Texas A&M vs. Kansas State: Matchup

The Aggies return to Kyle for their Big 12 home opener against the North's Kansas State, in what could be the most important game of the year for both teams. How do they match up against Ron Prince's Wildcats? Aggie Websider's Taylor Freeman takes a look.

For Texas A&M, this may be the most important game of the year. They showed signs of life against Oklahoma State, but turnovers and missed assignments had them blown out of Stillwater. A win in Kyle against Kansas State would build on the things they did right, and could set the tone for a comeback second half of the season. A loss, however, would send the Aggies to 2-4 with Texas Tech next Saturday, and could rob the team of any momentum they had building.

On the other hand, this could be the most important game of Ron Prince's season too. On the hot seat before the season, Prince needs every win he can get to secure his job, and after getting blown out by Tech last week he will have the Wildcats playing their best ball, as a loss could end up sending him packing at the end of the year. Here is how the Aggies and Wildcats match up.

Texas A&M Run Offense vs. Kansas St. Run Defense

The A&M rushing attack has been frustrating to watch this year. They have lived off of the big play, coming from both Cyrus Gray and Michael Goodson, and in doing so showcased the talent present if they can be given a hole to run through. However, this team has been unable to show that it can consistently put together a rushing drive and get four to five yards at will. With the return of Jorvorskie Lane at tailback, the Aggies get a new dimension for short yardage situations, but the line must get better for this attack to be what it should.

This week the line will have to deal with standout freshman Brandon Herald, a defensive end who is leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss, and is effective both against the run and the pass. A healthy Schneider will go a long way to containing him, and if that can be done Texas A&M should have a good day on the ground against a defense ranked 11th in the Big 12 against the run and giving up almost 200 yards a game.

Advantage: Texas A&M

Texas A&M Pass Offense vs. Kansas St. Pass Defense

It is unclear, even among Aggie fans, how good or bad this Aggie passing attack is. Through 5 games, the Aggies have had at least 3 interceptions come from tipped balls by the receivers, and many times have been forced to scramble out of the pocket to try and complete the pass. As a result, the stats for the Aggies may not look impressive, but they have showed flashes of brilliance when given the time to throw.

Texas A&M matches up with a K-State defense that has allowed a Big 12 high 11 touchdowns through the air, compared to only 3 interceptions. That bodes well for Texas A&M, although the line must protect Johnson better than it has, and the receivers must limit drops and tipped balls. Freshman Jeffery Fuller continues to look more confident each game and should continue to be effective against the smaller Wildcat cornerbacks.

Advantage: Push

Kansas State Run Offense vs. Texas A&M Run Defense

For the Texas A&M front seven, the matchup could not get any worse than last week against Kendall Hunter and the #1 rushing attack of Oklahoma State. When it was over, the Aggies had held the Cowboys to without a 100-yard rusher for the first time in 15 games. This week, the Aggie line gets a softer matchup, which they can hopefully use to bring up their abysmal stat of allowing 225 yards rushing per game.

A&M will go up against Lamark Brown, a tall, 6'3" sophomore who surprisingly has had limited success around the goal line. So far this year Brown has averaged a pedestrian 38 yards per game, and has only 1 rushing touchdown. In fact, 8 of the 12 rushing touchdowns for the Wildcats have come from scrambles and sneaks by the quarterback Josh Freeman. If the Aggies use a linebacker to spy Freeman, they can limit yardage gained on the ground, but it's hard to pick the A&M squad in this match up unless they can consistently prove to be capable at stopping the run.

Advantage: Push

Kansas State Pass Offense vs. Texas A&M Pass Defense

After facing Dez Bryant last week, the Aggie secondary might sigh in relief at looking at the match-up sheet for the Wildcats. The headliner is first year Junior College transfer Brandon Banks, a miniature 5'7" and weighing only 142 pounds. However, it would be a mistake to take Banks lightly. He currently leads the team with over 100 yards a game and 6 touchdowns on the year.

For the Aggie D to be successful, they must contain speed where they failed at containing size last week. Josh Freeman is on the cusp of being labeled one of the Big 12's elite quarterbacks, and can beat you will strength, accuracy, and ability to run the football. Texas A&M's current status atop the Big 12 in pass defense will be heavily tested this week, and Kansas St. should find success in the air.

Advantage: Kansas State

Special Teams

Special Teams are a disaster right now for Texas A&M. Punter Justin Brantley, the only lone bright spot, is still kicking low punts that outkick the coverage, and the result is a punt return average of 25 yards for opponents. The kickoff team is allowing 24 yards per return, and the field goal unit is still at 1-4, having not attempted a field goal last week.

On the other hand, Ron Prince has got the Wildcats' special teams firing on all cylinders this year. They are allowing 15 yard returns on kicks and 4 yard returns on punts, and their field goal percentage is perfect on the year at 4-4. It speaks volumes that A&M is punting the ball on average nine yards further than Kansas State, but the net punt average is two yards less for the Aggies. Additionally, Kansas State blocked a Big 12 high two kicks against Texas Tech, so Bean must make sure to get height on his tries, as extra points are not even sure things against the Cats.

Advantage: Kansas State

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