Keys To Victory: Texas

Texas A&M has played well at Kyle Field all season, losing only to nationally-ranked Oklahoma State by five points. So even though Texas comes to College Station as a 21-point favorite with a national championship on the line, the 12th Man will give the Aggies a chance despite the odds. David Sandhop takes a look at the keys of the game for the Aggies if they hope to leave Kyle field victorious.

Texas A&M has played well at Kyle Field all season, losing only to nationally-ranked Oklahoma State by five points. So even though Texas comes to College Station as a 21-point favorite with a national championship on the line, the 12th Man will give the Aggies a chance despite the odds. In fact, with the Aggies finishing up a disappointing 2007 season and Dennis Franchione departing, a heavily favored Longhorn team went down at Kyle Field. Still, with the advantages of playing in front of a raucous Thanksgiving Night pro-A&M crowd, the Aggies will still need to be successful in several critical areas to come away with the upset win. David Sandhop takes a look at the keys of the game for the Aggies if they hope to leave the field victorious.


1) Must Have a Turnover Ratio of +2

This is a no-brainer for most games, but it's especially true when you go into a game as a 21 point underdog. The Aggies will need some help from the Longhorns in the form of turnovers and miscues. Hopefully, the defense or special teams can score a touchdown, but at the very least A&M needs a couple of turnovers that significantly shifts field position and gives the offense a short field to score.


2) Run for at Least 100 yards

Texas has the number one rush defense in the nation. The Longhorn defense held OU to negative yards on the ground and only one Big 12 team (OSU – 134 yds) has netted over 100 yards on the ground. The OU game result certainly is an eye opener, but no other Big 12 team can be considered an accomplished run team. A&M will have to try to establish a productive rushing attack. If you look at the 2009 season, in the games where A&M is successful running the ball, they are competitive. When the Aggies can't establish the run, they are not competitive. There's no way A&M will dominate to the tune of 375 yards like they did last week against Baylor, but realistically getting to 100 yards will be huge. That type of production won't exclusively move the chains, but the rushing game must be successful enough to give Jerrod Johnson reasonable down-and-distance scenarios on third down situations. The Aggies can be successful on third and four. They will struggle with third and 12.


3) Protect Johnson in the Pocket

This has been the storyline of the Aggie offense all season, and Thursday's game will be no different. Johnson does his best work in the pocket with time to find his target.


4) Get Positive Results on Run Blitzing

Texas only averages 130 yards rushing per game, but for the Aggies to be successful on defense they will need to generate big plays and get the Kyle Field crowd rocking. So while I think they could control the run with a base defense, I think they need to be aggressive and try to bring down Tre Newton and Cody Johnson in the backfield for some big losses. The Aggies will need to force Texas into third-and-long situations. Colt McCoy will pick A&M's linebackers apart on short down-and-distance scenarios. Coming with run blitzes up the middle can accomplish two results. First, it can shut down a running game between the tackles, and it can also bring pressure on the quarterback. Now, it comes with risks as well but A&M really doesn't have anything to lose being 21 point underdogs and already bowl eligible.


5) Don't Let Shipley Beat You

Jordan Shipley is easily Colt McCoy's favorite target. He's having a monster season with over 1200 yards receiving and he accounts for almost 40% of all passing yards. The Longhorns have other weapons that can catch passes, but you have to pick your poison and you might as well neutralize the most productive receiver on the roster. Kirkendoll, Williams, and Buckner are capable receivers, but none of these secondary targets average over 40 yard a game. A&M must force one of these players to step up and become McCoy's No. 1 target and see if they can handle it. They might. They might not.


6) Avoid Any Negative Plays on Special Teams

Normally, I'd say the special teams need to come up with a big play in the game, but given A&M's track record on special teams they just need to avoid negative plays on special teams and hope to win the game in other facets of the game. Frankly, I think the Aggies should go back to Ken Wood. He gets rid of the ball quicker and you don't lose anything in terms of distance or hangtime. Both A&M punters are below average in that area, so you should go with the one who can get the ball off quicker... and that's Wood.



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