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Razorbacks, Aggies seek first SEC win

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 23:09

The Texas A&M football team is looking to keep momentum going this weekend as they face off against Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas.

After concluding most of their non-conference schedule, with only a game against Sam Houston State slated for November, the Aggies will now enter the thick of the SEC competition. After a heartbreaking loss to Florida to open the season, the Aggies have now put forth two consecutive winning efforts with a 48-3 rout of SMU and a 70-14 victory over South Carolina State.

While many critics will point out the competition level is nowhere close to that of the SEC, the Aggies have started to buy into head coach Kevin Sumlin’s offensive system. Also under the watch of defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, the defense has shown improvement game by game with stellar play from defensive end Damontre Moore, who is tied for third in the nation with six sacks.

“We’re better on the perimeter, just on numbers alone, but the speed will pick up dramatically from the last week,” Sumlin said. “There’s a reason that they’re preseason No. 8. They’ve got a lot of great skill: big offensive linemen, one of the best quarterbacks in the country.”

The challenge this week is the A&M defense going up against Arkansas offense. While the Razorbacks have had their share of troubles this season, their offense posses a threat with senior quarterback Tyler Wilson returning back to form after suffering an injury in a game against

“Just because they have lost three games in a row, it doesn’t mean we can look at them as if they are not a traditional Arkansas team,” Snyder said. “We have to prepare as if they are a very good team, which they are.”

The big story coming out from the weekend matchup against the Bulldogs of South Carolina State was the record night for punt returner and defensive back Dustin Harris. Harris was named SEC Co-Special Teams player of the week with a 96-yard punt return for a touchdown along with 246 punt return yards.

“My goal was just to play the game,” Harris said. “I go out there every time to just get the ball back to the offense. That’s my main goal. I had no idea about the record until it was posted on the big screen.”

The Aggies hope their special teams continue to give them a boost as the matchup against Arkansas returns to Kyle Field after being in Cowboys’ Stadium the past
three years.

“[Cowboys Stadium] is a good stadium, but it’s kind of like a monkey on our backs,” said senior wide out Ryan Swope.

“It’s a new experience there. I would much rather play at Kyle Field. We have a great atmosphere at home and we’ve got the 12th Man there with us.”

The most talked about story as the Aggies made their transition into the SEC was how their veteran offensive line, led by juniors Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, would hold up against the physical and violent defenses. For most of the season, it seems like the line has needed time to start creating the push to establish the running game. The offensive line will need to keep improving as the SEC schedule starts kicking up.

“Our running game hasn’t been great so far this year,” Joeckel said. “We’re still trying to work some things out. I think we’re getting better every single week with the running game.”

The Aggies will be seeking revenge after losing to the Razorbacks last year 42-38 with Tyler Wilson scorching the Aggie defense for 510 yards and three touchdowns. A&M senior running back Christine Michael rushed for 230 yards on 32 attempts and three touchdowns. With that game in a neutral site, the Aggies are hoping to seek revenge for a game they believe is theirs.

“I’m excited,” Swope said. “I know the [12th Man will] come out ready and stand the whole game and give us that great support that we need. I think it’s an advantage to have Kyle Field up behind us.”

The Aggies will face the Razorbacks this Saturday at Kyle Field. Game time is set for 11:21 a.m.


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