A&M - Miami: Position Breakdown

One year ago, the Aggies and the Canes met in what was to be an epic battle of size versus speed. On that day the quick had its way with the thick, as Miami rolled over A&M 34-17. Since that time Texas A&M has got a new coach, new scheme, and a new emphasis on matching that speed on the field shown in last year's game. With all the new personnel, here is how the Aggie units match up with Miami.


For Texas A&M sophomore Jerrod Johnson will likely get the start due to an injury to incumbent senior Stephen McGee. Last year against Miami Jerrod threw the lone touchdown of the game, a 33 yard strike to Martellus Bennett in the back of the end zone with 5 seconds left.

This year, however, he will have to throw a lot more than 1 pass to give the Aggies a chance to keep the speedy Miami defense honest in the box. A&M was picked off twice against the Canes last year, and Jerrod needs to show that he can decrease those numbers on Saturday.

If A&M can empathize with Miami in any one area, it's for having fans call for the backup QB. Freshmen Jacory Harris, starting game one due to a suspension on starter and fellow freshmen Robert Marve, was 16 for 26 in a 52-7 beatdown of Charleston Southern, while Marve's first game back against Florida went for only 69 yards through the air.

With either under center, the Canes have averaged only 135.5 passing yards in their first two games, and while last year's Aggie D made Kyle Wright look like an All-American, this year's D may be less forgiving.

Advantage: A&M

Running Back

Texas A&M has one of the most electric and versatile stable of backs in the country, the problem is, they did last year as well. In 2007 the Aggies rushed for just 98 yards on 33 carries, and they will look to improve on that 3.0 ypc average on Saturday. They do add two new weapons however, in freshmen Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens, and should help A&M to eclipse last year's numbers.

Miami is dealing with injuries as RB Javarris James has a high ankle sprain that could keep him out of the game with A&M. The Canes still have a very capable back in sophomore Graig Cooper, and Derron Thomas and former A&M commit Shawnbrey McNeal could also see significant reps. With James going down in the game against Florida they were only able to muster 57 rushing yards in his absence, so this could be a tough draw if James can't go.

Advantage: A&M


No receiver on the Aggie roster remembers catching a pass against the Canes last year, because not a single one did. Backup quarterback-turner-slot-receiver Ryan Tannehill will be battling an injury, and on the outside only Jeff Fuller has shown glimpses of anything more than a role player for the offense. At tight end, Jamie McCoy needs to become more involved in the passing game as Miami is expected to blitz early and often.

Similarly, the Canes are also banking on unproven freshmen for a majority of their yards through the air. Three freshmen fill the two deep at WR, and the lone returning starter is junior Sam Shields, who caught 6 balls for 117 yards in last year's game against A&M. Miami looks to spread the ball around rather than focus on 1 receiver, as they have only 1 man with more than three receptions this year.

Advantage: Push

Offensive Line

Texas A&M's inexperience on the offensive line has shown in the first two games, as the Aggies allowed seven sacks against relatively weak opponents. Additionally, the line will have to find ways to get a better push on the line of scrimmage, as the 112 rushing yards gained through the first two games is well below what the stars in the backfield are capable of.

For Miami, they have a relatively experienced line headlined by blue-chip senior Reggie Youngblood and anchored by senior Xavier Shannon, Randy's son. While the line was not able to do much against the defense of Florida, they have been able to do so before, and with an average weight of 320 pounds, they will be a big force in the middle.

Advantage: Miami

Defensive Line

With so much size on Miami's offensive line, the success of this unit will come down to how effectively Michael Bennett can give them a taste of their own medicine. Bennett has been abusing slower tackles in his first two games, and could do the same on Saturday. However, this unit has helped surrender 235 rush yards per game, and it could be a long day if inside man Kellen Heard does not play to his ability.

Luckily for Aggie fans, it seems defensive end Eric Moncur will be held out with an ankle injury, but this unit has been great at stopping the run if not at getting to the quarterback. While only sacking Florida QB Tim Tebow once, they held the Florida running game to 89 yards on 27 carries, and will be a tall order for the inexperience of the Aggie offensive line.

Advantage: Miami


The traditional heart of the Aggie defense for decades, this year's corps has looked anything but, as their youth and inexperience has shown through the first two games. Sherman has moved more speed into this position, so if the front four can bounce running plays outside this unit will be solid, but no one outside of middle linebacker Matt Featherston has shown a nose for the ball between the tackles thus far.

The Canes bring a lot of experience to this position, with two seniors on the outside and junior Colin McCarthy in the middle. McCarthy showed signs last year of being a star, and is looking to improve on his sophomore campaign. This unit has played well through two games, and will be looking to match their impressive numbers again on Saturday.

Advantage: Miami


Last week Jordan Peterson returned an interception for a touchdown in what was the first defensive touchdown for the Aggies in 48 games. With the starters on the field, the Aggies definitely have the talent to make it two in a row, but this secondary has been beaten when the starters are on the sidelines. This paper thin unit will need to stay healthy to stop Miami.

For the Canes, cornerback Bruce Johnson headlines this group, a speedy 5'11" senior who is a top 100 prospect for next year's draft. At safety, however, they do not have clear starters and have freshmen Joseph Nicolas atop the depth chart. On Saturday Miami will have to hope the tall Aggie receiver Jeff Fuller does not make it to the safety level to be as effective at stopping the pass as they have been so far.

Advantage: Push

Special Teams

Justin Brantley is yet again a Ray Guy candidate and has a great leg. Cyrus Gray is electric returning kicks, as is Jordan Pugh on punts. The only problem lies in field goal kicker Richie Bean. Missing two field goals badly in game 1 against Arkansas St., Bean will need to produce when called upon for the Aggies to be successful on Saturday.

Miami's kicker/punter Matt Bosher has already had his ups and downs, having a punt blocked against Florida but also nailing a 50 yard field goal in the same game. His average punt is well below Brantley's, but he hasn't missed a field goal yet. On the return side, Graig Cooper took a punt back 66 yards for a touchdown in game one.

Advantage: Push

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