Arkansas's next opponent came to my town last night, Stillwater, Oklahoma, to give me a preview of what to expect in Arlington when we meet for the second time in our ten year series. My employer and students pulled out a 38-35 victory last night over the Aggies that was just as thrilling as the score might lead you to think. There were momentum shifts back and forth and turnovers galore. Maybe you caught it on ESPN. From what I read, I know the Hogs were watching the game. Seeing as Bobby Petrino might be depending upon my analysis of the Aggies, haha, I thought I would post a few thoughts about what I saw and what we might expect next weekend from our maroon and white ex-wife from College Station.
* Tim Deruyter, new defensive guru for the Aggies, I think will have the Aggie defense in better shape than what we saw last year. He seems to specialize in shutting down high octane offenses. The announcers said he shutdown Houston's in the Armed Services Bowl when he was at Air Force last year. And I think he did a good job last night, especially in the first half, of dialing up blitzes and knocking OSU's offense off their game. Mallett and company, beware of Tim Deruyter.
* If we don't get some turnovers out of Jerrod Johnson, we should just pack up our defense and put it in a storage closet. Jerrod turned the ball over five times last night, four through the air! His long passes would at times just float through the air like a blimp. His bullets would sometimes go directly to a member of the opposing team. Yeah, Hogs, your turnover margin should improve next weekend.
* HOWEVER, Jerrod at times looked every bit A&M's passing leader. He lead chain moving drives that ate clock, and he ended up throwing for five touchdowns himself. When he is on, he is on. When he is off, he can be badly off. The question is during how much of the Arkansas game will he be on? Hopefully, not a lot. Remember, this is the same guy who gave Texas fits last year.
* A&M scored two touchdowns with a nice little shovel pass that we need to be on the look out for. I would actually like to see us use that play more ourselves. Haha, it is almost like running the ball!
* Names to watch for. Ryan Swope and Cyrus Gray. Both are serious threats to score.
* A&M also has a player named Christine Michael. No, A&M isn't playing a girl, and he sure doesn't run like one!
* Speaking of running, OSU has a healthy Dennis Johnson. His name in Kendel Hunter. He gave OSU a viable run threat that I wish we had right now. Hunter is not a power back, but a quick darter and dasher. Reminded me of Michael Smith as well. Oh my kingdom for another year of eligibility for Michael Smith!
* Take note, Ronnie, Wingo. OSU's first touchdown came by way of a running back catching a pass out of the backfield.
* OSU scored a touchdown out of their pistol offense. Might it be time to really start to use that?
* You can get a sack on Jerrod, especially if you blitz your corners. We got to him last year. And the A&M line doesn't seem to be that much older or wiser, so we should get to him again.
* OSU did a good job of getting yards after catch. I expect we will as well. But A&M has found themselves some pretty tall receivers themselves, Greg Childs types, that we will need to be very aware of.
* Our problem. Their problem too. At the end of the game, OSU's high flying offense just needed to run out some clock. They were up by seven. Drain the clock and you make things very difficult for the Aggies. Two incomplete passes and a stuffed running play and just with a few ticks drained off the clock, the Cowboys were punting the ball. The Aggies would go on and score on that next drive, thus locking things up at 35-35. One of the announcers said, "This is the achilles heel of this system." Yeah, tell me about it.
* I don't know what the final percentage was, but A&M was at times very, very consistent at picking up third down. Our defense is going to have to step up its game on third down, or it will get marched upon just like Alabama did to us in the second half last weekend.
* Finally, the mood of the Aggies? Hmm. They lost a game on a last second field goal. A game they could have won if not for all the turnovers by the quarterback. Hmm, sound familiar? Both teams next weekend will be coming off heartbreakers and will be looking for redemption. Here is to hoping the Hogs have put Alabama behind them, but the Aggies have not gotten over losing to their conference foe. I think ultimately it will be the Hogs that get bathed in those waters of redemption, but it will not be an easy task. A&M is better than last year and can certainly trade punches. Go in there and expect to win just because we are the SEC and we beat them last year will get us beat. We have our work cut out for us, a conclusion that I hope the Hogs drew themselves as they sat around their televisions last night in Fayetteville.