Thursday, October 27, 2011
Different A&M than one Mizzou beat in '10
By David Ubben
Texas A&M doesn't need much of a reminder of its matchup with Missouri last year.
The 30-9 loss was the lowpoint in a season that included both a six-game winning streak and three-game losing streak, as well as a share of the Big 12 South title.
On second thought, the Aggies might need a reminder, considering coach Mike Sherman dramatically burned the game film in front of the team as an illustration to help them move forward.
"It was a terrible game for us. We got our butts kicked, but things did turn around after that," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said of last season's loss to Missouri.
"It was a terrible game for us. We got our butts kicked, but things did turn around after that," Sherman said.
The offense sputtered while Blaine Gabbert shredded the secondary. A team looking to find its legs got easily outrun by a squad hitting its midseason stride.
"We were trying to feel ourselves out, trying to find out what our identity was," Sherman said. "We were struggling with pass protection, struggling with run blocking and we continued to have struggles in that game. Our offensive line didn’t get settled down about halfway through the season."
Mizzou will face a much different Texas A&M team this time around, one that's well aware of its identity and how dangerous it can be on both sides of the ball.
That 4-2 record is nothing to be ashamed of, either.
"We lost to two top 10 teams by five points. I don’t look at it the way you guys do. We were obviously disappointed about losing the game, about giving up leads, but there were some positives in that game as well," Sherman said.
Texas A&M has pressured passers all season long, leading the nation in sacks, though it has the nation's worst pass defense by 17 yards per game.
There's no struggling quarterback this year, as Jerrod Johnson was against Mizzou last season. In his place is Ryan Tannehill, who has thrown nine touchdowns and just one interception during the Aggies' three-game win streak that followed losses to Arkansas and Oklahoma State. He's also flanked by two of the Big 12's top seven rushers, Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael.
"We’re trying to find out the right mix and match between the run and pass," Sherman said.
Oklahoma lost last week, and one slip-up by Oklahoma State before its season-ending Bedlam could keep Big 12 title hopes alive in College Station.
"When you win three in a row, you have to be very critical, but you have to let those kids gain some confidence from those wins," Sherman said. "I’ll be hard on them today in things we have to get better at. It’s a lot easier to do that when you win a game than when you lose a game."
Before those Big 12 title scenarios can come into play, though, Texas A&M has to win the final five games on its schedule, which features two more top 10 teams.
Instead of being the low point from which to start, Missouri could be the next step forward for the Aggies this time around.
"We got a lot better between Games 7 and 12 last year, and I hope we do the same thing this year," Sherman said.