November 21, 2006

Aggies looking to upset archrival Texas in Austin

When Texas A&M travels to face No. 11 Texas Friday in the annual Lone Star Showdown at DKR-Memorial Stadium in Austin at 11 a.m. on ABC, the two teams will be coming off heartbreaking losses.

For the Aggies it's two consecutive one-point home losses. For the Longhorns, they will be coming off a 45-42 road loss at Kansas State that pushed them out of the national title hunt.

The game has added importance on both sides as well other than the annual bragging rights. The Aggies hope to end their skid, end coaching speculations and guarantee themselves a high-tier bowl. Texas needs the win to salvage their season by winning the South division crown and assure itself a spot in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska.

Here is a breakdown comparing the Aggie and Longhorns.


A&M Offensive Line

Texas Defensive Line

A&M's offensive line has been steady all season long, but Friday they will face their stiffest competition to date. If the Aggies want to win this game, they will have to get their rushing game off on a solid start, and everything will start with the offensive line. If the line does it's job and the Aggies continue to chew up yards on the ground, then A&M will be able to go to the air to strike at Texas' porous pass defense.

Texas has a defensive line that most coaches dream about. It's rare that a team can lose playmakers and immediately replace them and continue to be dominant. Tim Crowder, Brian Robison, Frank Okam[/db] and Roy Miller form arguably the best defensive line in the country. Together the Longhorns have 34 sacks, 9.5 from Crowder, and 93 tackles for losses.
A&M Passing Offense

Texas Passing Defense

Stephen McGee has been consistent this season, but he hasn't been asked to do a lot with his arm and the Aggies haven't made the deep ball a part of their arsenal except for on trick plays like halfback passes and flea flickers. Against Texas the Aggies needs to go to the air more often to strike at Texas' one glaring weakness. A&M has the weapons to do it, it's just a matter of if they will.

Texas' pass defense is ranked No. 111 in the nation by giving up 249 yards per game. Kansas State provided the blueprint of beating Texas, and it is definitely through the air. Cornerback Aaron Ross does have five interceptions and 18 pass breakups, but overall the Longhorn has been burnt throughout the season.
A&M Rushing Offense

Texas Rushing Defense

Mike Goodson has become an integral part of the A&M offense, and he has averaged 7.1 yards per carry this season with 99 carries for 699 yards. For anyone those numbers are just sick, even more so when coming from a true freshman. Jorvorskie Lane hasn't been used in A&M's last two close losses, but needs to be if A&M plans on running on Texas. The Aggies own the No. 8 rushing attack in the nation, and their battle against Texas' No. 1 rush defense will be the key to this game.

Where the Texas pass defense looks awful in the rankings, the Longhorn rush defense is spectacular as they rank No. 1 in the nation, giving up just 42 yards per game. The match up with the Aggies, however, is easily the toughest challenge Texas will face this season. Safety Michael Griffin is great providing extra run support behind a more-than-solid trio of starting linebackers.
A&M Defensive Line

Texas Offensive Line

The Aggies should be healthy again along the defensive line with Red Bryant most likely back. In his place Kellen Heard had his best game as an Aggie against Nebraska. Both ends Chris Harrington and Michael Bennett have improved throughout the season, and in Harrington's case All-Big accolades could await him. But they will be facing the best line they've seen this season, and the Aggies must get to Colt McCoy to throw the freshman, and Texas' offense, off their game.

The Texas offensive line is a very seasoned and experienced group anchored by guard Justin Blalock. The interior line is as good as it gets, and tackle Tony Hills has proven to be a very solid tackle. If the Aggies want to get pressure on McCoy they will have to use speed of the end and bring constant blitzes to beat this line. The main reason McCoy has been so good this season is because of the linemen in front of hm.
A&M Passing Defense

Texas Passing Offense

It's no secret that the Aggies have improved in pass defense this season under the tutelage of new secondary coaches Bill Clay and Van Malone. But they will have a strong test with McCoy who has been pinpoint accurate all season. A lot will be asked of cornerbacks Danny Gorrer and Jordan Peterson to shut down Texas' receivers.

McCoy has been stellar this season with a Texas single-season record 27 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions. He is completing passes at a 69.6-percent clip, and has passed for 2,102 yards. The receiving corps of Limas Sweed, Quan Cosby, Billy Pittman and tight ends Neale Tweedie and Jermichael Finley are very strong. Sweed is the favorite target with 42 catches for 717 yards and 11 touchdowns.
A&M Rushing Defense

Texas Rushing Offense

It's no secret that A&M's rush defense is lacking, but against Baylor, when the Bears decided to abandon their aerial attack and hit the ground, the Aggies came through with a solid effort. OU, though, is not Baylor when it comes to running the ball. Much like A&M, the Sooners like to win the time of possession battle, so A&M must win this aspect of the game and get off the field to win Saturday. Holding the sixth-best third-down efficiency on defense in the nation is a good start.

With all the hype surrounding McCoy this season, the Texas rushing attack that is averaging 179.5 yards per game hasn't been talked about much this season. But Jamaal Charles has put together a very solid season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scoring six touchdowns. Selvin Young has been steady as well gaining 536 yards on 115 carries. Henry Melton is a solid goal line back with six touchdowns this season.
A&M's Intangibles

Texas' Intangibles

With two consecutive home losses in very winnable games head coach Dennis Franchione has come under fire from fans and in the media. This game will go a long way in winning fans back if the Aggies could beat the rival Longhorns in Austin. Regardless of what is at stake, though, both A&M and Texas will be playing for in-state bragging rights.

The Longhorns need this win to salvage their season and win the Big 12 South and play in the Big 12 championship game. The trip to Kansas City would be bittersweet, though, since Texas was in the thick of national title conversations before their loss to Kansas State. This could easily be a trap game, but with it against the Aggies don't expect much of a letdown at all.

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