After a few days of fortune telling and playing armchair coach, it's time to get back onto Kyle Field and play another game. A&M had this week to get ready for a Mountain West showdown with the Utah Utes. For those of you wondering what to expect, since A&M has only played Utah once in the school's history (a 1936, 20-7 victory), this will actually be a tough game for the Aggies for a few reasons. First, this is the next baby step for the program as it adjusts to an unusually high number of first time starters (8 redshirt freshmen). Second, they are still adjusting to the new offensive and defensive systems under the Franchione regime. Third, this is not Arkansas State. Utah comes in with a monster running back, Brandon Warfield, who ran for 173 yards last week against Utah State. This was his third consecutive 100-yard game going back to last season. Utah also boasts large offensive linemen (295, 300, 319, 305, 287 lbs). This will be a good test for the Aggies to gauge the team's progress.
Look for the offense to rebound. Too many young, dumb mistakes by many first-timers, along with some veteran mistakes, made last week's game too close for comfort. However, look for the coaching staff to rebound this week with tough, disciplined practices. Look for the blocks to be there, for the quarterback, wheter it be Dustin Long or Reggie McNeal, to have more time in the pocket, and for holes to open up a little more for the running game. The passing game should begin to take shape as the running game starts to settle in. Look for a 60/40 passing to running ratio. However, if Reggie McNeal is in the game, anticipate a flip of 40/60 passing to running, as he often opts to take off down field versus throwing the ball away.
Look for Dustin Long to start this week, only because Reggie started last week. This will give Franchione an equal comparison for both quarterbacks as starters. Expect both running backs to get equal play, with Franchione going with his gut again on who will get more carries. Look for A&M to score about 30 points this week. I like their odds a little better this time. A big goal for the team should be NO TURNOVERS.
This will be a great test for the secondary as Utah comes in with a wide-open offense. Not to say that this is a weakness, but rather it's a chance for the Aggies to show who they really are. The secondary is starting to make a name for themselves again, as Byron Jones and Sean Weston are playing well. Jonte Buhl is looking healthier, giving the team depth at the position. Jaxson Appel will likely lay some tough hits and could likely gain a pick or two against the Utes.
The linebacker corps is starting to take shape, as Justin Warren is getting comfortable in the starting position. Jarred Morris and Archie McDaniel are becoming comfortable with the opposing team's backfield and are beginning to make it a home. The defensive line will have a great test coming into the bye week--the attitude should be to go all out for the Utes and rest the next week. The Ags should also look to keep the Utah offense under 200 yards. Finally, I think these guys need to play hungry, and produce some points on their own.
It should be fun to watch kick and punt returns. Terrence Murphy and Jason Carter can be explosive. Specifically, watch for the play of the kick coverage. Too many missed tackles and slow gunners allowed Arkansas State to gain great field position when the Aggies should have had them backed up on their own side of the field. Improved speed and tackling will be needed to keep Utah from starting past the 20. Barring any kicks from the endzone, a goal for A&M should A&M should not start beyond their own 20 yard line after a kick. This time, the special teams will run one back for a touchdown. I wouldn't be surprised to see all three aspects of the team should put points on the board.
Power Rankings after Week 2
Still protesting the AP and coaches' polls, I thought I would whet your appetite on what the Big 12 looks like so far:
Yeah, Baylor doesn't even deserve to get listed after last week's debacle. I could have done better against UAB, and thus I am now #6 in the south.
Hope y'all have your parties ready and game tickets in hand, see you at Northgate, a tailgate party, or anywhere the beer is flowing.
The Macho Man
The Macho Man Report
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