Taking Aim at Texas

SAN ANTONIO -- The Longhorns always have a target on their backs, especially when it comes to Texas A&M, and the Aggies are looking to last year's 12-7 upset victory in Austin for inspiration in 2007.

After six years worth of losses to the Horns, Texas A&M is riding a little bit higher after knocking off Texas in Austin.

"I think it's a confidence builder," Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione told Inside Texas. "Hopefully a little bit of momentum. Our guys didn't lack confidence going to play them any of the years. They believed they could play with them and beat them, butt we got it done last year. I'm not sure our guys ever lacked confidence, but when you actually do it I think it's a real boost to them."

All of the key pieces of last year's offense, eight starters to be exact, are back to benefit from that boost, but the centerpiece is Stephen McGee. The junior quarterback is known for his toughness, diving head first into the defense in A&M's option attack. It's a toughness that had, and still has, a lot of fans worried about his health, but Franchione said not even he can change his QB's attitude.

"I don't think I'm going to win the battle on him taking people on. I've tried. That's Stephen McGee's persona," said Franchione.

It has also been a concern for Aggies because of the injuries that their quarterback has already sustained. Most notably, during the second practice of summer two-a-days last year, McGee tore his triceps muscle in his throwing arm. He didn't throw another football until the week of A&M's first game. According to Franchione, it altered the Texas A&M gameplan, limiting how often the offense could throw down the field.

"I think that burden needs to go on us more than him (McGee) and more the circumstances of not being able to throw all through the month of August," said Franchione. "We all know Stephen McGee can throw the football. He's proven it time and time again."

The true extent of McGee's injury and what affect it had on the offense has been a healthy topic of debate for A&M fans ever since it occurred, but regardless of how much it actually diminished the QB's throwing ability, McGee is making no excuses.

"There's no excuse about my arm. That's irrelevant at this point," said McGee. "Was it at the strongest it's been in my career? Probably not, but that's no excuse. We could still do anything we wanted to do."

What the Aggies were able to do last season was run their way to a victory over the Longhorns. McGee said his team's focus was what allowed them to win on the road.

"There's a level of focus you have to take on the road," said McGee. "Often times it's a hostile environment and you have to block all that out and just focus on the task at hand."

The focus from the fans and media are on McGee, but Texas A&M defensive end Chris Harrington said that the Aggies coming together as a team was the main reason for their success.

"It takes a team to win on the road," said Harrington. "Your fans aren't there. It's all about you and your teammates."

Most Texas A&M players speak of the boost the win gives to each of them, but when it came to the win over Texas, McGee spoke in more general terms about his team's road success.

"It was a good win for us on the road, but they're all important," said McGee. "Last time I checked, you only get one win for beating Texas."

In fact, the player that seemed most excited about the victory was one that didn't even play in the game. Defensive tackle Red Bryant missed the final two games of the season, including the win over Texas, due to injury, but said he was cheering as hard as he could the whole way.

"My teammates were doing a great, I was so happy for them," said Bryant. "It was indescribable, because T-U had beaten us (six) years straight."

Bryant was a major part of the A&M defense last season and should be again this year, but he says one of the things he was most proud to see was how well his teammates did playing in his place. It allowed the Aggies to get, in Bryant's opinion, what was most important for securing the win.

"Pressure," said Bryant. "If you go back and watch the game, our front four beat their front. I tell them all the time, I'm extremely proud of them."

The Aggies were 5-0 on the road last season, including the upset in Austin, and will take the confidence built from their perfect road record and try to win a few more at home this year. They'll have to, because this season the Longhorns headed to Kyle Field.


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