Hop's Keys to Success - Baylor

For the first time in over 25 years, Texas A&M and Baylor face off in the Battle of the Brazos with both teams ranked. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the five keys to an Aggie victory in what will be the last game between both schools for the foreseeable future.

1) Hit Griffin and Rattle Him

If the A&M defense can't put pressure on Griffin and hit him in the pocket, the odds of winning this game go way down. If Aggie defenders can lay some big hits on Griffin, he's fragile and he can be rattled. That was evident in last year's game in Waco and in other games as well. A&M must keep Griffin dazed and confused and forcing him into quicker decisions which will result in interceptions and turnovers.

2) Cover the Middle of the Field

The defense improved against Texas Tech, but a handful of big plays nullified the accomplishments made in most areas. Most of the big gainers came over the middle with linebackers covering receivers. A portion of that is due to the blitzing and not getting to the quarterback in time, but the linebackers have to stay close and force Griffin to make a difficult and accurate throw to complete those passes. If the defense forced tougher throws and tougher decisions, Griffin will make mistakes. If receivers are running across the middle with no defender close, that becomes a simple play to make. A&M must make Griffin earn his yards.

3) Big Plays in the Passing Game

Whether it's a long pass over the top or an intermediate route in the middle of the field, the passing game must generate big plays. If Tannehill can connect with his receivers on at least two receptions for 35 yards or more, that will open up the running game and the underneath passing game. Jeff Fuller can't seem to get over the hump injury-wise which is causing limitations on the field. Either he or Uzoma Nwachukwu need to step-up and make the big plays.

4) Utilize the Tight End

More specifically, the offense needs to utilize the middle of the field and the best way to do that when the receivers are struggling with separation is to release the tight end over the middle against a linebacker. The Aggies employed that play early in the season, but have not worked the middle of the field much since the OSU game. While Michael Lamothe is a great blocker and is a nice pass receiver coming out of the backfield horizontally, it will be up to either Nehemiah Hicks or Hutson Prioleau to release and beat his cover man down the field.

5) Attitude and Killer Instinct

The team has to come out with some SEC swagger. The Aggies are a better team top-to-bottom and they need to show from the opening kickoff. The Aggies need to play physical and intimidate the Bears early. I thought the defensive secondary played physical in Lubbock, and the linebackers and defensive linemen need to get into the act as well. On the other side of the ball, the A&M offensive line is bigger and better. The unit must establish dominance early and control the line of scrimmage. Physical play leads to confidence, and confidence leads to swagger. A team with swagger almost always wins.

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