COLUMN: A view from the opponent’s sidelines
For many Texas A&M fans, the memory of a 77-0 drubbing by Oklahoma in 2003 is still very fresh. When the 2008 season began with a loss to Arkansas State, Aggie fans were predicting this season’s meeting with the Sooners to exceed the 77-point mark, the worst in school history.
However, A&M has won two consecutive games for the first time in 2008 with wins over Iowa State and Colorado.
Aggie fans are now talking about 2002’s 30-26 upset win against then-No. 1 Oklahoma at Kyle Field.
The sad truth for A&M fans is the 26-point margin set by Las Vegas for Saturday’s game is a low hurdle for the Sooners to leap.
But if the A&M football team is as upset-minded as head coach Mike Sherman was in Monday’s news conference, the puzzle pieces will have to fall into place quickly.
“This would be a very special moment if we could beat this team,” Sherman said. “Certainly it’s a formidable task, but these things do happen.”
Sophomore quarterback Jerrod Johnson was rushed into the spotlight when veteran Stephen McGee suffered an injury against New Mexico on Sep. 6. Johnson led the Aggies to a 28-22 road win with 124 passing yards and three touchdown passes.
In the six games Johnson has started this season, he has averaged 298 passing yards per game has thrown 14 touchdown passes. In a crowded market of Big 12 quarterbacks, Johnson has quietly posted big numbers.
Johnson needs to control the pace and play lights out to keep the A&M offense in the game. He needs to hit his favorite targets Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Fuller — who have combined for 1,198 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns — frequently.
However, the Aggie defense will be the decisive factor if A&M pulls the upset. The Aggies are ranked No. 104 nationally in total defense and rushing defense and No. 79 nationally in pass defense.
Since A&M has struggled to hold opponent’s yardage down, turnovers will be key for defensive coordinator Joe Kines and the Aggie defense. The Aggies forced three fumbles against Colorado but failed to recover the ball. But three interceptions, two by freshman defensive back Trent Hunter, kept A&M in the game.
The Aggies will need a similar performance from defensive players Hunter, junior linebacker Matt Featherston and junior defensive back Jordan Pugh to take the win from the Sooners.
— Brad Cox is the sports editor of the Texas A&M Battalion.