In an attempt to garner more information about this week's K-State opponent, I posed five questions to Beergut of the Texas A&M blog I Am The 12th Man. You can also check out my answers to his questions here.
BOTC: The Aggies are much improved this year on the offensive side of the ball. What's been the biggest change?
12th Man: Maturation of our keys players at the skill positions. Jerrod Johnson was a redshirt sophomore last year, Cyrus Gray was a true freshman, Jeff Fuller was a true freshman, Ryan Tannehill was a redshirt freshman, etc. All of those guys are a year older and a year more mature, physically and mentally.
A switch to a no-huddle attack has helped immensely, too, helping us get more plays on offense and wear down the opposing defenses. We're averaging a little over 86 plays per game on offense, which is a lot of opportunities to move the ball.
Mike Sherman has also done a good job recruiting on offense; true freshman Uzoma Nwachuwu and Christine Michael have been key contributors as true freshmen this season.
BOTC: Despite the offensive improvement, the offensive line play has been atrocious at times. What's the primary factor?
12th Man: Last season, we entered the year with 6 scholarship offensive linemen, so we had no depth. We are still trying to create some depth, while putting a capable line on the field, and it has been a struggle. I think we're still a year away from having a competent offensive line. Our biggest issue has been youth at key positions. We've started a true sophomore or a true freshman at LT in all of our games this season. That menas at times we're playing an 18 year old five months removed from high school against 21-22 yr old men; the physical difference along is staggering.
BOTC: Texas A&M is mired in a historically bad stretch of football right now. What is the time frame for the Aggies getting back to being competitive with Oklahoma and UT in the South?
12th Man: I think we expect to be competing with and possibly beating both of those teams by next season, at the latest. I think expecting to compete for the South division title in the third year of a coaching regime is not an unrealistic expectation, and I think that is where we will be in 2010.
BOTC: Other than Von Miller and Jerrod Johnson, give us a player on each side of the ball to keep an eye on Saturday.
12th Man: Offense: Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR
He is simply an athletic playmaker with ridiculous leaping ability. He has 16 receptions for 309 yards and 4 TDs on the season so far, with a rushing TD to his credit.
Defense: Trent Hunter, SS
He is the best strong safety in the Big 12, and one of the best in the nation.
BOTC: In lieu of a score prediction, give us some keys for Texas A&M to win this game.
12th Man: We need to stop your running game early. I expect Snyder to try to run the ball as much as possible, especially against our defense. We need to stop the run, and force y'all to pass the ball. It would be very helpful if we can get some early scores on the board, and force y'all to play catch up.
On offense, we need to spread the ball around in the passing game, and get it into the hands of our playmakers like Nwachukwu, Jamie McCoy, Ryan Tannehill, and Christine Michael. Keeping Jerrod Johnson upright and keeping the defensive pressure off of him is imperative.