The signs look eerily familiar. On one hand, you have a struggling Texas A&M team, probably better than their record shows, yet unable to put together a solid four quarters of football. Led by a young dynamic quarterback taking the reigns over an older veteran, they gear up for an Oklahoma team that is rolling into College Station with national titles hopes square in their mind. The Aggies were not supposed to have a chance, but those who had followed the team closely knew that it was only a matter of time before they broke out and showed what they could do. The first time, the year was 2002, and Texas A&M shocked the #1 Sooners with the biggest upset in A&M history. This week, the Aggies will look to do the same with similar circumstances as the #4 Sooners enter Kyle rolling over their competition. Let's take a look at the matchups for this game.
Texas A&M Passing Offense vs. Oklahoma Pass Defense
The biggest bright spot in the Aggie arsenal this year has been the passing game, as quarterback Jerrod Johnson and wide receivers Jeffery Fuller and Ryan Tannehill have or are on pace to have every Aggie passing and receiving record. Texas A&M brings additional threats down field with the progression of tight end Jamie McCoy, and as a result this squad has yet to throw for less than 200 yards during Big 12 play.
On the flip side, the Oklahoma Sooners will present the biggest challenge the Aggies have faced this year. They are led by strong, physical defensive backs Lendy Holmes, and Dominique Franks and coverage linebacker Travis Lewis, who each have 3 or more interceptions on the year. The Sooners come in allowing only 10 passing touchdowns on the year, so for the Aggies to be successful they will need their big, physical playmaker Fuller to make the Sooners fully realized what a star they missed this Saturday.
Texas A&M Rushing Offense vs. Oklahoma Rush Defense
The big unknown for Texas A&M is still the availability of running back Mike Goodson. He was unable to go last week, but gives the Aggie rushing attack a much needed extra dimension with his speed and elusiveness. The Aggie rushing attack comes in at dead last in the Big 12, and has scored only 10 touchdowns on the year on the ground. Texas A&M has also heavily utilized the often ineffective Keondra Smith much this year, which in part leads to A&M's disappointing 3.4 yard average on the ground.
The Sooners, as usual, have done well against the run, but unlike most years they lack a true star on the defensive line. Linebacker Travis Lewis is in on over 10 tackles per game, but there is no one man to really fear, which is a good sign for the inexperienced Aggie line. The Sooners also have a reputation for lack of stunting, so if the offensive line can hang with the defensive front talent wise, it is possible for the Aggies to find running success.
Oklahoma Passing Offense vs. Texas A&M Pass Defense
With all the talk of Texas' Colt McCoy and Tech's Graham Harrell, sophomore Sam Bradford may actually be having the best season of any Big 12 quarterback. Through 9 games Bradford has thrown for a ridiculous 34 touchdowns, and has already hit the 3000 yard mark for this season. Led by senior receiver Juaquin Iglesias, the Sooners have yet to find their go-to guy after the loss of Malcolm Kelly, but every receiver they field is a constant threat to score.
For Texas A&M, this unit is coming off arguably their best game of the season, forcing three interceptions in the win against Colorado. The Aggies have allowed a Big 12 low 10 touchdowns through the air this year, although this mark has been skewed somewhat by the lack of overall passing done against the team. The Aggies rank 10th in the Big 12 in yards per attempt, and will have a hard time slowing down Bradford and the Sooner's commitment to throw the football.
Oklahoma Rushing Offense vs. Texas A&M Rush Defense
Those familiar with recruiting remember DeMarco Murray from his incredible high school highlight reels, and he has sharpened those skills during his tenure with the Sooners. He is one of five Big 12 rushers to have scored 10 touchdowns on the year, although he has not shown his big play ability yet this year, with no rush going for more than 50 yards. With the success throwing the ball, they have yet to find a compliment to Murray, so a healthy DeMarco is needed for this unit to be successful.
On the flip side, Texas A&M has had all sorts of problems containing the running game so far this year. They have allowed a Big 12 high of 22 touchdowns on the ground, and are giving up 4.9 yards per rush and over 200 yards per game. Aggie defensive coordinator Joe Kines has shuffled the linebacking corps significantly in order to get playmakers on the field, choosing to go with a smaller, faster group against these spread defenses, but as a result A&M could again find it hard to fight off blocks well enough to slow down the run.
Texas A&M Special Teams vs. Oklahoma Special Teams
Oklahoma uncharacteristically has struggled this year with their special teams play. They have yet to find a championship quality kicker or punter, as they are 3 for 5 on field goals on the year and have missed 4 extra points. Additionally, the Sooner's punter is averaging only 35 yards per punt, 10 yards shorter than Aggie kicker Justin Brantley. The one thing the Sooners do well is kickoff returns, as they lead the conference with over 26 yards per return.
Texas A&M has seen a marked improvement in their special teams after starting out horrendously. New kicker Randy Bullock provides consistency on field goals and extra points, but needs improvement on his kickoffs as many are taken around the 10 yard line. Additionally, many of Brantley's punts are wasted by the Aggies' punt coverage unit, as they are allowing by far a conference high 9.4 yards per punt return.
A&M vs. Oklahoma: Matchups
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