Wrecking Crew, Wrecking Crew!!!

The Texas Aggie football team took the lead on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back in beating No. 8 Oklahoma 33-19. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look back at the big win and reviews the performance of the offensive and defensive units.

"Wrecking Crew, Wrecking Crew, Wrecking Crew"… near the end of Saturday night's 33-19 win over No. 8 Oklahoma, chants of "Wrecking Crew" could be heard coming from the stands of Kyle Field. It's been over a decade since that term was affectionately attached to one of the most aggressive, dominating defenses in college football from 1985-2000. The Aggie defenses of that era not only kept opponents out of the end zone, they intimidated opposing offenses and energized the Texas A&M crowd. In fact, Aggie fans savored each dominating performance of their defense. The unit became so popular it received the ultimate in appreciation…a name of its own. Thus, the Texas A&M "Wrecking Crew" defense was born during Jackie Sherrill's tenure in the 1980's.

However, by the end of the millennium during the R.C. Slocum era and throughout Dennis Franchione's tenure, the Texas A&M defense not only lost its mojo, it sunk to depths no Aggie fan could imagine at the bottom of the NCAA statistical rankings. Most embarrassing were thrashings by Big 12 South opponents Texas Tech and Oklahoma giving up point totals (56, 59, 65, 66, 77) that are closer to basketball scores than football. The Wrecking Crew moniker was gone and only fondly remembered from time-to-time when Aggie fans were licking their wounds and wishing for better days. Well, after a decade of missed tackles, blown coverages, and few big plays on defense, the long wait may be over for the Aggies. After holding an explosive Sooner offense to 19 points and stopping OU on three goal line stands, defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is close to ushering in the return of the Wrecking Crew, the most endearing aspect of Texas A&M football. Inside linebacker Michael Hodges, who had a monster game with 19 tackles, heard the chants and was honored by the appreciative fans.

"It gave me chills. It's an indescribable feeling to hear the fans screaming that for us," Hodges said. "That's a goal of ours (regaining the Wrecking Crew) and we took a big step towards that today."

Head coach Mike Sherman was asked about his defense and if his team deserved the moniker after their winning performance against the nationally-ranked Sooners.

"You can't anoint yourself the Wrecking Crew. When people recognize it and they say it, and if we play hard the rest of the way maybe we'll hear that again," Sherman said. "When the guys who built that Wrecking Crew and maintained that say that our guys are in the club, then they're in the club."

The debate may continue on the name, but there is no debating that Texas A&M is on a roll and has been energized with the quarterback play of Ryan Tannehill. Since he entered the game against Kansas three weeks ago, the Aggies broke a three-game slide and have now started a three-game win streak. They were in dead last in the Big 12 South, and now three weeks later they are in a virtual tie for second place and looking down in the standings at in-state rivals Texas Tech and Texas. More importantly, the Aggies are still in the Big 12 title hunt at 3-2 and surging upward in the standings.


News and Notes

• With the win over No. 8 Oklahoma, the Aggies are now ranked nationally (A.P. No. 23, Coaches Poll No. 25) for the first time in Sherman's three seasons in College Station. Texas A&M hasn't been in the Top 25 since September 20, 2007 after a 34-17 loss to unranked Miami.

• Saturday's win over Oklahoma was the second for head coach Mike Sherman over a Top 25 opponent. His other victory came last season in a 52-30 defeat of No. 21 Texas Tech in Lubbock. The last time an Aggie team beat a ranked opponent at Kyle Field was in the regular-season finale in 2007, when A&M beat No. 12 Texas 38-30…ironically, Dennis Franchione's last game as Texas A&M's head coach.

• The Texas A&M rush defense continues to be stingy this season. Going into Saturday night's game against the Sooners, the Aggies were ranked No. 8 nationally giving up 95 yards a game. Despite preseason all-American Demarco Murray carrying the ball for Oklahoma, the Texas A&M run defense again held its ground allowing just 72 yards on 44 carries.

• For a few tense moments on the turf of Kyle Field, wide receiver Jeff Fuller laid motionless while the crowd grew silent hoping for the best but fearing the worst as the trainers were looking at his knee. After several minutes, Fuller left the field under his own power but limping noticeably. After leaving for treatment, Fuller returned and entered the game. His status for next week's game against Baylor is unknown.


Game Balls

LB Michael Hodges-- The senior linebacker had a career night for the Aggies in Saturday's win over OU, recording a career-high 19 tackles and two sacks. That's the most tackles by an A&M defender since All-American and current linebacker coach Dat Nguyen notched 20 in the 1998 Cotton Bowl against UCLA.

LB Sean Porter -- The starting sophomore linebacker has had a solid yet quiet 2010 season until Saturday when he had a breakout performance on national television. Porter registered seven tackles with two stops for loss, three pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry.

RB Cyrus Gray -- Taking over the bulk of the load with Christine Michael out for the season, Gray had his best game as an Aggie with 122 yards on 21 carries. Gray ran with more energy and passion on Saturday. His 23-yard twisting and winding touchdown run through several Sooner defenders in the fourth quarter was the game winner.

Joker Von Miller – Miller came into the 210 season with a lot of preseason accolades. However, a nagging ankle injury in the first half of the season minimized his big play ability. But with the nation watching and a Top 10 team in town, Miller turned it on and wreaked havoc on the Sooner backfield. He racked up 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, a pass break-up, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble, and a tackle to stop Demarco Murray on a critical fourth-and-goal situation.


What the Opponent Had To Say

"A&M played a great game, they outplayed us tonight. They just stopped us on the goal line. Once you get down there and they stuff you there's not much you can do about it. They played a lot more physical and had lower pads." – Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones on the successful goal line stands by the Texas A&M defense.


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