Texas A&M Rushing Offense vs. Texas Run Defense
It will be a tough day for the Aggies to find anything on the ground this Thanksgiving, as A&M enters the game ranked dead last in the Big 12 with under 100 rushing yards per game, and Texas represents the stingiest run defense in the Big 12. Michael Goodson has yet to show his NFL caliber skills since his return from injury, and will again be working behind the young and outmatched Aggie line. Instead, Cyrus Gray has been the most productive back this season.
Along with yardage, the Texas front seven tightens even more in the red zone, allowing only 7 rushing touchdowns all year, by far a Big 12 low. Jorvorskie Lane has been for the most part ineffective against the Longhorns in his career, but could be called upon to deliver in short yardage situations. Even with the tools at running back, the Aggies may be best served by nearly forgetting about the running game this year, as it does not seem to lead to much success.
Texas A&M Passing Offense vs. Texas Pass Defense
Considered a strength at midseason, the Aggie passing attack has taken a turn for the worse, as the Aggies have turned over the ball through the air six times in their last two games. While quarterback Jerrod Johnson has now set the Aggie season mark for touchdowns thrown in a season, his decision making has been very questionable as of late.
Additionally, Johnson's slow release lengthens the time he is in the pocket, and time will be a premium this week as the Longhorns are number 1 in the nation in sacks per game. A&M allows their quarterback to go down 3 times per game, and Longhorn defensive leader Brian Orakpo should finally be 100%. He is a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy and the Lombardi Award, and has 9 sacks on the year.
Texas Rushing Offense vs. Texas A&M Run Defense
Not normally the case at a feature school like Texas, they find themselves this year without a true feature back in their system, and as a result have struggled to run the ball by their standards over the past four games, failing to rush for over 200 yards any game during that span. Colt McCoy is the leading rusher from the quarterback position, and is underrated as a runner out of the pocket. The Longhorns also make the most of their runs in the red zone, with 27 touchdowns on the ground.
Defensively, the Aggies have been nothing short of abysmal against the run as of late. In the past two games, the Aggies have given up 597 yards on the ground and 7 touchdowns. Fortunately, they will have Freshman Trent Hunter back, who has practiced this week after missing the Baylor game with an ankle injury. Still, A&M will struggle to contain the Longhorn running game unless other players, such as middle linebacker Matt Featherston, play fast, error-free football.
Texas Passing Offense vs. Texas A&M Pass Defense
While Colt McCoy's Heisman hope may have been dashed for this year after his loss to Texas Tech, the Longhorns still have a very formidable attack through the air. McCoy heavily favors his two elite receivers, Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby, who each have over 70 receptions on the year, a first for the university. McCoy is hitting on 77.4 percent of his passes on the year, and has 32 touchdowns to go with it.
The secondary for the Aggies remains a decent bright spot for A&M, especially with the return of Trent Hunter, although they have been unable to make the big plays needed in recent weeks. While only allowing 235 yards per game on the season, they have dropped many interceptions over the past two weeks, and have been outfought for the ball as well. For A&M to stand a chance in this game, they must capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself to get a turnover, although with McCoy at the helm for Texas, those chances could be very limited.
Texas' recruiting philosophy of offering sheer athletes has paid dividends in special teams, as UT is among the top 4 in the conference in every major statistical special teams category. They have two very dangerous return men in Shipley and Cosby, and their kicker Hunter Lawrence leads the conference in field goals and field goal accuracy. Additionally, while their punter is outkicked by Justin Brantley, they have only allowed 58 total yards in punt returns all year.
Texas A&M continues to struggle in special teams, but things look positive for the future of this crew. Cyrus Gray has finally shown he can be a consistent threat to return kicks, and A&M is also second in the conference with 22 touchbacks in the kickoff game. Brantley continues to show why he is a future NFL prospect, although coverage must improve during punts if A&M is going to hold Shipley back from breaking loose for another big gain.
Texas A&M vs. Texas: Matchups
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