Hop's Five Keys To Victory

The 2009 season rehearsal is over. The cupcakes on the 2009 are in the rear view mirror and the meat of a challenging schedule begins in Arlington against former SWC foe, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the five keys to victory in the inaugural Southwest Classic and what it will take for the Aggies to leave JerryWorld with an important win.

The 2009 season rehearsal is over. The cupcakes on the 2009 are in the rear view mirror and the meat of a challenging schedule begins in Arlington against former SWC foe, the Arkansas Razorbacks. A win on Saturday will springboard this program ahead of schedule and into contention for a quality bowl game as the team enters Big 12 Conference play. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the five keys to victory in the inaugural Southwest Classic and what it will take for the Aggies to leave JerryWorld with an important win.


1) Pressure on Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett

It's no secret that Mallett is a pocket passer and not the most agile quarterback. Given time, he has the arm to beat you. As much as the A&M secondary has improved, they will get beaten badly by a good Razorback receiving corps if Mallett has time to find his targets. To date, the Arkansas' OL has given up five sacks on the season. The A&M defense has recorded 14 sacks, so something has to give on Saturday. If the Aggies can pressure Mallet and register three or more sacks, I think that bodes well for the maroon and white. If Mallett has time to plant and shift his weight on his throws, it could be a long day for the secondary.


2) Protect A&M QB Jerrod Johnson

See No. 1 and reverse the roles. Jerrod Johnson has had time to throw this season, being sacked only four times so far. Johnson struggled in his first season when the pressure got to him and he made poor decisions outside the pocket. So far this season, he has more time, and when he has time he'll throw a deadly long ball. Stephen Barrera had an impressive first start at left tackle last week, and Lee Grimes is expected to return at right tackle. If they can hold up to a more talented Arkansas defensive line, then the sky is the limit for this No. 1 ranked A&M offense.


3) Limit Arkansas Tight End D.J. Williams

Tight end D.J. Williams has had a solid season so far, catching eight passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. However, in his weekly press conferences, head coach Bobby Petrino has stressed the need for the Arkansas offense to better utilize the middle of the field and more specifically find Williams down the middle of the field. A&M linebackers must account for him at all times because he has the athleticism to do damage on the Aggie defense.


4) A&M Success Establishing A Running Game

Even an accomplished passing game needs an effective running game to keep opposing defenses honest. In 2008, A&M had troubles running the ball and that forced the offense into poor down and distance situations, which put even more pressure on a suspect pass protection. An effective rushing attack extends drives and time of possession, and it will allow A&M'shurry-up offense to wear down the Razorback defense in the second half.


5) Fewer Mistakes Than Arkansas

You can add this bullet point to every game, but it's especially true this Saturday with two evenly matched teams playing at a neutral site. The result will come down to penalties and turnovers. Both teams are very similar in regard to mistakes. Both the Aggies (No. 118) and Razorbacks (No. 117) have had a hard time with penalties and both are rated at the very bottom of the NCAA. If last week is any indication, A&M has started to correct those problems (3-25 yds) while Arkansas continued to have several costly penalties at Alabama (11-98 yds). Both teams have done a good job of protecting the ball. The Aggies turned the ball over once in the first three games of the season while the Razorbacks lost one fumble and threw two interceptions. Bottom line, if the Aggies can play a clean game and win the turnover ratio, they will win. If they don't, they will lose.


Aggie Digest Top Stories