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Texas A&M Limping Into Norman Could Make Them More Dangerous

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Texas A&M is hurting! There's no doubt about it. There's no denying it. There's no hiding it. The high aspirations the Aggies had early in the season have crashed and burned and all that seems to be left after losses to Arkansas, Oklahoma State and now Missouri are cries for John Gruden and Bill Cowher to come save a program that seems to live in despair and disbelief. 

The latest Maalox moment for Texas A&M came last weekend when they lost to Missouri 38-31 in overtime after leading 28-17 at the half. It was the third second half collapse for the Aggies this season after previously blowing a 20-3 halftime lead against Oklahoma State and a 35-17 halftime lead against Arkansas. With two conference losses already there is not going to be a Big 12 championship or BCS bowl for the Aggies this season. They virtually have nothing to lose anymore and that actually could make them extremely dangerous.  

Aggies Football Schedule

SMU Sun 09/04 W 46 - 14
Idaho Sat 09/17 W 37 - 7
Oklahoma St. Sat 09/24 L 29 - 30
@ Arkansas Sat 10/01 L 38 - 42
@ Texas Tech Sat 10/08 W 45 - 40
Baylor Sat 10/15 W 55 - 28
@ Iowa St. Sat 10/22 W 33 - 17
Missouri Sat 10/29 L 31 - 38
@ Oklahoma Sat 11/05 2:30 PM CDT
@ Kansas St. Sat 11/12 TBA
Kansas Sat 11/19 2:30 PM CST
Texas Thu 11/24 7:00 PM CST

This Saturday will be a test of the character and merit for the Aggies. They have the opportunity to rebound from what has been a disappointing season to this point and spoil Oklahoma's chances at an eighth Big 12 championship in eleven years. That's certainly going to be the focus of Texas A&M when they take the field in Norman on Saturday. They've officially moved from the role of contender to spoiler and with the pressure off there's the chance that they could play as loose as they ever have and come after the Sooners with the same reckless abandon we saw Oklahoma attack Kansas State with last Saturday. 

The defining moment will be how many times the Aggies want to get up off the canvas after Oklahoma delivers a potential knockout blow. The Sooners absolutely must set the tone on Saturday and be the aggressor, not letting A&M build confidence. They are a team that struggles to finish and if OU can cause them to stumble out of the block then it could be a fun afternoon for the crimson and cream. 

Texas A&M is fourth in the conference in scoring offense at 39.3 points per game, fifth in passing offense (295.3 YPG) and second in rushing offense (224.5 YPG). The problem for the offense, as well as the defense, has been the second half. We'll get to the defense here is a second but for the offense it just seems to be an adjustment problem. Opponents are making adjustments and A&M isn't. For example, last weekend after scoring 28 points in the first half the Aggies didn't score again until the kicked a field goal with 5:21 left in the fourth. After forcing only two punts in the first half the Missouri defense was able to force three punts and three turnovers in the second half

Passing Rushing Sacks
G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL
2011 - Ryan Tannehill 8 103.0 200 306 65.4 2322 290.3 7.6 18 7 39 227 28.4 5.8 4 7 -33

Keying in on quarterback Ryan Tannehill is where defensive game plan begins. He is quick enough on his feet where he could certainly hurt you if he gets free so that makes the zone-read a dangerous play against Oklahoma's defense. He doesn't have the strongest arm and his favorite pass seems to be a short out pass into the flat. Its a dangerous pass because its extremely hard to defend but its also a dangerous pass for the offense because if the defender can jump it then it could quickly turn into a pick six the other way. 

On the defensive side of the ball Texas A&M is solid against the run. The 105.4 yards per game they allow are the third best mark in the Big 12. Where they struggle is against the pass and in the second half. That's not necessarily a good thing when facing an offense like Oklahoma's.

Texas has only nabbed four interceptions on the season while giving up 14 passing touchdowns. Their 318.3 yards allowed through the air per game is the worst in the Big 12. They'll be going up against an Oklahoma passing offense that averages a Big 12 best 396.6 yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks complete 63.5% of their passes against the Aggies with an average of 43 passing attempts per game.

Conditioning seems to be an issue with the Texas A&M defense as well. Against Oklahoma State and Arkansas we saw on numerous occasions when fatigue sat in and cramps took over. Against Missouri it was evident the Aggie defense wore down as the Tigers scored 14 unanswered points in the second half and another touchdown in the overtime to win the game.