A&M looks to rebound against No. 7 OU
Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07
Head coach Mike Sherman said Saturday's matchup against No. 7 Oklahoma provides Texas A&M with the platform it needs to vault back into national prominence. After three losses this season, a rebound in Norman would restore the team's confidence and set it on a winning trajectory for the four remaining games.
"As disappointing as it was to lose the ballgame and as frustrating as it is, the true measure of a team is your ability to bounce back and rise above it all," Sherman said. "It's easy to lay down on that mat. I tell them all the time it's not easy to play football. Football is a game of one-on-one matchups, and 11 guys winning their matchups."
"Our ability to win our matchups in the upcoming game is going to be huge. Oklahoma bounced back against a very good Kansas State team, and our ability to bounce back is a true measure of who we are."
Last year's doldrums — consecutive losses to Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri — look eerily similar to this year's script. But after an embarrassing 30-9 home loss to the Tigers last season, senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill led the team to six straight wins and a bowl berth, a replicable feat, said Tannehill, if the team can withstand scrutiny and find the strength within themselves to finish football games.
"We have the type of guys on this team that can do it, the type of players that are capable of making plays," Tannehill said. "Does that mean that's how it's going to happen? No. It's up to us and how we respond. I'm going to do everything in my power to get this team ready to play. I think the guys will respond and be ready to play on Saturday."
Before a slip-up against Texas Tech two weekends ago, the Sooners had won 39 consecutive games at Owen Field. The Aggies will have their hands full if they hope not to become the first notch on OU's next home winning streak.
The Sooners trot out the No. 1 total offense and No. 2 total defense in the Big 12. Quarterback Landry Jones' 386.8 passing yards per game ranks at the top of the conference charts, and wide receiver Ryan Broyles also leads the conference in receptions per game (10.1), receiving yards per game (133.8) and punt return average (10.4).
Last weekend, playing No. 8 Kansas State on the Wildcats' turf, Jones threw a school-record 505 yards — 171 of those ended up in the hands of Broyles, who broke the Big 12 record for career receiving yards (4,499) and led the Sooners in the 58-17 massacre.
The Aggies are hopeful that senior cornerback and Jim Thorpe Award nominee Coryell Judie will be back on the field in full strength to help mitigate the potency of the Oklahoma aerial attack.
"It's definitely going to help this defense [Judie's return]," senior cornerback Terrence Frederick said. "Judie is a big part of this defense, he's known to make plays."
A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said the Aggies will need to force the Sooners into making mistakes if they hope to escape from Norman with a victory.
"If we can get three or more takeaways I think we'll have a great shot," DeRuyter said.
Sherman said that, while the Sooners have been nearly indomitable at home during the Bob Stoops era, he will be prepping his squad as best he knows how in an attempt to earn the ever-elusive road upset.
"Oklahoma is not only a great offense, but there are not a whole lot of weaknesses on the defensive side and on special teams," Sherman said. "Collectively they are a very good football team. They started the season ranked number one, had a hiccup against Texas Tech and bounced back like good teams do against a good K-State team. It's a challenge but one we're definitely looking forward to."