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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Patterson's move crucial for Aggies' bowl hopes

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's understandable that most of the attention around Texas A&M's preseason practices this training camp has been dominated by the switch of record-breaking wide receiver Ryan Tannehill to quarterback.

Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman raised some eyebrows when he announced earlier this week that he was installing Tannehill as the Aggies' permanent backup at quarterback behind Jerrod Johnson, despite Tannehill's productive season last year when he set school freshman records with 55 receptions and 844 yards.

But an even more telling announcement was made that same day when Sherman switched starting junior left tackle Lucas Patterson back to defense where he made 11 starts and produced 34 tackles last season.

Sophomore Danny Baker now inherits the rather imposing job of protecting Johnson's blind side from the left tackle position. Patterson was already back with the Aggies' first-team goal-line defense by his first practice.

"I thought Lucas was making progress on offense," Sherman told reporters when he made the switch. "I hate moving guys around, but I felt like more than anything else that the development of the young defensive linemen has been very slow. We really need to have Lucas on defense.

"He'll help us be better on defense, and ultimately that was the answer. I would still prefer to have him on offense if all things were even, but they weren't. We just needed a run-stopper on defense and that's what he is. He's an unselfish player and said he'll do whatever it takes to win and help us be a better football team. If he had his preference I think he'd rather be on offense, he made that commitment, but he saw the same things I saw. I'm glad we did it."

Sherman's decision speaks to several observations after watching the Aggies practice.
Their offensive line is a little better than I expected.Their defensive front is devoid of many playmakers, especially at defensive tackle.This is a critical move both ways because the season is less than two weeks away.Patterson was a highly regarded prospect at left tackle. He was so highly thought of that the Aggies sent him to media days in Irving, Texas, last month to represent his team about his move back to offense.

But it's a move that Sherman thought had to be made now. It's exacerbated by the fact that the Aggies were the worst team in the conference at defending the run and protecting the quarterback last season.

So Sherman was left with the Solomon-like decision of determining which part of his team needed more immediate help.

After looking around the South Division at all of the explosive rival offenses, Sherman made the wise decision of choosing defense.

Sherman desperately needs to make a bowl game this season.

Decisions like those he announced earlier this week will go a long way in determining whether he will get there.