Ahhhh, good ol' sleeping Mike Sherman. Not your finest moment my man. Some A&M fans might go so far as to say Sherman has been asleep at the wheel this season, well at least in second halves anyway. Sure, the Aggies are an easy punching bag at the moment but don't let that fool you into a false sense of security. This Texas A&M team coming to Norman on Saturday is more than capable of creating a home field losing streak as opposed to the start of a new winning streak that we're all anticipating. If the Texas Tech debacle has taught us, or more importantly of course this team, anything it's that nothing can be taken for granted. Even on Owen Field.
So it's with that mindset that we look at some things that 'can't happen' if our Sooners want to win this game. I think all our regulars here are smart enough to know that these are not written in stone and do not mean that if one, or more, happen that we have no chance of winning. However since there is a chance we might be joined by some Aggie friends, I felt the need to clarify that these are more observations about what OU needs to do are be successful at in order to win on Saturday. If it helps Ags, read that last sentence really, really slowly. Maybe even go back and read it a couple more times. Heck, just have your friend that can read do it for you. Trust me, it will make things much easier and your head won't hurt quite so bad after.
Now that our public service disclaimer has been made, we can move on to the actual game.
OU can't let the A&M run game go off. I'm a big fan of basically every individual player on this OU defense and the unit as a whole. That said, I'm also a realist or at least like to think that I am. So my expectations for "containing" Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael as opposed to "shutting them down" is where I think most of Sooner Nation should be heading into Saturday. Both are incredibly talented and there will be zero drop off when one comes off the field and the other comes on. In my opinion, from the games I've watched this year, Michael is the bigger threat but that certainly doesn't mean Gray (or both for that matter) isn't capable of having a big game.
OU can't forget about Ryan Tannehill's legs. Pretty much every OU defense under Stoops/Venables has had a problem being too aggressive at times. So it's in that frame of mind that I'd remind them about Tannehill's running ability. He's not a guy who will repeatedly look to run necessarily, but if the opportunity is there he's more than athletic enough to take advantage. I doubt anyone here needs to be reminded of his previous seasons played at WR, trust me you'll hear it no less than 15 times during the broadcast Saturday, so clearly the kid is not a statue back there. If the Sooners front seven plays undisciplined in their pass rush or gets too far up field, Tannehill will make them pay with his running ability.
OU can't let Ryan Swope beat them. Jeff Fuller and Uzoma Nwachukwu are legitimate threats, but Swope is the kind of guy that kills OU. Traditionally, the Sooners have defended guys like Fuller and Nwachukwu pretty well but it's the speedy slot guys that have hurt them in the past. They line Swope up in the slot and against this Venables defensive scheme, he will more than likely be matched up with a LB or safety. OU refuses to play three CBs at any time, unless you count Aaron Colvin, so Swope could have a significant advantage if the Sooners defense can't get the match up they're looking for pre-snap. Swope had a big game last year, though almost half his yards came on one catch, and proved to be a very difficult match up for the OU defense. Coming off our last home game where the secondary got torched, this defense will have to know where Swope is before every play.
OU can't let their d-line get dominated. A&M brings two future NFL tackles to Norman (Luke Joeckel & Jake Matthews), so the talented OU DEs will have their hands full trying to get through them to Tannehill. As many threats as Tannehill has at is disposal, if the Sooners can't get a pass rush they will have little chance to cover all those options for an extended time. Eventually he will find someone who has found space and hurt this defense for yards and/or points. Frank Alexander, Ronnell Lewis, David King, R.J. Washington, and company have played at a very high level pretty much all season, but this game Saturday will easily be their toughest challenge to date.
OU can't let this defense regain their confidence. A&M fans may argue, but this just simply isn't a very good defense. Don't get me wrong, there is talent and a good deal of it but for whatever reason they struggle to play consistently game in and game out (heck, half in and half out). The secondary in particular has been a sore spot all year, but any team can quickly regain their confidence if you're giving them the ball. OU will need Good Landry to show up, not at all unlikely given the venue, and avoid any bad INTs that could give a struggling A&M defense all the momentum it needs to believe it can win. The most dangerous thing this OU offense can do is give the Aggie defenders that little spark of hope that they might have a shot. Crush their will to win early and often with touchdowns, not field goals, and make them want to get out of town as quickly as possible.
What else does A&M do that causes you some concern? Areas of the game where you see A&M possibly having an advantage? A&M fans lurking, what did we miss?