Five Keys to Success
1. Run the ball
The Jayhawks defense enters the game ranked No. 7 in the nation in rush defense, but they haven't played anyone with a backfield like the Aggies. A&M has shown over the past two years that they can run the ball on anyone, and they'll look to prove that again this week. On the other hand, Kansas is sick of hearing about their weak schedule and they'll look to silence their critics. It's a lot easier to talk about tackling Jorvorskie Lane than doing it though, especially since he's only one rushing touchdown from tying the school record.
Did the Aggies run the ball effectively? NO.
Kansas definitely won this battle and proved that they are indeed, one of the top rush defenses in the nation. They totally took A&M out of its gameplan and forced Stephen McGee to throw the ball, which he did late in the game. But it was too little, too late. The Aggies managed just 74 yards rushing, which isn't going to win many games in this offense.
2. Win the turnover battle--again
Yeah, yeah, I know. This is always a key, but in a game that may come down to a play or two here and there, a key turnover could swing the game one way or the other, and for the Aggies, that seems to be a trend. In fact, turnovers seem to be the biggest stat during the Franchione era at Texas A&M. The Aggies are 24-3 in games with a turnover margin, and 7-22 in games with an even or minus turnover margin. In 2007, the Aggies are 6-0 when they win the turnover battle, but 0-2 when even or minus.
Did the Aggies win the turnover battle? NO.
The Aggies had the lone turnover of the evening, dropping A&M's record to 0-3 this year when finishing with an even or minus turnover margin. The Aggies seem to rely on this statistic more than any other in Franchione's time at A&M. The Aggies are now 7-23 during that span when they do not have a positive turnover margin.
3. Engage the 12th Man
Kansas has struggled on the road and the largest crowd they have played in front of was 51,900 at Colorado. They've won both of their road games be less than one possession with the home team driving for a chance to win in the fourth quarter. There will be 82,000-plus in attendance on Saturday at Kyle Field, and the Aggies need to jump on the Jayhawks early, make big stops on defense and keep the 12th Man doing what it does best.
Did the Aggies engage the crowd? NO.
There were more than 85,000 in attendance on Saturday night but most of them sat on their hands for much of the night. The Aggies were unable to get anything going on offense and the crowd began getting restless. The stadium was down to about 60,000 with 12:00 left in the fourth quarter and was a non-factor late in the game.
4. Sound special teams
Kansas kick returner Marcus Herford has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and averages 31 yards per return. Jayhawk punt returner averages 12.1 yards per return and returned one punt 77 yards for a touchdown. A&M kickers need to play keepaway on kicks and Matt Szymanski needs to be solid on field goal attempts. Every point will be critical for the Aggies.
Did the Aggies take care of business on special teams? YES.
With the exception of Justin Brantly's shanked punt, the special teams unit played pretty well. Matt Szymanski was one-for-one on field goal attempts, Kerry Franks posted an average kick return of 26.4 yards on five returns and Brantly still averaged 37.6 yards per kick, pinning the Jayhawks inside the 20 twice. The Aggies also blocked the Jayhawks' first field goal attempt of the night.
5. Stay in front of the chains
The A&M offense is not designed to convert in long yardage situations--see Miami. They've got to get positive yardage early and not allow the KU defense to get too comfortable. Kansas is No. 7 in the nation in tackles for loss, averaging 8.71 per game (61 TFL on the season).
Did the Aggies stay in front of the chains? NO.
The Aggies were behind the chains on eight of their 12 possessions on Saturday night, making it much more difficult to run their base offense on the ground. instead, McGee attempted 44 passes--most of which came late in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies only marked off one of this week's keys to success, and that key was arguably the least important of the five. They'll have to do better than that this week against Oklahoma.
Keys to Success Review
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