October 1, 2008

Scouting the Aggies: Time for payback?

The last three contests against Texas A&M have been nightmares for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

In 2005, the Aggies beat up on the Pokes, posting a 62-23 win at Kyle Field. Two years ago, a blocked extra point in overtime secured a 34-33 win for A&M in Stillwater. And last season, OSU blew a 17-point lead and lost 24-23 at Aggieland.

That just about covers the ways one team can lose to another. The only other way would be to be favored by 24 or 25 points and lose. That's the situation OSU faces going in, backed as a heavy favorite by the betting universe against a team that many believe is abysmal in 2008. Their two wins have come by a combined 10 points to teams (Arkansas State, Army) that just aren't very good. This has to be the year OSU breaks this nasty streak against the Ags, right?

Right? We'll find out this Saturday. But what is there to know about the Aggies coming into the game? Read on.

College Station
2007 record: 7-6 (4-4 Big 12)
Game time: 6:05 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater
Current record: 2-2
Last week: 21-17 win over Army
Current ranking: N/A (OSU ranked 21st in AP)
Fact of the week:Texas A&M's school of government and public service is named after George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States.

… the Aggie offense:
It's a bit of a mess at the moment. The team ranks 107th in total offense (297.75 yards per game). Quarterback Stephen McGee is banged up, having re-injured his shoulder in A&M's win over Army. He first hurt it New Mexico almost a month ago. Head coach Mike Sherman told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that "Stephen McGee's injury wasn't quite as severe as it was after the New Mexico game, but it's still a recurring injury, so there's some concern there." His backup, Jerrod Johnson also suffered a shoulder injury against the Black Knights. … Remember Javorskie Lane? Apparently A&M doesn't. So far in 2008, he only has 57 yards rushing on 14 attempts with a whopping zero touchdowns. The majority of the handoffs have gone to Michael Goodson, who has 220 yards and two scores on 53 attempts. Goodson also has 17 catches, 140 yards and two TDs in the receiving department. The leader in that area is Jeff Fuller, who has 12 catches for 179 yards and four scores.
… the Aggie defense: They're strong in one area, but weak in another. Overall, the unit is 76th (366 ypg). But the Aggies are horrible against the run, allowing an average of 227 yards a game (115th nationally). They're better against the passing game, ranking 5th nationally in pass defense (139 ypg). They're 71st in scoring defense, allowing an average of 24.5 ppg. They allowed 41 points to Miami, but other than that have kept their opponents at 23 points or less in their other three contests of the season.
… the coach: A former head coach for the Green Bay Packers for six seasons, Sherman was named A&M's 28th head coach on Nov. 26, 2007. He was the only coaching candidate interviewed and signed a seven-year deal for $1.8 million a season. Before coming to Aggieland, he spent two seasons with the Houston Texans on the offensive staff. Before his arrival, the Aggies ran a zone read style offense, but Sherman ditched that in favor of a West Coast system for this season.

If OSU can't beat A&M this year, the Cowboys might as well march out of Stillwater right behind that overrated, follow-the-leader band. Typically, A&M is a respected program and not an "easy win" on the schedule. But this year, things are different. The Cowboys' offense is starting to take off and the Aggies almost found a way to lose to Army last weekend. They were roasted by an iffy Miami team. They lost to Arkansas State. They barely beat New Mexico. What's all this mean? That it's time for the Cowboys to exact some payback on the Aggies. The word of the weekend will be pain. OSU 68, A&M 18.

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