Culpepper's Commentary: Texas A&M Preview

After sitting on this for a week, I think Coach Dennis Franchione's mental state has a lot to do with the outcome of this game. He is the Aggie version of John Mackovic and will be replaced by a tough, take-charge, Bob Stoops-type coach. Money is no object – the Houston Aggie Club could come up with Franchione's $8.5 million buyout by passing the hat at their next meeting!

Against Missouri, the Aggies tried their 3-man defensive line liked they used against Texas Tech. They gave up 35 points in the loss to the Red Raiders and the Tigers got 40, so I don't think Texas will see the "Aggie 3" since Jamaal Charles has experienced such a resurrection at running back since the Baylor game.

Kansas shut down the Aggie power option attack at Kyle Field and forced A&M to try to win by passing. Stephen McGee got hot versus Missouri throwing to his 6-foot-7 tight end Martellus Bennett.

So I'm not sure Franchione can go back to the running game versus the Longhorns' two-deep zone. It would give Texas problems but there is so much pressure on the Aggie coaches that they can't afford an offense at a slower pace even though it might be the best chance they have of beating the Horns. Stephen McGee running the lead option where the Aggie tight end blocks the Texas defensive end and the fullback comes around for the outside linebacker (Scott Derry and Robert Killebrew) made crucial first downs in last year's game and finally left McGee in the Texas end zone with a 12-7 victory.

Can Chris Hall hold up at the left offensive tackle position or will Texas have to try Adam Ulatoski at that spot? It is important because it protects the blindside of Colt McCoy on pass protection.

The difference in this year's game is Colt McCoy. Last year, despite what was put out by the Texas coaches, McCoy was physically fragile and was confused by the changes in the Aggie secondary coverage. He played like a scout team quarterback and was no threat to run. The biggest question about Colt in last year's contest was, "How long will he last?"

But this is now and along with Chase Daniel of Missouri McCoy has become a true playmaker, passing and running from the shotgun formation. Not the zone read but taking off when the opponent's pass rushers leave open running lanes.

The Texas coaches and players have lived with the physical beating at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for one whole year. The Aggies loved the picture they painted in Austin running over Longhorns on the ground and leveling McCoy.

It seems to me Coach Mack Brown has taken matters into his capable hands and enjoys the advantage of a solid Longhorn rushing attack and letting Colt play in his reckless fashion that allowed the Longhorns to come back against Oklahoma State and Nebraska and then offensively dominate Texas Tech.

Even though Derek Lokey was injured before the Aggie game last year he had to watch the pounding in Austin from the sidelines and I look for him as the leader of the Longhorn defense to have an outstanding football game Friday.

This game will be close until midway through the third quarter and at that point I believe Texas will pull away. I call it Texas 35, Texas A&M 20.

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at

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