1) Don't Get Caught Up in the Moment
Coaches want their players to come out with plenty of emotion and intensity. That won't be a problem for the Aggies, but what could be a problem is the players getting too excited to start the game which leads to The Aggies must play within themselves and understand that emotion can be costly if it's not controlled. It's a big stage on Thursday, but it's still football and the task at hand is beating the Texas Longhorns. It's as simple as that. The Aggies have the veteran team and the Horns are forced to start true freshmen at several key positions on offense. Texas A&M should have the added poise and maturity to deal with the circus-like atmosphere that will play out on Kyle Field Thursday night.
2) Establish an Effective Running Game
From all indications, it appears that Cyrus Gray feels good enough to give it a go against the Longhorns. It's critical for the Aggies to have a dynamic running back to battle the top rush defense in the Big 12. With Texas also holding the league's best pass defense, it is important for Tannehill and company to get some success on the ground and set-up third down and short situations to extend drives. It will be tough to consistently convert on third and long against a stingy Texas secondary, and those situations are also susceptible to turnovers and mistakes. The battle to watch is Texas A&M's tackle duo of Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel going up against the fast-rising defensive end duo of Alexa Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat.
3) Explosive Plays in Passing Game
This has been a constant theme for the Aggie offense throughout the year, but it is especially important on Thursday against the Big 12's best defense. The one soft spot on that unit is at safety. In addition, the Longhorns are very talented by very young at cornerback. They have the speed and quickness to break in front of those out-routes and stop routes that Ryan Tannehill enjoys throwing. But, because they will be jumping some of these routes, they are susceptible to pump fakes and longer routes down the field. A&M has to make them pay when their young corners get too aggressive and start to jump the short routes.
4) Avoid Giving Up Explosive Pass Plays
The Longhorn passing game has struggled all season with both freshman QB's misfiring frequently. However, Texas does have dangerous receivers and OC Bryan Harsin will definitely take his shots downfield against a pass defense that has surrendered the big play all year. The best way for a struggling offense to score is to hit some early homeruns down the field and opening up the running game.
5) Pressure the Quarterback
When you have a wide-eyed struggling freshman QB thrown into what will be an insane game environment, the last thing a defense wants to do is allow the young signal caller to get comfortable in the pocket. Luckily, the Aggies lead the Big 12 in sacks per game (3.73) and the Longhorns are struggling with pass protection giving up 2.20 sacks per game good for eighth in the league. The Aggies will need that trend to continue on Thursday night. With pressure, the freshmen QB's will make mistakes.
Hop's Five Keys to Success - Texas
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