Thursday, November 10, 2005

aTm/OU Preview

photo from

I made the blog bet with Ryan at Texas A&M & Baseball. If the Sooners win he has to promote My Opinion on Sports on his site for a week and if A&M wins I have to do the same for him.

In conjunction with that we wrote previews of the game for each other's sites. Below is Ryan's and you can click here to read mine on his site. Make sure to leave your comments on both sites.

This weekend's game is a big one in Aggieland. It would sure be nice to pick up a win and become bowl eligible before even having to play the sips from Austin.
I said it several weeks ago on my site and I'll say it again....I wish we played yall earlier in the season because I knew you would get stronger as the season went on. Somehow we've been getting hosed with our November schedules in recent years.
You're probably wondering what has happened to this team that was supposed to contend for the Big XII title. Well, there are lots of us wondering the same thing.
Mainly it's been just flat out poor defense. We are ranked #105 in the nation in total defense, thanks largely to our ranking of 116 in pass defense (our rush defense is 37th). If Bomar can get off passes without being pressured then all indications are that he should have a nice afternoon. We just can't get off the field....opponents have converted 49% of the time on 3rd down and 47% of the time on 4th down.
I think that part of the problem is that everyone was expecting us to be awesome simply because we were returning a lot of starters (18 from last season). What no one really thought about was that we're still a very young team. Last week against tech we started 10 underclassmen and we actually played with more than that for most of the game because Jaxson Appel left the game with an injury after the first possession and he was replaced with a true fish. It's mainly just our skill position guys who are upperclassmen (we start 1 upperclassman on OL and 1 on DLine).
The other big problem has been injuries. We have lost 11 players with season ending injuries.
When Jaxson went down the other night (I am not sure of his status for this weekend) it left us with 1 safety remaining from our original 2-deep depth chart for FS & SS. We lost both Japhus Brown & Jordan Chambless to torn ACLs. Lee Foliaki, our second best LBer, hasn't played a down since the Colorado game when he broke his arm. Thankfully, Fran has announced that he should be able to play this weekend with some sort of padding on it.
We have also lost 3 of our top 4 WRs coming into the season. L'Tydric Riley tore his ACL at the end of summer and Chad Schroeder & Earvin Taylor have each broken a leg as the season has gone on. That certainly shortened up the list of targets for Reggie in a hurry.
Anther big problem for us has been field position. Against tech our average starting field position was our own 19 yard line while theirs was their 42 yard line. Our true freshman punter, Justin Brantly, has a big leg (he's averaging 43.44 ypp) but we've given up a few long returns....and we're often kicking from deep in our own territory.
Our strongest asset is our running game. We are currently the 11th most prolific rushing offense in the land and we have 3 guys who contribute.
Our tailbacks are Jorvorskie Lane (true freshman; 4.7 ypc) & Courtney Lewis (6.0 ypc). Most of you probably remember Ja'Mar Toombs from a few years back....well, Lane is pretty much an exact replica. Lane has carried the ball 94 times and only has 3 negative yardage carries (all against KSU).
Lewis is more of a guy who can break off a big play (he has rushes of 78 & 48 in the last two games). He has missed a bit of playing time after reaggravating his ankle that he injured last season but seems to finally be healthy once again.
Our third ground carrier is Reggie McNeal (7.5 ypc). He gets a majority of his yards on long plays but we've changed our offense this season to more of a zone read option (like Utah ran last year) and with so many of our strong WRs out I don't think we're getting the blocks on the outside that we need. I'm not a big fan of the zone read option and I kind of wish that we'd go back to what we ran last year....but to each his own.
While our running game is our most effective weapon we still throw the ball around a bit, just not as much as last year. Jason Carter has emerged as a big time WR after several years as a man without a true position. Jason needs 153 yards to set the school's single season receiving record. He has, almost by default, become Reggie's go-to-guy with 49 of the team's 144 receptions.
I'd really like to see us stretch the field a little bit with the play action which should be set up well by our running game. That's something that I kind of expected to see more of than I have.
I really wanted to come up to Norman for the game but next week is a big week for me (a couple big projects are due) and I couldn't rally my buddies to drop the cash on tickets and gas to get up there.
Good luck....and Gig'em.