Kansas Game Preview

After three straight losses against ranked teams, the Aggies will play a struggling Kansas Jayhawk squad trying to turn its season around under first year coach Turner Gill. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a closer look at the match-up and discusses five keys to success for the Aggies.

After facing three straight ranked teams and losing all three, the Aggies are in desperate need of a victory, and on paper it looks like they've found the perfect remedy – the Kansas Jayhawks. The season statistics are not kind to Turner Gill's bunch as his team ranks near the bottom of every major NCAA category. On offense, Kansas ranks No. 88 in total offense and they only score 17 points a game, good for No. 112 nationally and dead last in the Big 12. It gets worse. The Jayhawks score just 65% of time in the red zone, good for No. 116 in the country out of 120 D-1 programs.

The numbers don't look much better on the defensive side of the ball under defensive coordinator Carl Torbush who was Texas A&M's coordinator under Dennis Franchione. The Jayhawks rank No. 85 in total defense and No. 99 in scoring allowed with 32 points a contest. The defense has had an especially hard time creating turnovers, ranking dead last at No. 120 with only four takeaways. The Texas A&M offensive line has struggled protecting quarterback Jerrod Johnson, but Kansas ranks No. 117 in sacks with a season total of four.

The statistics have been reflected in the results on the scoreboard as well. In the past two games against Baylor and Kansas State, the Jayhawks were outscored by a combined 114-14. So it appears that the Aggies may have a rare Big 12 freebie on their hands, right? Well, Aggie fans have learned that nothing is a freebie in this era of Texas A&M football. Despite much better statistical numbers, the Aggies are in the exact same spot as Kansas in the Big 12 won-loss record at 0-2. Also, Kansas has shown life at home. Coming off a 6-3 disastrous loss to North Dakota State in the season opener, the Jayhawks regrouped to knock off No. 15 Georgia Tech 28-25 in Lawrence a week later. So Kansas is dangerous, and the Aggies proved that they can turn the ball over at an alarming rate especially when Johnson is struggling and off-target.

Yes, Texas A&M should win the game on Saturday. However, the Aggies have not put everything together for a game yet this season and if the turnover bug returns, anything is possible including a fourth straight loss. But, if the Aggies can secure the ball and the offense takes advantage of defensive weaknesses in the Kansas defense, it could be a very good day for the maroon team. Here are the five keys to success for the Aggies in Saturday's contest:

1) Take Advantage of Porous KU Rush Defense

Texas A&M has tried unsuccessfully to establish the run during this three game losing streak. But they may have success against a KU run defense giving up 204 yards a game. Christine Michael has been close to breaking loose for a big game, and this could finally be the one.

2) Utilize the Middle of the Field

Arkansas and Missouri were successful taking away the middle of the field and forcing Johnson to make longer, tougher throws down the sideline. That's when the unit struggled. The Texas A&M offense flourished last year and in the beginning of this season by attacking the slot with Ryan Swope and freshman tight end Nehemiah Hicks. Success in the middle opens up more opportunities with Jeff Fuller, Terrence McCoy, and Uzoma Nwachukwu on the outside.

3) Minimize Turnovers

It's no secret that the Aggies have been plagued this season by turnovers, especially in the OSU and Arkansas games. It's particularly important to play a clean game against Kansas given the advantages that Texas A&M holds on both sides of the ball. A clean game should result in an Aggie victory.

4) Flex Muscle on the Defensive Line

The Texas A&M rush defense has been outstanding all season. The front seven has allowed just 77 yards per contest which ranks No. 2 in the nation. If the Aggies can stop the Kansas ground game, it will force freshman QB Jordan Webb to beat Tim DeRuyter's through the air and he's currently ranked last in pass efficiency at 117.9.

5) Pressure KU's Freshman Quarterback

Nothing rattles a young freshman QB than a good pass rush. The Aggies can create some turnover opportunities by forcing quick decisions on passes downfield. Kansas ranks No. 11 in sacks allowed with 18. Ironically, the team that ranks No. 12 – Texas A&M.

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