Page 1

The front line Senior co-captains Ryan Tannehill (left) and Trent Hunter will try to lead the Aggies to a Big 12 championship and more in 2011.

College Football 2011

The Eagle AggieSports.com

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eagle photo by Dave McDermand


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College Football 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

AggieSports.com


OPPONENT SMU Idaho Oklahoma State* Arkansas Texas Tech* Baylor* Iowa State* Missouri* Oklahoma* Kansas State* Kansas* Texas*

WHERE College Station College Station College Station Arlington Lubbock College Station Ames, Iowa College Station Norman, Okla. Manhattan, Kan. College Station College Station

TIME 6:30 p.m. 6 p.m. 6 p.m. TBA TBA 2:30 p.m. TBA 2:30 p.m. TBA TBA 2:30 p.m. 7 p.m.

TEXAS A&M 2010 RESULTS WHERE College Station College Station College Station Stillwater, Okla. Arlington College Station Lawrence, Kan. College Station College Station Waco College Station Austin Arlington

RESULT W 48-7 W 48-16 W 27-20 L 38-35 L 24-17 L 30-9 W 45-10 W 45-27 W 33-19 W 42-30 W 9-6 W 24-17 L 41-24

F

inally, the next season Texas A&M has waited more than a decade for is here, but Aggies have been talking more about joining the Southeastern Conference than what’s about to happen on the field. The move to the SEC and the fallout from leaving the Big 12 will be a distraction, and how the team handles it will help determine just how memorable this season will be. A&M head coach Mike Sherman kept the players focused in training camp without any trouble. The dynamics are different now that school has started. The players no longer will be isolated, and as the season progresses dealing with SEC questions time after time will become annoying. And it’s one thing to con-

Sports

Robert Cessna stantly say, “No comment.” But how will A&M handle opposing fans at Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma? Those venues have historically been tough places for the Aggies to win at, and you can bet the Wildcats, Red Raiders and Sooners would like nothing better than to strike a blow for those loyal to the Big 12 by beating the we’re-too-

good-for-you Aggies during their farewell tour. Remember how much A&M fans enjoy beating Big Tenbound Nebraska last year? Aggies loved it that Nebraska fans bemoaned the discrepancy in penalties — 16 for Nebraska, two for A&M. Do you really think A&M will get a call in Lubbock or Norman? This will be such a trying season, because A&M’s exit will be so unique. Few begrudged Nebraska heading to the Big Ten and Colorado joining the Pac-10 because those programs seemed better suited for those leagues. Besides, the Big 12 said it’d be better off with just 10 members, putting its money where its mouth was, paying an advertising firm a million

See CESSNA, Page 4

WhAT ARe YOu WAITING FOR?

Index

TEXAS A&M Robert Cessna column Robert Cessna Grades the Aggies QB Tannehill, FS Hunter ready to lead WR Jeff Fuller happy with choice to return ILB Garrick Williams studying hard RB Cyrus Gray ran with opportunity Aggies have kicker, still looking for punter Texas A&M preview Texas A&M 2010 results Texas A&M 2011 schedule Texas A&M depth chart BIG 12 Baylor preview Iowa State preview Kansas preview Kansas State preview Oklahoma preview Oklahoma State preview Texas preview Texas Tech preview AREA SCHOOLS Blinn preview

2011 will be a season to remember

AggieSports.com

DATE OPPONENT Sat., Sept. 4 Stephen F. Austin Sat., Sept. 11 Louisiana Tech Sat., Sept. 18 Florida International Thu., Sept. 30 Oklahoma State* Sat., Oct. 9 Arkansas Sat., Oct. 16 Missouri* Sat., Oct. 23 Kansas* Sat., Oct. 30 Texas Tech* Sat., Nov. 06 Oklahoma* Sat., Nov. 13 Baylor* Sat., Nov. 20 Nebraska* Thu., Nov. 25 Texas* Fri., Jan. 7 LSU• *Big 12 • Cotton Bowl, Cowboys Stadium

Memory maker

Friday, September 2, 2011

DATE Sun., Sept. 4 Sat., Sept. 17 Sat., Sept. 24 Sat., Oct. 1 Sat., Oct. 8 Sat., Oct. 15 Sat., Oct. 22 Sat., Oct. 29 Sat., Nov. 5 Sat., Nov. 12 Sat., Nov. 19 Thu., Nov. 24 *Big 12

College Football 2011

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AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011 College Football 2011

Former Blinn coordinator ready to take over By RICHARD CROOME richard.croome@theeagle.com

With two-a-days behind him and after a 65-19 victory in his debut as head coach of the Blinn Buccaneers, Ronny Feldman can finally get into a routine, spend a few more nights at home and start enjoying those long rides to work with his defensive coordinator. Feldman had already directed a highly efficient offense for four years at Blinn, so when he was hired to take over for Brad Franchione, he brought on an old friend in Bill Clay to take care of the other side of the ball. The two, having been coaches at Texas A&M, still live in College Station, and with things settling down somewhat after a hectic offseason, the 45-minute drive together will not only go by fairly quickly, it should save some time when it comes to meet-

ings. “Two-a-days start so early and we have so much video to watch, we haven’t got into a pattern yet but when the season gets going then we’ll start commuting,” said Feldman, who also rents a place in Brenham. “He’s such a joy to be around and we have a lot in common, good families that are important. I won’t mind that drive on a daily basis.” Feldman might even pay for the gas since he is more than grateful Clay, who has been a defensive coordinator for seven Division I schools since 1980, said yes when asked to take the job at Blinn. “I was very, very blessed and lucky to be able to hire him,” Feldman said. “When I said ‘Bill I can’t pay you what your worth to me, this program and the kids,’ his response was ‘I just want to coach ball.’ That’s the way he’s always been, just wanting to coach ball.”

Even though the Bucs lost seven defensive players, including Princeton Jackson, the conference defensive MVP, to four-year schools, Clay takes over an experienced defense with at least eight starting sophomores, most of which have red-shirted. “We have a really good defensive line, seven of the top eight guys red-shirted so they are here for a second or third year, which is a lot of maturity in junior college,” Feldman said. “If you have a good defensive line and quarterback, you have a chance to win a bunch of games.” Defensive end John Gandy, who Feldman described as not being the fastest or biggest, just a real good football player, leads the group the Bucs plan on rotating in and out. Ishmail Hayes, Roland Bordelon, Kenneth Smith and Jeremy Williams all have experience and were a part of

group that helped the Bucs go 8-3 in 2010 and defeat fourthranked Arizona Western in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl. Gandy, Hayes and Bordelon are all ends while Smith and Williams should get help in the middle from Rockdale’s Logan David, who has already been offered a scholarship by Texas A&M. “That is a bunch of experience with great work habits that understand the system,” Feldman said. Eddie Porter, a 6-3, 235pounder leads the charge at linebacker. He has been offered scholarships from several SEC teams. Ricky Francis and Earl Hienz, both red-shirt freshmen, help fill out the linebacking corps along with freshman Dustyn Leonard. The experience in the secondary, which lost former A&M Consolidated star Kip Daily to Kansas State, is at cornerback with Nashon Davis,

Jeremy Baltazar and former UTEP transfer Maurice Poullard. Andrew Fletcher of A&M Consolidated should see plenty of time at safety. “We are deep, and that is the thing that’s important,” said Feldman, who himself graduated from A&M Consolidated in 1972. On offense, Feldman has coached some of the best quarterbacks in junior college and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Feldman had another quarterback move on to an FBS school last year in Justin Tuggle, who is in a battle for a starting job at Kansas State. Eric Mathews of Brookshire Royal, a red-shirt freshman, replaces Tuggle. “He has a lot of talent, just hasn’t been put through the fire, so to speak,” Feldman said. “He has some growing up to do as far as decision-making and those kind of things.”

CESSNA: Aggies will play role of bad guys for leaving Big 12 Continued from 3

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bucks for a branding and imaging campaign saying how great life would be in the slimmer, trimmer dynamic Big 12. But even before the campaign kicked off, A&M said they wanted more money, more visibility and a better national brand. And the best way to accomplish wouldn’t be in the Big 12. Now it’s up to the football team to back that play. It won’t be easy. Many already regard A&M as the villain, leaving fellow in-state rivals Baylor and Texas Tech behind. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State aren’t pleased either. They were just starting to enjoy budding, financially rewarding rivalries with A&M. Do you think Oklahoma State will have a chip on its shoulder when it comes Kyle Field to open Big 12 play since the original Big 12 schedule had A&M at OSU, but the Aggies asked to switch so they could have five home league games this year and four next year, only they won’t be in the league? And then there’s Texas, the real reason the Aggies are

heading east. There’s room for only one kingpin in the Big 12 from the state and that’s the Longhorns. Everyone assumes the two will continue to play in football. Maybe, maybe not. But they’ll meet in Big 12 play only one more time. What a game that will be. Nebraska, which also tired of Texas running the Big 12 and left, spent all of last offseason pointing toward the sixth game of the season against the Longhorns at Memorial Stadium. The fifth-ranked Cornhuskers, though, laid an egg allowing Texas to walk off with a 20-13 victory. Hopefully, the Aggies won’t do the same. The added pressure on the team isn’t fair, but a byproduct of change, hopefully for the better in the future. But what about now? The seniors on the club won’t play in the SEC. Their legacy will be forever tied to the Big 12. Wide receiver Jeff Fuller didn’t pass on the NFL draft to help the Aggies become rivals of the Arkansas Razorbacks and LSU Tigers. He came back to beat the Cowboys, Sooners and Longhorns. He returned to hoist the Big 12 championship trophy at Kyle

Field after the UT game. The team’s goals are to win the Big 12 and represent the league in a BCS Bowl game, maybe even the national championship. Sherman has said that he can’t concern himself with all the SEC talk. “We can only control what we control — how we prepare for this season and all that outside stuff we let other people take care of that,” he said. “We just focus on what’s in front of us.” But what’s right in front of Sherman and the 2011 team will have a huge say in how the Aggies enter the SEC. There’s a debate about whether the Aggies will be on a level with kingpins Florida, LSU and Alabama in the SEC or be a middle-of-the pack program. At least a 10win season with a victory over future SEC rival Arkansas would serve notice that the Aggies mean business. But a loss to Arkansas, which would be the seventh straight to an SEC team, coupled with a third-place finish or lower in a conference that A&M wants out of would be just horrible in so many ways. Yes, it will be a season to

remember. But what will those memories be?

Robert Cessna’s email address is robert.cessna@theeagle.com.

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AggieSports.com

Texas A&M has experience with 18 returning starters. The Aggies have a favorable schedule with five Big 12 games at Kyle Field, which should be ready to rock in 2011 — A&M has set a school record for season-ticket sales. And A&M has its highest preseason ranking at No. 8 since 1999. That’s creating quite a buzz in Aggieland, but it’s not enough to ensure the Aggies will have a great season. “Every team we play, they have good players, good coaches. Something has to make the difference,” A&M head coach Mike Sherman said, “and it has to be our Xfactor, whatever that is — working hard, chemistry. We have to have something different than anybody else, because everybody is working. Everybody else has the same expectations when they start this thing off. Hopefully, we’ll have something different that will separate us from other people and help us win football games.” A&M had a mini X-factor last year going 9-4 and returns all the key skill players from an offense that averaged 441.8 yards and 31.2 points per game. The unit expects to be vastly improved because of keen competition in the offensive line, a plethora of wide receivers and one of the nation’s best 1-2 combinations at tailback. The offensive line returns four starters, but won’t start a senior if sophomore Shep Klinke gets the nod at right guard over Evan Eike. “Our offensive line has a lot to prove,” said Sherman, a former offensive line coach. “I thought we came on in the second half of the year. They’ve got to pick it up and be a lot better.” A&M allowed a league-high 37 sacks and was more prone to pass on third-and-2 instead of running. “We were young last year and allowed for some mistakes,” Sherman said. “That group has to collectively play a lot better.”

Friday, September 2, 2011

Aggieland primed as No. 8 A&M embarks on 2011 campaign

College Football 2011

Everything set for big year

Eagle file photo The Aggies celebrate their 9-6 victory over Nebraska last season at Kyle Field on Nov. 20, 2010. The victory was the fifth of a six-game winning streak that helped Texas A&M finish the regular season at 9-3 and earn a berth into the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

“Every team we play, they have good players, good coaches. Something has to make the difference, and it has to be our X-factor, whatever that is — working hard, chemistry. We have to have something different than anybody else, because everybody is working. Everybody else has the same expectations when they start this thing off.” Mike Sherman Texas A&M head football coach Four of the projected starters — sophomore tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, left guard Brian Thomas and Klinke — have each started only a year or

less. “We are really still young on the offensive line,” Sherman said. “I know a lot of people have said it’s a quiteexperienced group, but we

really don’t have a lot of career starts.” The receiving corps has 71 starts led by senior AllAmerica candidate Jeff Fuller, who returned for his senior season. Fuller capped a 72-catch season with seven catches for 72 yards in the Cotton Bowl against LSU’s Patrick Peterson who was a first-round NFL pick. Slot receiver Ryan Swope also had 72 catches. Uzoma Nwachukwu, Kenric McNeal and Brandal Jackson are other wide receivers who have started, but with A&M often using a five-wide formation, sophomore Nate Askew, redshirt freshman Malcome Kennedy and freshman Mike Evans are possibilities. “It would help us if we could rest players just a little

bit, particularly with the elements we’ll be dealing with this time of year,” said Sherman, who said fall camp injuries to key receivers hampered the offense’s progress. Senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a strong fall working on improving the progression of his reads during plays, even if he didn’t get to hone his timing with Fuller. “Ryan really only started six ball games as a quarterback,” Sherman said. “So, it’s not like he’s had a wealth of experience.” Tannehill, who helped spearhead A&M’s six-game winning streak to end the regular season, had a strong offseason and spearheaded vol-

See AGGIES, Page 6

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AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011

Continued from 5

untary workouts in the summer that made him much better, Sherman said. Tannehill’s job should be made easier by A&M’s most potent running game in more than decade with Cyrus Gray, who ended the season with seven straight 100-yard rushing games, picking up the slack for Christine Michael, who had a trio of 100-yard rushing games before breaking a leg. Both are back and talking about 1,000-yard seasons. “They’re so different type of runners that I think the defense will have to really know who is in the game because they both possess different things and have different strengths,” Sherman said. Stopping the run became a big strength for A&M last season. The Aggies were the best in the Big 12 against the run, allowing 130.2 yards per game. The defense overall was a big component in A&M’s three-win improvement last season. The Aggies jumped 50 spots in total defense to 55th (364.3 yards per game) and made an even bigger leap in scoring from 105th to 34th (21.9 points per game). “I believe you win championships with defense, there’s no question in my mind about that, even though I’m an offensive coach by nature,”

College Football 2011

AGGIES: A&M hoping defense can continue improvement

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Sherman said. A&M’s defense had Kyle Field rocking last year with chants of “Wrecking Crew” as the Aggies grabbed a 9-6 victory over Nebraska and used three goal-line stands to derail Oklahoma. The Aggies lost AllAmerican Von Miller at outside linebacker and Michael Hodges, the unit’s leading tackler and inspirational leader. But coordinator Tim DeRuyter returns for his second year, which is another reason for excitement. DeRuyter’s blitzing, aggressive style reminds Aggies of their defensive glory years. He has more depth, speed and experience at his disposal, which should lead to more big plays and move turnovers. “We talk about four Ps for takeaways — population or getting guys to the play; physicality; purpose; and plan, where they know beforehand about preparedness and playing fast,” DeRuyter said. “I think our guys are at the point now where they are reacting and playing fast. Our takeaways should dramatically go up. “Our goal last year was 30. We fell short last year, but last year we had 16 passes hit us in the hands that we dropped. That’s been a major emphasis for us. We will do some things to force throws where the quarterback doesn’t want to throw it, and some

things physically to maybe knock some balls loose.” Strong safety Trent Hunter smiles at what’s transpired. A&M gave up 461.9 yards per game in his freshman season, going 4-8 “We’re flying around and just having fun,” Hunter said. “We’re not as confused as we were last year. We’re just going out there and playing. I can honestly say that I have the utmost confidence in everyone on our defense at every position.” The area of concern on defense is the line, which graduated end Lucas Patterson. A&M signed Blinn’s LaMarc Strahan (6-4, 340) to help plug the middle, but he didn’t get into school. “I’m a little nervous about our depth at that position and across the inside guys,” Sherman said. “I wish we had a little more there.” Stephen Barrera, one of the team’s stronger players, missed last season with a hip injury and isn’t back to full strength. “I feel like we are down two guys there,” Sherman said. Depth isn’t a concern at punter, but quality is. The Aggies headed into this week with three players still battling to fix special teams’ biggest concern. A&M netted 34 yards per punt last year, which was 99th in the nation. The rest of the kicking unit is solid with a slew of lethal

TEXAS A&M AGGIES

• 2010 record: 9-4 (6-2 in Big 12 South, tied for first) • Offensive starters returning: 10 — QB Ryan Tannehill, 6-4, 219, sr. (152-of-234 passing for 1,638 yards, 13 TDs, 6 int. & 51-76, 1 TD rushing, HM A-Big 12); LT Luke Joeckel, 6-6, 304, soph. (HM A-Big 12); LG Brian Thomas, 6-3, 303, jr. (HM A-Big 12); C Patrick Lewis, 6-2, 303, jr. (HM A-Big 12); RT Jake Matthews, 6-5, 295, soph. (HM A-Big 12); RB Cyrus Gray, 5-10, 198, sr. (200-1,133, 5.7, 12 TDs & 34-251-1 TD receiving, HM A-Big 12); WR Jeff Fuller, 6-4, 215, sr. (72-1,066, 14.8, 12 TDs, A-Big 12); WR Ryan Swope, 6-0, 204, jr. (72-825, 11.5, 4 TDs, HM A-Big 12); TE Nehemiah Hicks, 6-4, 248, soph.; (11-141, 12.8); WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, 60, 194, jr. (36-407, 11.3, 4 TDs). • Defensive starters returning: 8 — T Eddie Brown, 6-0, 295, sr. (25 tackles, HM A-Big 12); ILB Garrick Williams, 6-2, 234, sr. (112 tackles, HM A-Big 12); DE Tony Jerod-Eddie, 6-5, 300, sr. (49 tackles, HM A-Big 12); CB Terrence Frederick, 5-10, 184, sr. (57 tackles, 8 TFL, 9 PBU, HM A-Big 12); SS Trent Hunter, 5-10, 190, sr. (62 tackles, HM A-Big 12); E Jonathan Mathis, 6-2, 285, sr. (41 tackles); OLB Sean Porter, 6-2, 220, jr. (74 tackles); CB Coryell Judie, 5-11, 188, jr. (57 tackles, 4 int., 2nd A-Big 12); SS Steven Campbell, 6-0, 202, soph. (32 tackles). • Specialists returning — P Ryan Epperson, 6-2, 191, jr. (37.6 on 41 kicks, HM A-Big 12); PK Randy Bullock, 5-9, 205, sr. (16-21 FGs, long 50, HM A-Big 12) • Key departures: C Matt Allen (2nd A-Big 12); LB Von Miller (A-Big 12, A-American); LB Michael Hodges (HM A-Big 12); DE Lucas Patterson (HM A-Big 12). • Team srtatistics last year: 31.2 ppg (5th in the Big 12/34th in the nation); 21.9 points allowed per game (4th/34th); 276.8 yards passing per game (5th/20th); 165.0 yards rushing per game (5th/46th); 130.2 yards rushing per game allowed (1st/30th); 441.8 yards offense per game (5th/23rd); 364.3 yards allowed per game (5th/55th). • Head coach: Mike Sherman (Central Connecticut State, 1977), 10-15 • Assistant coaches: Randy Jordan, running backs; Terrell Williams, defensive line; Troy Walters, wide receivers; Jim Turner, offensive line; Tom Rossley, senior assistant/quarterbacks; Nick Toth, outside linebackers; Dat Nguyen, inside linebackers; Tim DeRuyter, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator; Charles McMillian, defensive backs.

return men and coverage teams that improved last year along with a stronger Randy Bullock at place-kicker. Even with concerns at punter, defensive line and having to replace two linebackers, A&M is picked to battle Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. This year’s team has a tough act to follow. A&M last year became the first Big 12 team to beat Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas in the same season, finishing in a three-way tie for first in the Big 12 South. “That wasn’t a great season,” Sherman said. “It was a good season.” A&M failed to win all its home games and lost its fifth straight bowl and nine of the last 10, dropping a 41-24 game to LSU, which also was its sixth straight to a team from

the Southeastern Conference, which is expected soon to include the Aggies. The program is expected to take another step forward with Sherman’s most experienced and talented group. “It’s nice to have this type of attention put on our program,” Sherman said. “But you still gotta live up to those expectations. We have a lot of work to do to be at that level. Nothing’s going to be handed to us.” The team had a solid fall camp with Sherman only displeased with about two practices. He let them know it, and each time they responded. “This team is a lot more stable and a little more focused,” Sherman said. “Will probably will bear down harder on them because I don’t have to handle them with kid gloves.”

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College Football 2011 Friday, September 2, 2011 AggieSports.com

Eagle file photo Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) decided to return to Aggieland for his senior season rather than enter the NFL draft.

Wanting more A&M’s record-setting wideout Fuller still trying to improve DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

A

quick peek at the Texas A&M record books suggests that senior Jeff Fuller is the best wide receiver to don the maroon and white. He owns the records for single-season yards, recepFULLER tions and touchdown catches. He sits alone for career touchdown

receptions. He’s well on his way to owning the No. 1 spot in career catches and yards. Yet he’s still eager to improve, yearning to go down in Aggie lore as A&M’s top receiver of all-time. “The most impressive thing is the improvement he’s made from his first year to right now,” coach Mike Sherman said. “I think his willingness to continue to work on his craft and try to be best he can be is the single most impressive thing that I’ve noticed with him. He constantly tries

See FULLER, Page 9

Visit us online at www.theeagle.com

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AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011 College Football 2011

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Co-captains expected to take reins Aggies need Tannehill, Hunter to be strong leaders By ROBERT CESSNA robert.cessna@theeagle.com

Some players are born to lead, while others grow into the role. Texas A&M free safety Trent Hunter has been in the spotlight since making 17 tackles against Army in his first collegiate start. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had to become one of the Big 12’s best receivers before settling in under center. The seniors, elected co-captains by their TANNEHILL teammates, will have a huge say in whether A&M lives up to its lofty preseason No. 8 ranking. Last year, the Aggies had a team HUNTER leader in flamboyant AllAmerican Von Miller, the sack-happy outside linebacker who Aggies loved to cheer for. But Miller always said he followed inside linebacker Michael Hodges, the defense’s true heart-and-soul. Miller’s words proved true in the Cotton Bowl as LSU rolled to a 41-24 victory after A&M lost Hodges to an injury while leading 10-0. “The difference in [2009] and last year’s team was leadership out of our seniors, particularly Michael Hodges,” defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. “And we’ve challenged our seniors this year, and Trent’s really stepped up in that regard. He’s taken that leadership role, and I think the way he leads our defense is going to be indicative of how well we play this year.”

Eagle file photo Senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is expected to lead the Aggie offense this season after settling into the starting role midway through last season. That certainly seems true for the offense and Tannehill, a catalyst for last year’s lateseason surge. Tannehill took over for a struggling Jerrod Johnson and provided a lightning bolt of energy for the offense as the Aggies built a six-game winning streak that got them to the Cotton Bowl. Tannehill was 127-of-195 passing for 1,409 yards and 11 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Before that he had been 8 of 13 for 93 yards as he waited for his time behind first Stephen McGee then Johnson. “Ryan thought he was the best one, and he was our third quarterback at the time, but he thought he was the best one,” Sherman said. “He never wavered in his confidence and his ability to do the job.” Tannehill contributed as a freshman and sophomore by catching 101 passes for 1,453

yards and nine touchdowns. But when he started his first game at quarterback, he was ready, throwing for 449 yards and four touchdowns against Texas Tech, a team he grew up rooting for. Tannehill, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in May, has been the offense’s leader since. “He’s come a long way,” junior wide receiver Ryan Swope said. “He’s done so many great things for this university, and he’s a great student. This summer he had all of us up here. He was texting everyone to go up and throw with him, lift with him, run with him. He’s the guy staying on top of everyone and showing senior leadership. He’s done a great job. He’s always working on trying to get our tempo going. He’s been a great vocal leader

See LEADERS, Page 10

Eagle file photo Teammates celebrate with Texas A&M safety Trent Hunter (1) after his thirdquarter interception against Nebraska last season.


GRADES THE AGGIES QUARTERBACKS: B+ (A-)

RUNNING BACKS: A- (B)

There’s no sure thing, but tailbacks Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael come close. Both are averaging 5.2 yards per carry in their careers, rushing for 3,784 yards combined even though the Aggies haven’t had an offensive lineman earn first-team all-conference honors during their tenure. Gray and Michael should each average 15-20 touches per game, which could account for half of what’s expected to be a potent offense. Injuries, however, are a concern. Michael missed the last six games in 2010 with a broken leg, and Gray missed part of training camp with a pulled hamstring. Sophomore Ben Malena nailed down the backup spot behind Gray and Michael, but Aggies are hopeful it will be for mop-up duty.

OFFENSIVE LINE: C+ (C-)

A&M had the same five linemen on the first team throughout training camp. That stability should lead to fewer sacks (37 allowed

RECEIVING CORPS: A- (A-)

There’s talent and experience on this unit, but health is a concern. Senior Jeff Fuller has All-America aspirations after passing on the NFL draft, but he missed the majority of training camp with a tweaked hamstring. Sophomore Nate Askew had a solid training camp, but he’s no Fuller. Uzoma Nwachukwu is solidly entrenched at the starting wideout spot opposite Fuller, and he’s primed to put a disappointing sophomore season behind him. He had a solid training camp after playing last season with a foot injury. Speedy, sure-handed Ryan Swope blossomed as an inside receiver last season, but fellow junior inside guys Kenric McNeal and Brandal Jackson missed practice time this August, creating too many makeshift fivereceiver sets. Redshirt freshman Malcome Kennedy, overwhelmed last season, now looks like a budding star. Redshirt freshman Hutson Prioleau, Michael Lamothe and Nehemiah Hicks all return at tight end, but it’s time for one or two of them to turn potential into results.

DEFENSIVE LINE: C (C)

Tony Jerod-Eddie is poised to be an all-conference player for a unit that’s deep and experienced but in need of playmakers. A&M will be able to keep players fresh on this unit. Ben Bass, Eddie Brown Jr., Jonathan Mathis

and Spencer Nealy combined for 93 tackles last year, and sophomore Kirby Ennis is a solid addition coming off a redshirt season. Ennis won the starting tackle spot in spring, but Brown closed the gap in training camp. A&M was the best in the league against the run, but that’s hard to gauge since the Big 12 leans on passing and finesse.

LINEBACKERS: C+ (B)

You don’t replace players like All-American Von Miller, but A&M expects a better defense because of experience and depth, and that is especially the case at linebacker — at least in depth. Junior Caleb Russell beat out sophomore Damontre Moore to replace Miller at one outside spot in the 3-4 alignment. That doesn’t mean both won’t play together, but Sherman said several times that junior outside linebacker Sean Porter is set for a banner season at the other starting outside spot. Junior Jonathan Stewart had a good camp to nail down a starting inside linebacking spot, and at the other spot, senior Garrick Williams, who was second on the team in tackles last year, fought off challenges from freshman Donnie Baggs and junior Kyle Mangan. Freshman Tyrell Taylor was one of training camp’s biggest surprises, earning a backup spot behind Porter. Experience is a concern. Porter and Williams have a combined 42 starts, but the others have only 17.

SECONDARY: B+ (C)

This unit has seen the best and worst over the past seven months. Four key performers — cornerbacks Terrence Frederick, Lionel Smith and Coryell Judie and strong safety Steven Campbell — missed spring practice. The secondary blossomed in training camp with those players back along with newcomers redshirt freshman Clay Honeycutt and true freshman Howard Matthews playing well enough to get playing time. The group is led by senior free safety Trent Hunter, who has a team-leading 34 starts.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C- (D+)

Senior place-kicker Randy Bullock dis-

played consistency and a strong leg in training camp. He still has to prove he can hit a 35-yarder with the game on the line. A&M’s punting game remains iffy with a hamstring injury to highly touted freshman Drew Kaser not helping. Bad snaps in practice remain a concern. Quality depth at linebacker and the secondary along with Bullock or freshman place-kicker Taylor Bertlot should help A&M improve kickoff coverage in which A&M ranked 63rd nationally last season. Returning kicks is a strength with three players on the roster having taken back kicks for touchdowns (Gray and Judy have two kickoff return TDs each and Harris a punt return TD).

COACHING: A- (B)

Sherman has efficiently put together a team capable of competing for a national championship. He was shrewd enough to add recruits such as Frederick, Fuller, Gray and Hunter to his first signing class. Those players have combined for 119 starts, and beyond their play, their leadership has helped the program move forward. Not everything Sherman touches turns to gold. Another of his signees in 2008 was linebacker Ricky Cavanaugh, who is no longer with the team. He also had to revamp his staff, going through Reggie Herring and Joe Kines as defensive coordinators before landing Tim DeRuyter. A&M is poised to strike gold, because Sherman has shown a knack for moving on in areas where things don’t pan out.

AggieSports.com

Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill helped salvage the 2010 season, taking over for a struggling Jerrod Johnson. Tannehill became an instant folk hero leading the team to victories over Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas, but three interceptions in a 41-24 Cotton Bowl loss to LSU is a reminder he’s started only six games at quarterback. If the former wide receiver has a future as an NFL quarterback, something A&M head coach Mike Sherman says he has, the Aggies should win at least 10 games in 2011. If Tannehill struggles, it would be asking too much for one of the redshirt freshmen, Jameill Showers or Matt Joeckel, to duplicate what Tannehill did last year.

for 104th nationally last season) and the ability to consistently be successful in shortyardage situations. The luxury A&M has for the first time in years is that if one or two players struggle, the backups are talented enough to play. During last season, the line seemed to jell after guard Evan Eike, the unit’s most experienced player, went down with a season-ending injury. Eike is back in the mix, but the senior right guard is running even with sophomore Shep Klinke, who had a solid effort during spring practice. Tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews have all-conference potential, but they’re only sophomores. There’s a chance A&M might not start a senior, so there could be growing pains.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Here are Robert Cessna’s preseason grades for the Aggies (last year’s preseason grades in parenthesis):

College Football 2011

ROBERT CESSNA

OVERALL: B+ (B-)

Excitement for Aggies is at an all-time high. A&M set a record for season-ticket sales, which means Kyle Field will be rocking seven times in 2011. This team has the ability to score 50 points a game, but it also has a defense good enough that Wrecking Crew towels are again in demand. There’s also the off-the-field excitement of A&M headed to the Southeastern Conference. All indications point toward a 10-win season and a berth in a major bowl game, one the Aggies need to win. It’s time to produce like an SEC team.

FULLER: Aggie spent time learning from Cardinals’ Fitzgerald Continued from 7

to get better.” Following the Cotton Bowl loss to LSU, Fuller had a decision to make. One of Sherman’s first recruits, he could finish off what he started and return as a senior. Or he could bypass his final season in Aggieland and elect to enter the NFL draft. For days, he went back and forth. But ultimately, the draw of competing for a national championship brought him back.

“I feel good about my decision,” he said. “I got a lot of work in. I get to finish something we have built together as a unit. I get to graduate as well. I can’t ask for anything more.” In 2010, Fuller caught 72 balls for 1,066 yards and 12 touchdowns. He sought out one of the NFL’s best players for guidance. In enlisting the help of Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Fuller learned a valuable lesson. “I learned tons of things,”

he said. “He’s extremely competitive, tries to beat me into the ground running and conditions wise. A great role model, great person. One of the things he said is ‘there is no substitute for work,’ which I think is incredibly true. The way he goes out and works every single day and makes the people around him better as well.” Quarterback Ryan Tannehill can attest that Fuller makes his job easier. Having a 6-foot-4 safety valve

flanked out wide made the adjustment process for the second-year starter seamless. “Jeff’s an all-around guy,” Tannehill said. “He can get open underneath, run a quick slant, or beat a guy deep. He has strong hands and can go up and get the ball. I think he’s an all-around receiver who can really do anything you ask him to. I think his best asset is his hands. He can catch the ball away from his body in tough positions.” Fuller battled a tweaked

hamstring during fall camp. However, prior to the injury, he was undoubtedly the best player on the field. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who studies the best playmakers in the Big 12 on film, said Fuller stands out above the rest — and that helps his secondary. “They know that if we can limit him,” DeRuyter said. “It’s not going to get any tougher from a matchup standpoint. I think he’s as good as anyone.”

9


College Football 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

AggieSports.com

Texas A&M depth chart No. Name 8 Jeff Fuller 4 Brandal Jackson 71 51

Brian Thomas Jarvis Harrison

76 70

Luke Joeckel Cedric Ogbuehi

75 62

Jake Matthews Jeffrey Hyde

77 65

Shep Klinke Evan Eike

61 74

Patrick Lewis Danny Baker

80 21 87

Hutson Prioleau Michael Lamothe Nehemiah Hicks

7 9

Uzoma Nwachukwu Nate Askew

25 5 84

Ryan Swope Kenric McNeal Malcome Kennedy

17 3 16 15

Ryan Tannehill Jameill Showers Matt Joeckel Johnny Manziel

32 33 23

Cyrus Gray Christine Michael Ben Malena

OFFENSE Wide receiver Height Weight 6-4 220 6-1 190 Left guard 6-3 315 6-3 317 Left tackle 6-6 310 6-5 292 Right tackle 6-5 305 6-5 311 Right guard 6-7 305 6-4 305 Center 6-2 306 6-5 300 Tight end 6-4 251 6-3 232 6-4 249 Wide receiver 6-0 194 6-4 220 Wide receiver 6-0 206 6-1 184 6-0 196 Quarterback 6-4 222 6-1 219 6-4 234 6-1 200 Tailback 5-10 200 5-11 213 5-10 189

Class senior junior junior freshman sophomore freshman sophomore junior sophomore senior

No. 92 90 72 39 42 83 99 47 94

junior senior

11 9 45

sophomore junior sophomore

8 18 36

junior sophomore

10 35

junior junior freshman senior freshman freshman freshman senior junior sophomore

7 3 5 22 1 21 2 25 31

DEFENSE End Name Height Weight Jonathan Mathis 6-2 293 Ben Bass 6-5 295 Gavin Stansbury 6-4 265 Tackle Eddie Brown Jr. 6-0 310 Kirby Ennis 6-4 286 End Tony Jerod-Eddie 6-5 301 Spencer Nealy 6-5 277 Outside linebacker Caleb Russell 6-2 238 Damontre Moore 6-4 245 Inside linebacker Jonathan Stewart 6-4 237 Charlie Thomas 6-1 220 Steven Jenkins 6-2 220 Inside linebacker Garrick Williams 6-2 232 Kyle Mangan 6-2 226 Donnie Baggs 6-1 225 Outside linebacker Sean Porter 6-2 230 Tyrell Taylor 6-4 205 Cornerback Terrence Frederick 5-10 187 Lionel Smith 6-0 193 Cornerback Coryell Judie 5-11 190 Dustin Harris 6-0 175 Free safety Trent Hunter 5-10 192 Steven Terrell 5-10 193 Strong safety Steven Campbell 6-0 201 Clay Honeycutt 6-2 200 Howard Matthews 6-2 206

Class senior senior freshman senior sophomore senior junior junior sophomore junior sophomore junior senior junior freshman junior freshman senior senior senior junior senior junior sophomore freshman freshman

SPECIALISTS No. Name 28 Randy Bullock 48 38 26

Ryan Epperson Drew Kaser Ken Wood

22

Harris

Place-kicker Weight 212 Punter 6-2 191 6-3 220 5-10 191 Punt returner 6-0 175

Height 5-9

Class senior junior freshman senior junior

Kick returner Height Weight 5-11 188 6-0 201 Deep snapper Ben Bredthauer 6-4 250 Holder Tannehill 6-4 219

No. Name 5 Judie 2 Campbell

Class senior junior

95

junior

17

senior

LEADERS: A&M coach wants Tannehill to be smart facilitator Continued from 8

10

on field.” By all accounts, Tannehill also puts in his time in the video room and is a serious student of the game. Sherman, a former NFL offensive coordinator, expects that of his quarterbacks. “Sometimes the quarter-

back does not have to play great for you to win, but he better play smart for you to win,” Sherman said. “Our quarterback has to play smart. The quarterback makes more decisions than anyone on the field, including the coaches. He has to be right on the money on his decision making. That is a

major component to our success as a team. A turnover can be devastating.” Tannehill has said that with all the good skill players on A&M’s offense, he just needs to orchestrate. He doesn’t need to force the action or try to take over himself. “He’s a different leader than Johnson, but I think

players recognize in him a tenacity, a competitive spirit, a toughness about him,” Sherman said. “I think they have respect for his abilities.” It’s that competitiveness that Sherman likes the most. “He’s a perfectionist in his own way,” Sherman said. “I’m kind of hard on him, and he’s hard on himself. I have to

be careful with him, because he’s very critical of himself, of what he did and didn’t do.” Tannehill’s desire to win is contagious. Hunter got the best in a paintball fight over the summer. Hunter nailed Tannehill about five times in the event the two organized for their teammates.


By DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

F

rom the sideline, he could hear Christine Michael’s pain. He could see the agony on his face. “I heard him scream,” Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray said, “and I saw him throw his hel- GRAY met off.” The tears welled up in Gray’s eyes. But he stopped them.

He had a job to do. “I almost started crying right then and there,” he said. “But I knew what I needed to do to help the team out in any possible way.” His backfield mate, Michael, was out for the rest of the 2010 season. That much was apparent the moment the team’s leading rusher’s right tibia snapped during a Halloween victory over rival Texas Tech. For Gray, it was his chance to be the No. 1 guy, the primary back for a team fighting to keep its season afloat. What followed was a string

See GRAY, Page 15

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On the Upcoming Season!

Gray issue A&M running back took opportunity and ran with it

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eagle file photo Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray runs for the game-winning touchdown against Florida International last September.

College Football 2011

GOOD LUCK AGGIES

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AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011 College Football 2011

A&M still needs starting punter Kicker Bullock appears ready to go By DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

Late in the 2010 season, Ryan Tannehill lined up behind the center, but it wasn’t to quarterback the offense. He had to punt. It was a painstaking reminder that the Texas A&M punting situation was in turmoil. As this season gets under way, things still aren’t settled. Ken Wood, Ryan Epperson and freshman Drew Kaser have battled throughout training camp to establish some order to a position that was a revolving door for the majority of the 2010 campaign. To no avail, though. “I think the consistency is something we’re lacking,” A&M head coach Mike Sherman said. “Being able to do it day in and day out. I don’t think I’m 100 percent confident.” Kaser was expected to come in and seize the position from day one. However, a tweaked hamstring early in fall camp derailed that train. As a result, Epperson looks to have the edge going into week one. “Ryan has done a good job lately,” Sherman said. It’s the one position that is a

relative unknown on a special teams unit that is seemingly stout throughout. Kick returner Coryell Judie ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns in consecutive weeks in 2010. He goes into his senior season expected to be one of the country’s biggest game-changers back deep. Kicker Randy Bullock shook off an early bout with mononucleosis to put together a consistent 2010. His three field goals against Nebraska were the difference between victory and defeat. He’s gained confidence and has been able to improve through camp. “I’m not playing catch up,” he said. “I came in healthy and I’m ready to go. Every day I’m out at practice, I’ve been trying to treat it like a game.” Sherman said Bullock has been outstanding — a result of the competition between he and freshman Taylor Bertolet. “Randy has had a phenomenal camp,” he said. “It’s been a great testimony to what competition does. We brought in Bertolet, and Randy has really risen to the challenge. I’m really proud of him.” Punt returner Dustin Harris is arguably the fastest

Eagle file photo Texas A&M senior Randy Bullock (center) is being counted on to hold down the starting place-kicker position after hitting 16 of 21 field goals last season. player on the team. His explosiveness back deep returning punts will have opposing teams wary of giving him space. “He’s very explosive on punt returns,” Sherman said. “He’s just a lot more confident and secure in that area. He’s probably as fast as anybody on our team, as explosive as anybody.” Harris, who is expected to see time at both cornerback and wide receiver, also provides sure hands at a position that had been a problem for

Aggie teams throughout the decade. “He has arguably the best hands on our team,” defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. Because of those factors — the explosiveness, the experience — special teams coach Randy Jordan said they will undoubtedly excel on that side of the ball. “We’re going to be good on special teams,” Jordan said. “We were good. We’re looking to be the best. We’re going to be good, we’re going to play

fast.” Yet still, the net punt average of 34 yards in 2010 is troublesome. The lack of a surefire punter for 2011 is more troublesome. Whether it’s Kaser, Wood or Epperson kicking, Aggies should be hopeful that the team doesn’t have to resort to using the starting quarterback. “I think we’re going to be better at that position this year than last year,” Sherman said. “But I still worry about it because it’s not proven.”

A&M’s Williams happy to be back at same spot By DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

12

Continuity can often be overlooked. For Texas A&M linebacker Garrick Williams, it’s impossible to ignore. “I feel very comfortable,” Williams said. “It’s the first time since being here that I’m playing the same position two years in a row.” Williams’ career in Aggieland has included stints at wide receiver, defensive back, outside linebacker and now inside linebacker. It’s been a whirlwind ride for a player whose athleticism is

indisputable. But it hasn’t been a ride conducive to consistency. “You’re talking about a guy who had played wide receiver at one time, was moved to defensive back, then to linebacker,” head coach Mike Sherman said. Finally in 2010, he found his niche. When defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter arrived and implemented his 3-4 defense, the stout, hyperathletic Williams was a nobrainer to fill one of the allimportant inside linebacker positions. Though there were some growing pains, he flour-

ished through the latter portion of the season. His stirring play coincided with the revival of the long-lost Wrecking Crew. “I think he’s made a significant amount of progress in the last year, which we WILLIAMS needed him to do.” Sherman said. Williams finished 2010 second on the team with 112 tackles. But, for the majority of

the season, he took direction from his fellow inside backer Michael Hodges. That all changed for good the minute Hodges went down with a season-ending knee injury in the Cotton Bowl. “When I saw Hodges go down, I started crying because that wasn’t just our captain, but that was my brother,” Williams said. “He helped me out with everything on the field. It was just a time where I thought to myself that I had to step up.” In the 3-4, the inside linebacker makes the calls. He is the leader of the defense. He

must be able to make the reads, react and make plays from sideline to sideline. He also must be cognizant of everything going on around him — something he learned from Hodges, who has since graduated. “Hodges Just took charge and he taught me to take those extra steps to learn the game,” Williams said. “Not only what I’m doing but what my teammates are doing on every single play.” Because of this, Williams has gained a necessary affini-

See WILLIAMS, Page 15


College Football 2011 Friday, September 2, 2011 AggieSports.com Eagle file photo Texas A&M’s Coryell Judie returns a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter against Baylor last year in Waco.

Judie doesn’t talk but his play speaks loudly By RICHARD CROOME richard.croome@theeagle.com

Texas A&M’s Coryell Judie is so quiet, he politely turned down being interviewed for a feature story. It’s a unique trait for a player who at cornerback has to exude confidence, if not a little cockiness. It’s a trait, though, that’s held true to form since long before he was considered one of the best college players at

his position. “That’s Coryell,” said his high school coach Jerry Malone, when told Judie passed on being interviewed. JUDIE “You know he was one of the greatest kids that came through Marlin and that was because he didn’t run his mouth like some of

those other kids we had as athletes. “No doubt about it, he’s always been a real, real quiet kid, one of those kids that had been brought up right, no sir, yes sir, or no ma’am, yes ma’am. He was that type of kid.” Judie is still that type of kid, although at nearly 22 years of age, kid no longer describes him best. “I could have told you that,” A&M coach corner-

backs coach Charles McMillian said when told Judie declined talking to the media. “He won’t talk.” That’s not entirely true. He has opened up to his teammates, especially those in the secondary, and McMillian. “It’s taken him two years to actually talk to me and answer questions with answers,” McMillian said. “It’s one of those things where he’s going to have a smile on his face, he’s going

to do what you ask him to do. It’s more he’ll talk to you when he gets comfortable with you but also when he’s comfortable with what is being talked about.” Judie is at ease on the field and has been since being an all-district performer as a receiver and cornerback in his one season of football at Marlin High School. Still, not much is said as he

See JUDIE, Page 15

13


By ROBERT CESSNA robert.cessna@theeagle.com

Oklahoma’s Landry Jones is displaying the kind of leadership and character so many people admired in Dallas Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry for whom the Sooners’ quarterback was named. The Sooners are ranked No. 1 in the country and Jones is a big reason. Last season, he passed for 4,716 yards with 38 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions for 12-2 OU. “I’ve grown so much as a

AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011 College Football 2011

14

OU QB Jones taking charge leader,” Jones said. “Last year, I stepped into the offseason knowing that this is my team and I played well, now this year knowing that again this is my team, that just gave me even more JONES confidence stepping into the offseason.” Jones was brilliant in help-

See OKLAHOMA, Page 16

OKLAHOMA SOONERS

• 2010 record: 12-2 (6-2 in Big 12 South, tied for first) • 2010 results: S4 Utah State, 31-24; S11 Florida St., 47-17; S18 Air Force, 27-24; S25 at Cincinnati, 31-29; O2 vs. Texas, 28-20; O16 Iowa St., 52-0; O23 at Missouri, 27-36; O30 Colorado, 43-10; N6 at Texas A&M, 19-33; N13 Texas Tech, 45-7; N20 at Baylor, 5324; N27 at Oklahoma St., 47-41; Nebraska, 23-20; UConn, 48-20. • 2011 schedule: S3 Tulsa; S17 at Florida St.; S24 Missouri; O1 Ball State; O8 vs. Texas in Dallas; O15 at Kansas; O22 Texas Tech; O29 at Kansas State; N5 Texas A&M; N19 at Baylor; O26 Iowa St.; D3 at Oklahoma St. • Offensive starters returning: 10 — WR Ryan Broyles, 5-10, 188, sr. (131-1,622, 14 TDs, A-Big 12); OL Stephen Good, 6-6, 305, jr.; OL Ben Habern, 6-4, 292, jr.; QB Landry Jones, 6-4, 229, jr. (405 of 617 for 4,718 yards, 38 TDs, 12 int., HM A-Big 12); WR Dejuan Miller, 6-4, 217, sr. (15-199, 0 TDs); LT Donald Stephenson, 6-6, 307, sr.; FB Trey Millard, 6-1, 249, soph., 2n ABig 12); RG Tyler Evans, 6-5, 304, jr.; TE James Hanna, 6-4, 243, jr. (18-292, 7 TDs); WR Kenny Stills, 6-1, 189, soph. (61-786, 5 TDs, HM A-Big 12). • Defensive starters returning: 6 — E Frank Alexander, 6-4, 255, sr. (39 tackles 13 TFL); DB Sam Proctor, 6-0, 222, ar. (17 tackles); LB Travis Lewis, 6-2, 227, sr. (109 tackles, 2nd A-Big 12); LB Tony Jefferson, 5-10, 199, soph. (65 tackles, 7 TFL); LB Tom Wort, 6-2, 229, soph. (71 tackles, 8.5 TFL); CB Demontre Hurst, 5-10, 181, jr. (50 tackles). • Special teams returning: PK Jimmy Stevens, 5-5, 172, sr. (11-13 FGs); P Tress Way, 6-1, 218, jr. (43.0 avg. on 39 kicks, HM A-Big 12). • Key departures: RB DeMarco Murray (282-1,214, 15 TDs, A-Big 12); OL Cory Brandon; DB Quinton Carter (96 tackles, 4 int., ABig 12); E Jeremy Beal (72 tackles, 19.5 TFL, A-Big 12); DT Adrian Taylor (12 tackles); OL Eric Mensik (A-Big 12); LB Jonathan Nelson (109 tackles, HM A-Big 12); DB Jamell Fleming (71 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 14 PBU, HM A-Big 12). • Team statistics last year: 37.2 ppg (2nd in the Big 12, 14th in the nation); 21.8 points allowed per game (3rd/33th); 343.4 yards passing per game (2nd/3rd); 212.9 yards passing per game allowed (4th/51st); 138.0 yards rushing per game (10th/83rd); 148.9 yards rushing per game allowed (5th/58th); 481.4 yards offense per game (2nd/10th); 361.9 yards allowed per game (4th/53rd). • Head coach: Bob Stoops (Iowa, 1983), 129-31 (.806) in 12 years at OU. • Assistant coaches: Brent Venables, associate head coach/defensive coordinator/linebackers; Cale Gundy, recruiting coordinator/running backs; Bruce Kittle, tight ends/offensive tackles; Jay Norvell, co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers; Willie Martinez, defensive backs; Jackie Shipp, defensive line; Bobby Jack Wright, assistant head coach/asst. def. coordinator/defensive ends; James Patton, offensive line; Josh Heupel, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks.

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Continued from 11

Texas A&M’s Cyrus Gray scores a touchdown against Baylor in Waco on Nov. 13, 2010. Gray rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns in the Aggies’ 42-30 victory over the Bears. Eagle file photo

game-changer. “He’s always wanted to be great, but he had a breakout year last year,” Jordan said. “But that was last year and he’s got to prove it again this year.” In October, Michael went down. It was a poignant

moment for both players. Together, they form one of the country’s best tandems. Together, they also form a special bond. “He’s an all-around player, an all-around guy, on and off the field,” Michael said. “He just does things right.”

AggieSports.com

and his relentless work ethic off the field. He’s the consummate teammate, a truly selfless player who wants to do what’s best for his team. “I’m trying to do whatever it takes to help this team win,” he said. But on the field, he is a

Friday, September 2, 2011

of rushing performances unseen in Aggieland since the early 1990s. Gray reeled off seven consecutive 100yard games and was an intricate, irreplaceable piece on a team that won six-straight games and earned a share of the Big 12 south crown. “My role changed and what I had to do to help the team out,” Gray said. “Through that run, my confidence was high.” Now going into 2011, Michael is healthy. His leg is healed. By all accounts, he is stronger and faster than he was before the injury. What it means is that the Aggies have possibly the best 1-2 running back punch in the entire country. “The sky’s the limit,” Gray said. “By the end of the year, we can be that good.” But it also means that there will be less carries for Gray, a guy who gets better as the game goes on. “I’ve always been that type of guy,” he said. “The more I

get hit, the more I see the defense, I get better and better.” From the moment Michael went down, Gray averaged 24.4 carries a game. He averaged 143.8 yards a game. He scored seven touchdowns. “He’s a guy who if you really watch him, like any good back, most of his big carries came around between his 14th and 20th carries,” A&M running backs coach Randy Jordan said. “He got better as the game went, on, got more comfortable.” But the situation is different. Michael is a playmaker in his own right, the kind of player who is tough to stop once he gets going downhill. Gray, on the other hand, is the kind of player who makes defenders miss, a guy who consistently makes something out of nothing. Each game, each situation will be different. In the end, the best player will get the most touches. “I’m going to play the best player,” Jordan said. Gray’s teammates point to his unmatched leadership

College Football 2011

GRAY: Aggie back rushed for 100 yards in seven straight games

JUDIE: Cornerback’s tough play helped him get noticed early Continued from 13

locks down on receivers or scoots past special team players like they are standing still. Instead, he has found a different way to express himself. “He doesn’t trash talk. The one thing that he does is he talks with his pads,” McMillian said. “He will knock you around as far as taking on blocks, throw you out of the way. He doesn’t open his mouth much, he just plays football.” Judie is not big as football players go – he stands 5-foot11 and weighs 190 pounds – but playing physical has always been a trademark. At Marlin he may have topped out at 170 pounds.

“The most physical player that ever came through Marlin, even with his size,” said Malone, who now coaches at Chilton High School. “The kids that had to go against him, they knew he was going to knock the fire out of them, and he could cover as good as anybody in Class 2A, 3A football.” With Malone’s help, Judie found his way to Fort Scott (Kansas) where he was selected Junior College AllAmerican at cornerback. His freshman season he had six interceptions and averaged 26.1 yards per kickoff return and 15.1 yards per punt return. It was his physical play, not his numbers, that quickly caught on when he arrived at

Texas A&M in the fall of 2009. “When he first got here we did one-on-ones and he was a great jammer right off the line,” said senior Terrence Frederick, who has started at cornerback since the middle of his freshman season. Frederick and Judie continue to man the corners for Tim DeRuyter’s defense, but it is the work they’ve done together while rehabbing injured shoulders that has afforded them time to get to know each other better. “We definitely became closer friends since Coryell and I have been through these shoulder things,” said Frederick. “We kind of push each other in that area too.” Judie had work done on both shoulders after the sea-

son but it didn’t stop him from showing his versatility in the 2011 Cotton Bowl, where he had an interception and a 69-yard kickoff return to open the game. He has yet to fully recover from the surgeries, having had to sit out a few workouts with ice strapped atop his left shoulder. When he has played in scrimmages he’s worn a black jersey, much like the quarterbacks do, so as to stay away from contact. As a junior, Judie tied for the team lead in interceptions with four and had 57 tackles. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, one for 100 yards against Oklahoma and another for 84 yards against Baylor. His average of 30.3 yards a

return was sixth in the nation. Judie played a good percentage of last season with the injured shoulders, which makes some of his accomplishments even more incredible. “I go back to the interception at LSU because he has two shoulder harnesses on and he really can’t lift his hands above his head and so the interception that he picked with one hand, that was like ‘Wow, you know the kid has talent,’” said McMillian. That and another interception against Oklahoma, when he went up above the receiver for the ball, are two plays still being talked about. Just not by Judie.

WILLIAMS: A&M’s Williams has latched on to the playbook Continued from 12

ty for the film room and for the playbook. “Hodges always said ‘you’ve got to be the one to make the calls, to make the checks. You’ve got to be dedicated to your playbook,’”

Williams said. “I’ve done that. I think I’ve taken the next step this offseason.” As he preps for his senior season, Williams hearkens back on, not only what he learned from Hodges but what he learned from highschool and college teammate

Von Miller. “Von helped me to take everything one day at a time and one practice at a time,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve been doing.” For the first time in his career, he’s comfortable where he is.

“This being my second year back and knowing the defense,” he said, “I’m able to play faster and be more reactive.” Though Miller told him to take things one day at a time, this newfound continuity has Williams thinking big — very

big. “I just want to go out there and be the best linebacker in the Big 12,” he said. “I know that’s high expectations, but that’s what I love doing and I think I can get that done.”

15


AggieSports.com

OKLAHOMA: Jones produced at end of 2010

College Football 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Continued from 14

16

ing OU win its last five games last season. He had five touchdowns in a 45-7 romp over Texas Tech. He threw for 325 yards and three scores in a 5324 victory over Baylor, but his last three games were even better against quality opponents. Jones passed for 468 yards, tying the school record set by Sam Bradford in a 47-41 victory at rival Oklahoma State. Then Jones passed for 342 yards in a 23-20 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game. He capped his sophomore season with a school-bowl record 492 yards passing in a 48-20 blowout of Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl. “He had some really big games down the stretch,� OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “Then you add the winter, how hard he works that everybody recognizes. Now just that experience [and] his confidence. He’s become a really strong leader. And now he’s more comfortable.� Jones caught fire after OU was held to its season low for points in a 33-19 loss at Texas A&M. Jones said experiencing lows and highs have made him better and Stoops agrees. “If he hadn’t played and earned that respect by performance and meeting challenges, then it’s hard to be that guy,� Stoops said. “Well, he has all that now. He’s a true, true leader on this team and a special one.� Jones has grown into his role. “I like to pull people aside and let them know what I think about it,� Jones said. “I’m more of a leader by example. I know one thing I need to work on is being more vocal and I’ve grown in that area.� All-American Ryan Broyles, who was Jones’ favorite target last year with 131 catches for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns, says Jones is not the same guy forced into playing when Bradford was injured in 2009. “He was shy at first,� Broyles said. “He was our play-caller, but he was kinda timid. He didn’t like the attention.� That’s slightly changed. Jones displayed an easy-going manner as 15-20 writers gathered around him at the Big 12

Media Days, but he seemed at easy talking about the Heisman Trophy or his faith. “That’s one of the biggest things that’s influenced me — is the way he follows the Lord Jesus Christ,â€? Broyles said. “I’m so happy to say my quarterback is a believer. And I think that trinkles down in the way he produces on the field. He’s a great role model. He never says anything negative. But at the same time, he’ll shoot you straight. And he’ll let you know if you’re not doing right.â€? Jones didn’t say much when he was pressed into action when Bradford, coming off his Heisman season, hurt his shoulder in the 2009 opener against Brigham Young. Jones started 10 games that season, passing for 3,198 yards. He had 26 TDs, but threw 14 interceptions as OU had maybe its worst offensive line in Stoops’ 12 years. The Sooners, a preseason No. 1 pick, ended 8-5. “I’m definitely glad I went through it,â€? Jones said. “That was a tough year. We didn’t play as well as we were meant to play. But thankfully, I learned a lot.â€? Jones surprised some this summer while working at the Manning Passing Academy when he’d love to win the Heisman. "Absolutely, it’s a personal goal of mine,â€? Jones said. “But the No. 1 one thing is if I win the Heisman Trophy, but lose the national championship, I’d rather win the national championship and lose the Heisman Trophy. My ultimate goal is winning a national championship. If I win the Heisman Trophy, great, that’s kinda like a topping of the cake.â€? Jones also wants to do something special this season for former linebacker Austin Box, who died in May. “We wore the same number [12],â€? Jones said. “I’ve been talking to his parents about doing something to honor him.â€? • NOTES — Jones got engaged in the summer to OU basketball player Whitney Hand. The two, who dated for two and half years, announced their engagement via a social media outlet.

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OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

what to expect going into the first game.” Blackmon expects to have a fair number of footballs thrown his way, but only if he’s open. Weeden refuses to

throw into coverage, even knowing Blackmon might be the country’s best receiver. “I’d be a moron if I did that,” Weeden said. “I’ve got too many other good

Good Luck to The Aggies on the upcoming season!

AggieSports.com

• 2010 record: 11-2 (6-2 in Big 12 South, tied for first) • 2010 results: S4 Washington State, 65-17; S11 Troy, 41-38; S18 Tulsa, 65-28; S30 Texas A&M, 38-35; O8 at UL-Lafayette, 54-28; O16 at Texas Tech, 34-17; O23 Nebraska, 41-51; N6 Baylor, 5528; N13 at Texas, 33-16; N20 at Kansas, 48-14; N27 Oklahoma, 41-47; D29 vs. Arizona, 36-10. • 2011 schedule: S3 UL-Lafayette; S8 Arizona; S17 at Tulsa; S24 at Texas A&M; O8 Kansas; O15 at Texas; O22 at Missouri; O29 Baylor; N5 Kansas State; N 22 at Texas Tech; N18 at Iowa State; D3 Oklahoma. • Offensive starters returning: 11 — WR Hubert Anyiam, 6-0, 202, sr. (11-135, 3 TDs); WR Justin Blackmon, 6-1, 215, jr. (111-1,782, 20 TDs, A-Big 12); G Lane Taylor, 6-3, 310, jr. (HM A-Big 12); TE Wilson Youman, 6-5, 245, sr. (2-11, 1 TD); RG Nick Martinez, 6-4, 310, sr.; LG Jonathan Rush, 6-4, 305, sr.; C Grant Garner, 6-3, 292, sr. (HM A-Big 12); RT Levy Adcock, 6-6, 322, sr. (A-Big 12); QB Brandon Weedon, 6-4, 218, sr. (342 of 511 for 4,277 yards, 34 TDs, 13 int., A-Big 12); WR Tracy Moore, 6-1, 233, jr. (17-212, 1 TD); RB Joseph Randle, 6-1, 191, soph.(81-453, 2 TDs) • Defensive starters returning: 6 — E Richetti Jones, 6-3, 260, sr. (34 tackles, 7 TFL); S Markelle Martin, 6-1, 198, sr. (55 tackles, 10 PBU); E Jamie Blatnick, 6-3, 265, sr. (27 tackles); LB Shaun Lewis, 5-11, 200, soph. (58 tackles, 8 TFL); CB Brodrick Brown, 5-8, 185, jr. (77 tackles); S Johnny Thomas, 5-11, 205, sr. (63 tackles, HM A-Big 12) • Special teams returning: P Quinn Sharp, 6-1, 189, jr. (46.2 avg on 46 kicks, A-Big 12). • Key losses: E Ugo Chinasa (38 tackles, 6 TFL, 2nd A-Big 12); RB Kendall Hunter (271-1,548, 16 TDs, A-Big 12); LB Orie Lemon (133 tackles, A-Big 12); PK Dan Bailey (27 of 31 FGs, A-Big 12); DB Andrew McGee (51 tackles, 5 int., HM A-Big 12); FB Bryant Ward (A-Big 12). • Team statistics last year: 44.2 ppg (1st in the Big 12, 3rd in the nation); 26.4 points allowed per game (6th/61st); 345.8 yards passing per game (1st/2nd); 275.8 yards passing per game allowed (11th/115th); 174.4 yards rushing per game (4th/36th); 133.7 yards rushing per game allowed (2nd/37th); 520.2 yards offense per game (1st/3rd); 409.5 yards allowed per game (8th/88th). • Head coach: Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State, 1989), 47-29, five years. • Assistant coaches: Bill Young, defensive coordinator/defensive line; Todd Monken, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Kasey Dunn, receivers; Jemal Singleton, running backs; Doug Meacham, inside receivers; Jason Jones, cornerbacks; Glenn Spencer, linebackers; Joe Wickline, offensive line; and Joe DeForest associate head coach/special teams.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It’s hard to think that Oklahoma State junior wide receiver Justin Blackmon could have a better season. After all, how do you top 111 catches for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns? Blackmon, though, positioned himself to have a possible Heisman Trophy-type season with a rigorous offseason. He said it might take 2,500 yards receiving and 30 touchdowns to become the first receiver to win the col- BLACKMON lege football’s biggest prize since Michigan’s Desmond Howard did 1991. So are those numbers realistic for Blackmon who had only 20 catches as a freshman? “I’ll answer for him,” said OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden. “I don’t think he’s going to try to have 21 touchdowns and however many yards. I don’t think he’s worried about that. I think he’s more worried about becoming a better football player. He’s running better routes. He’s continued to work to get faster and stronger. He’s doing all the things to put himself in position to have better numbers. He’s pretty special, there’s no doubt about it, he’s a pretty special player.” Last season, Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation’s best receiver. The two-time AllAmerican said it’s about winning and playing for the fans. He’s already been doing the latter along with Weeden via the social media. OSU launched Weeden2Blackmon last month on facebook and twitter and it’s been a huge success with thousands able to keep up with the prolific duo as they prepare for 2011. It’s an interesting combination. Weeden, who was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2002, is 27 years old. Blackmon, who is from Ardmore, Okla., has made the Cowboys get over losing Dez Bryant a year early to the Dallas Cowboys. “I’m not going to lie, when I first saw him, Dez Bryant was still there,” Weeden said. “I said he’s the closest thing to

Dez Bryant as far as body type. They look completely alike in pads.” Blackmon might be better. He became the first Cowboy named Big 12 offensive player of the year and was the first receiver in the history of the league to win the award. Maybe the most impressive thing about Blackmon’s success last year was that he often didn’t practice during the regular season because of a high ankle sprain. A strenuous offseason has prepared him for punishment he’ll receive getting double- and triple-coverages he expects to face. “I’ve tried to improve everything, my running, my catching,” Blackmon said. “I did a lot of jugs machines. I did a lot of things in the weight room to help my explosiveness and things of that nature.” Blackmon’s offseason work included a segment for ESPN Sport Science. Blackmon ran, jumped and changed directions while machines monitored his strength, ability and coordination. He’s such a marked man that Blackmon understands his catches actually could go down, but that might not be bad. “I feel like the run is what opens up the pass,” Blackmon said. “When they come and try to put two people over the top, why not run the ball if there’s not seven people in the box? We run the spread, so we open everything up. The run is really what helps me out.” Don’t expect the Cowboys to run a lot, even though OSU had to switch offensive coordinators with Todd Monken replacing Dana Holgorsen who became West Virginia’s head coach. Monken,who was the Cowboys’ passing-game coordinator and receivers coach in 2002-04 under former coach Les Miles, has big shoes to fill. OSU ranked third nationally in scoring (44.2 ppg) and third in total offense (520 yards per game) in Holgorsen’s only year. Blackmon, though, doesn’t think the Cowboys will miss a beat. “It helps a lot when you’ve got your five linemen coming back and you’ve got three out of four receivers coming back,” he said. “And you have two running backs who have both played. It really helps to have experience — we know

By ROBERT CESSNA robert.cessna@theeagle.com

College Football 2011

OSU receiver poised for huge year

receivers. I really do. Beggars can’t be choosers. I love throwing the ball to him, but on the flip side, you have to be smart. If he’s covered, I got to find someone else.”

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17


AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011

Longhorn has enjoyed staying in Austin By RICHARD CROOME richard.croome@theeagle.com

Blake Gideon believes picking up and moving from town to town when he was a youngster will help work past the Texas Longhorns’ worst season in 13 years. “It allows you to harden up a little bit and to go out and expect GIDEON change and adversity and that has helped me,” said the senior safety.

College Football 2011

Texas’ Gideon wants to bury 2010

18

“Dad always coached me through adversity and I’ve definitely faced adversity here in my college career.” Gideon graduated from Leander before moving down I-35 to Austin. He was born in DeLeon and lived in Comanche, Groesbeck, Munday, Midland and Athens before playing his high school football for the Leander Lions. “It’s probably the longest I’ve been at one place,” said Gideon. “With Dad being a high school football coach, we were always moving all

See TEXAS, Page 22

TEXAS LONGHORNS

• 2010 record: 5-7 (2-6 in Big 12 South, sixth) • 2010 results: S4 vs. Rice, 34-17; S11 Wyoming, 34-7; S18 at Texas Tech, 24-14; S25 UCLA, 12-34; O2 vs. Oklahoma, 20-28; O16 at Nebraska, 20-13; O23 Iowa State, 21-28; O30 Baylor, 2230; N6 at Kansas State, 14-39; N13 Oklahoma State, 16-33; N12 Florida Atlantic, 51-17; N25 Texas A&M, 17-24. • 2011 schedule: S3 Rice; S10 BYU; S17 at UCLA; O1 at Iowa State; O8 vs. Oklahoma in Dallas; O15 Oklahoma State; O29 Kansas; N5 Texas Tech; N12 at Missouri; N19 at Kansas State; N24 at Texas A&M; D3 at Baylor. • Offensive starters returning: 6 — RG Mason Walters, 6-6, 315, soph.; LG David Snow, 6-4, 295, sr.; WR Mike Davis, 6-2, 188, soph. (47-478, 2 TDs); QB Garrett Gilbert, 6-4, 219, jr. (260 of 441 for 2,733 yards, 10 TDs, 17 int. & 100-380, 5 TDs rushing); TB Fozzy Whittaker, 5-10, 202, sr. (80-351, 2 TDs); FB Cody Johnson, 5-11, 252, sr. (134-592, 6 TDs). • Defensive starters returning: 5 — FS Blake Gideon, 6-1, 205, sr. (63 tackles, HM A-Big 12); T Kheeston Randall, 6-5, 305, sr. (33 tackles, 10 TFL, HM A-Big 12); LB Keenan Robinson, 6-3, 240, sr. (106 tackles, HM A-Big 12); LB Emmanuel Acho, 6-2, 245, sr. (61 tackles, 2nd A-Big 12); FS Kenny Vaccaro, 6-1, 215, jr. (54 tackles, 7 PBU). • Special teams returning: P-PK Justin Tucker, 6-1, 185, sr. (41.2 on 35 kicks & 23-27 FGs). • Key departures: CB Aaron Williams (46 tackles, 10 PBU, 2nd ABig 12); CB Curtis Brown (23 tackles, 2nd A-Big 12); OT Kyle Hix; OG Michael Huey (HM A-Big 12); WR James Kirkendoll (52-707 yds, 2 TDs); WR John Chiles (29-418 yds, 1 TD); E Sam Acho (58 tackles, 15.5 TFL, A-Big 12); CB Chykie Brown (16 tackles). • Team statistics last year: 23.8 ppg (10th in the Big 12, 88th in the nation); 23.7 points allowed per game (5th/49th); 232.0 yards passing per game (7th/50th); 161.6 yards passing per game allowed (2nd/6th); 150.5 yards rushing per game (7th/66th); 138.6 yards rushing per game allowed (3rd/44th); 382.5 yards offense per game (8th/58th); 300.2 yards allowed per game (1st/6th). • Head coach: Mack Brown (Florida State, 1974). 133-34 (.796) in 13 years at UT, 219-108-1 (.669) overall in 27 years. • Assistant coaches: Bryan Harsin, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Oscar Giles, defensive ends; Manny Diaz, defensive coordinator/linebackers; Duane Akina, assistant head coach/defensive backs; Major Applewhite, co-offensive coordinator/running backs; Bruce Chambers, recruiting coordinator/tight ends; Darrell Wyatt, co-recruitng coordinator/wide receivers; Bo Davis, defensive tackles; Stacy Searles, offensive line.

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By DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is not short on confidence. He knows what he can do on the football field. “I can run with the best of them,” Griffin said. “I can throw with the best of them.” A hyper-athletic, dualthreat signalcaller, Griffin burst onto the Big 12 scene during his GRIFFIN III freshman season in 2008. Wowing coaches and befuddling opposing defenses with his uncanny athleticism, Griffin compiled 28 total touchdowns. A torn-ACL in the team’s first game in 2009 was, at the time, a major detour in a career that looked like it could live on in Baylor lore.

However, during his redshirt sophomore season, a healthy Griffin proved that his freshman campaign wasn’t a fluke. He proved that the knee was healthy. In throwing for 3,501 yards and 22 touchdowns, he also proved that his game had undergone a transformation; that Griffin could truly beat teams both on the ground and through the air. And coach Art Briles thinks the knee — and Griffin for that matter — will be better in 2011. “I think it takes an ACL a full year to really feel comfortable about what you're doing,” Briles said. “So this year, starting out, we know where he's at. We know what he can do on the field. And so there won't be any questions when we jump on the field Sept. 2 concerning that.” It’ll be tough for Griffin to top his accomplishments in 2010. Along with his gaudy numbers in the passing game,

think is going to help us.” Featured back Eric Stephens will be the beneficiary of the continued effort to improve the ground game. He ran for 683 yards in 2010, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Tech still passed the ball on nearly 60 percent of it snaps last year, and Tuberville said he expects to throw the ball at least that much this season. He’s counting on the veteran line, which includes all-

conference guard Lonnie Edwards, to protect his relatively green quarterback, junior Seth Doege. “The good thing about Seth is he’s got his offensive line back, they’ll help protect him better,” Tuberville said. “But what he’s got to do is learn to get rid of the ball, don’t take those hard licks and as the season goes on, have to work through those bumps and bruises.”

AggieSports.com

Baylor quarterback hoping to build on 2010

behind and the quarterback, who is about four yards behind the center. “Of course the strength of our offense is our offensive line, which really got better in run blocking last year,” Tuberville said. “We didn’t have a tight end last year and people were able to gang up on our running game, so with a tight end and being able to run the ball, both sides, a little bit more complex offense I

Friday, September 2, 2011

Offensive tackle Mickey Okafor doesn’t need statistics to know the Texas Tech running game is taking strides forward. Under pass-happy head coach Mike Leach, an offensive lineman backpedaled more than most politicians. Even on many of the running plays, the first step for Tech’s front line was in reverse. So when Tommy Tuberville, who came from a more run-oriented SEC, the Red Raiders’ offensive line literally headed in a new direction. “We had to get used to hitting, coming off the ball again, instead of getting hit in a pass set,” Okafor said. “We’re delivering the punch now, and it feels good to do that and a lot of guys are excited about the running game.” By no means did the Red Raiders make a complete 180degree turnaround, but their rushing totals nearly doubled

(1,092 to 1,837) in the first year under Tuberville. Tech went from 12th in rushing to ninth last season among Big 12 teams. Okafor, a second-team allBig 12 performer in his first year as a starter, expects those numbers to improve now that the Red Raiders have had a year to regain their bearings. “We even got down in three-point stances,” Okafor said. “We hadn’t got down in three-point stances in three years, since high school, and now it’s three-point stance and teeing off the ball.” At 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Okafor, a senior, shouldn’t have too much trouble moving forward after putting his hand in the dirt. Nor should any of his linemates, all of whom started last season and are now accustomed to Tuberville’s philosophy for moving the ball. With a season under their belt, the Red Raiders plan to diversify the ground game, running out of “The Pistol,” where the tailback lines up

By RICHARD CROOME richard.croome@theeagle.com

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

• 2010 record: 8-5 (3-5 in Big 12 South, fifth) — S5 SMU, 35-27; S11 at New Mexico, 52-17; S18 Texas, 14-24; O2 at Iowa State, 38-52; O9 Baylor, 45-38; O16 Oklahoma State,17-34; O23 at Colorado, 27-24; O30 at Texas A&M, 27-45; N6 Missouri, 24-17; N13 at Oklahoma, 7-45; N20 Weber State, 64-21; N27 Houston, 35-20; vs. Northwestern, 45-38. • 2011 schedule: S3 Texas State; S17 New Mexico; S24 Nevada; O1 at Kansas; O8 Texas A&M; O15 Kansas State; O22 at Oklahoma; O29 Iowa State; N5 at Texas; N12 Oklahoma State; N19 at Missouri; N28 vs. Baylor in Arlington. • Offensive starters returning: 6 — WR Tramain Swindall, 6-2, 186, sr. (33-271, 1 TD), OL Lonnie Edwards, 6-4, 320, sr. (2nd A-Big 12); WR Alex Torres, 6-1, 194, jr. (39-481, 3 TDs); G Deveric Gallington, 6-3, 328, jr.; L LaDrian Waddle, 6-6, 322, jr., HM A-Big 12); T Mickey Okafor, 6-6, 307, sr. • Defensive starters returning: 6 — E Donald Langley, 6-1, 266, sr. (14 tackles); SS Brett Dewhurst, 5-11, 197, sr. (35 tackles); CB Jarvis Phillips, 5-10, 182, soph. (57 tackles, 10 PBU); FS D.J. Johnson, 6-0, 196, jr. (42 tackles, HM A-Big 12); CB Tre’ Porter, 6-0, 200, soph. (76 tackles); S Cody Davis, 6-2, 200, jr. (87 tackles, HM A-Big 12). • Special teams returning: 0 • Key departures: WR Lyle Leong, 6-1, 165, sr. (74-926, 19 TDs, HM A-Big 12); WR Detron Lewis, 6-0, 205, sr. (87852, 6 TDs, HM A-Big 12); RB Baron Batch, 5-11, 205, sr. (177-816, 5 TDs, HM A-Big 12); OL Chris Olson, 6-5, 296, sr.; QB Taylor Potts, 6-5, 218, sr. (369 of 551 for 3,726 yds, 35 TDs, 10 int.); LB Brian Duncan, 6-1, 240, sr. (63 tackles, 12 TFL, HM A-Big 12); NT Colby Whitlock, 6-2, 287, sr. (57 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 2nd A-Big 12); LB Bront Bird 6-3, 240, sr. (106 tackles, HM A-Big 12); S Franklin Mitchem, 6-2, 198, sr. (41 tackles); PK Matt Williams, 5-8, 164, sr. (9-11 FGs). • Team statistics last year: 33.1 ppg (4th in the Big 12, 23rd in the nation); 30.9 points allowed per game (11th/93rd); 318.9 yards passing per game (3rd/7th); 293.8 yards passing per game allowed (12th/118th); 141.3 yards rushing per game (9th/75th); 162.5 yards rushing per game allowed (8th/69th); 460.2 yards offense per game (4th/15th); 456.3 yards allowed per game (12th/114th). • Head coach: Tommy Tuberville (S. Arkansas, 1976) first year at Tech; 110-60 overall (.647). • Assistant coaches: James Willis, defensive coordinator; Chad Scott, running backs; Matt Moore, offensive line; Sonny Cumbie, inside receivers; Travaris Robinson, secondary; Sam McElroy, defensive line; Neal Brown, offensive coordinator; Tommy Mainord, outside receivers; Robert Prunty, defensive ends/outside linebackers.

College Football 2011

Texas Tech getting ground game going

BAYLOR BEARS

• 2010 record: 7-6 (4-4 in Big 12 South, fourth) • 2010 results: S4 Sam Houston State, 34-3; S 11 Buffalo, 34-6; S 18 at TCU, 10-45; S 25 at Rice, 30-13; O2 Kansas, 55-7; O9 vs. Texas Tech, 38-45; O16 at Colorado, 31-25; O23 Kansas State, 47-42; O 30 at Texas, 30-22; N6 at Oklahoma State, 24-53; N13 Texas A&M, 30-42; N20 Oklahoma, 24-53; D 29 vs. Illinois, 14-38. • 2011 schedule: S2 TCU; S17 SFA; S24 Rice; O1 at Kansas State; O8 Iowa State; O15 at Texas A&M; O29 at Oklahoma State; N5 Missouri; N12 Kansas; N19 Oklahoma; N26 vs. Texas Tech in Arlington; D3 Texas. • Offensive starters returning: 7 — WR Lanear Sampson, 5-11, 200, jr. (42-390, 0 TDs); C Phillip Blake, 6-2, 315, sr. (HM A-Big 12); WR Kendall Wright, 5-10 190, sr. (78-952, 7 TDs, 2nd A-Big 12); G Cameron Kaufhold, 6-4, 310, jr.; QB Robert Griffin III, 6-2, 220, jr. (304 of 454 for 3,501 yards, 22 TDs, 8 int. & 149-635 rushing, 8 TDs, 2nd A-Big 12); T Ivory Wade, 6-4, 295, jr.; WR Terrance Williams, 6-2, 195, jr. (43-484, 4 TDs). • Defensive starters returning: 5 — NG Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, 6-2, 315, sr. (31 tackles); T Tracy Robertson, 6-4, 275, sr. (17 tackles); CB Chance Casey, 5-11, 185, jr. (48 tackles); LB Elliot Coffey, 6-0, 230, sr. (61 tackles); E Gary Mason, 64, 265, jr. (21 tackles). • Special teams returning: PK Aaron Jones, 6-3, 180, soph. (11-16 FGs, HM A-Big 12) • Key departures: RB Jay Finley (195-1,218, 12 TDs, HM A-Big 12); TE Brad Taylor (20-269, 2 TDs); NG Phil Taylor (62 tackles, 2nd A-Big 12); FS Tim Atchison (72 tackles); OT Danny Watkins (2nd A-Big 12); LB Antonio Johnson (70 tackles, HM A-Big 12); DB Byron Lander (127 tackles, HM A-Big 12); P Derek Epperson (43.7 avg. on 56 kicks, HM A-Big 12). • Team statistics last year: 31.2 ppg (6th in the Big 12, 36th in the nation); 30.5 points allowed per game (9th/89th); 280.7 yards passing per game (4th/19th); 265.1 yards passing per game allowed (10th/114th); 194.6 yards rushing per game (3rd/24th); 170.3 yards rushing allowed per game (9th/79th); 475.3 yards offense per game (3rd/13th); 435.4 yards allowed per game (10th/104th). • Head coach: Art Briles (Texas Tech, 1979), 15-22 at Baylor, 49-50 overall. • Assistant coaches: Randy Clements, co-offensive coordinator/offensive line; Phillip Montgomery, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks/running backs; Kendal Briles, inside receivers/offensive recruiting coordinator; Jim Gush, linebackers; Dino Babers, wide receivers/special teams coordinator; Chris Acheff, defensive tackles; Phil Bennett, defensive coordinator; Theo Young, defensive ends; Carlton Buckels, cornerbacks.

he ran for 635 yards and eight touchdowns. More importantly, though, he was at the forefront of a program’s revival as Baylor qualified for a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Although the team was handed a 38-14 loss at the hands of Illinois in the Texas Bowl, Griffin took the extra practice time and overall experience of playing under

the bright lights as a positive. “We practiced a lot more, our young guys got better,” Griffin said. “You get more time with your players. We felt it in the spring because we were so far advanced.” Baylor took a huge step in 2010. A victory in Austin over rival Texas was undoubtedly a seminal moment in a season where the Bears made football relevant in Waco again. But

with success comes expectations. “I judge myself on wins and losses and our job is to win a lot of games,” Griffin said. “So those are the expectations.” Though the offense must replace leading rusher Jay Finley, it is a unit widely projected to make noise throughout the conference. Four offensive linemen and a bevy of talented receivers return.

19


College Football 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

By RICHARD CROOME richard.croome@theeagle.com

Like most college football players, Kansas State safety Tysyn Hartman has grown physically with each passing season. As a junior, the added weight was especially handy as Hartman found himself having to drag down opposing ball carriers 86 times, second among all Wildcats and 19th in the Big HARTMAN 12. “We are built for covering, our bodies aren’t always built for tackling, so our bodies got kind of beat up,” said Hartman, who in 2010 came in a handful of pounds heavier than the previous season at 205. “It’s always tough staying healthy in this conference because it’s so good, so physical.” Kansas State finished last in the Big 12 (231.4 yards per game) against the run, so

many of Hartman’s 86 tackles were against backs that had just flown by the Wildcats’ front seven with a full head of steam, rather than pulling down a receiver immediately after making a reception. “I know our top two tackle leaders were David Garrett at nickel and me at safety and I want to say [freshman safety] Ty Zimmerman was there at third, so when you have more secondary guys leading the team in tackles it’s tough,” said Hartman. Actually, Zimmerman was fourth, three stops behind linebacker Alex Hrbec. But when three of the teams’ four leading tacklers are among three of the four lightest players on the field, it can wear a secondary corps down. Hartman finished stronger than he started, with 32 of his tackles coming in the final four games and his two interceptions against Texas in the eighth game. One of the reasons for Hartman’s slow start was he was his recovery from a knee injury that he refused to use as an excuse. The other was

Kansas linebacker happy to be playing for Jayhawks By DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

20

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson is aware of his situation. “Not everyone can play Division I football,” he said. He understands how rare it is to have the opportunity to play the sport he loves at the highest level. He relishes every experience — simply because his dream almost didn’t come to JOHNSON fruition. The Jayhawks’ leading tackler in 2010, Johnson’s road to Lawrence, from sideline to sideline, has been treacherous — full of detours, doubters and denial. Johnson didn’t suit up on his varsity high school team in Media, Pa., until his senior year. And although he led the

state in tackles, with 123 to his name, he received zero offers to play Division I football. So he enrolled at Wyoming Seminary College Prep School in Forty Fort, Pa. After four games flourishing on the field, Temple and Georgia Tech took notice. But in his fifth game, his dreams seemingly snapped the minute his ACL tore. For a player who hearkens back on the little things, it was a big blow. But it was not as detrimental as he originally thought. Surprisingly, KU came calling, offering Johnson a walkon spot. He jumped at the opportunity and after two years of relentlessness, he’s the unequivocal leader of a defense hoping to rebuild. The Jayhawks went 3-9 in 2010 under first-year coach Turner Gill. Though his first season in the Big 12 didn’t go according to a plan, the important part is that he does have one. “I have a plan being able to

KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

• 2010 record: 7-6 (3-5 in Big 12 North, tied for third) • 2010 results: S4 UCLA, 31-22; S11 Missouri State, 48-24; S18 vs. Iowa State, 27-20; S25 Central Florida ,1713; O7 Nebraska, 13-48; O14 at Kansas, 59-7; O23 at Baylor, 42-47; O30 Oklahoma State, 14-24; N6 Texas, 39-14; N13 at Missouri, 28-38; N20 at Colorado, 36-44; N27 at North Texas, 49-41; D 30 vs. Syracuse, 34-36. • 2010 schedule: S3 E. Kentucky; S17 Kent State; S24 at Miami (Fla.); O1 Baylor; O8 Missouri; O15 at Texas Tech; O22 at Kansas; O29 Oklahoma; N5 at Oklahoma State; N12 Texas A&M; N19 at Texas; D3 Iowa State. • Offensive starters returning: 6 — RT Clyde Aufner, 6-6, 301, sr.; FB Braden Wilson, 6-4, 244, jr.; WR Tremaine Thompson, 5-7, 165, soph. (19-258, 0 TDs); WR Chris Harper, 6-1, 225, jr. (25-330, 4 TDs); LT Manase Foketi, 6-5, 300, sr.; TE Travis Tannahill, 6-3, 245, jr. (7-103, TD). • Defensive starters returning: 8 — DB Tysyn Hartman, 6-3, 206, sr.; (86 tackles); T Ray Kibble, 6-4, 305, sr. (30 tackles); E Brandon Harold, 6-5, 294, jr. (41 tackles, 7.5 TFL); CB David Garrett, 5-8, 175, sr. (92 tackles, 15 TFL, 9 PBU); SS Ty Zimmerman, 6-1, 202, soph. (74 tackles, 3 int., 2nd A-Big 12); DL Raphael Guidry; 6-4, 290, sr. (36 tackles); LB Alex Hrebec, 5-11, 240, sr. (77 tackles, 10 PBU); DB Emmanuel Lamur, 6-4, 219, sr. (46 tackes). • Special teams returning: P Ryan Doerr, 6-3, 182, jr. (41.3 avg. on 57 punts) • Key departures: OL Zach Kendall (2nd A-Big 12); OL Kenny Mayfield; RB Daniel Thomas (298-1,585, 19 TDs, 2nd A-Big 12); OL Wade Weibert; DB Troy Butler (18 tackles); DE Antonio Felder (38 tackles); DB Terrance Sweeny (49 tackles, 9 PBU, HM A-Big 12); DB Stephen Harrison (40 tackles, 12 PBU, HM A-Big 12) ; PK Josh Cherry (7-9 FGs). • Team statistics last year: 33.6 ppg (3rd in the Big 12, 22nd in the nation); 29.1 points allowed per game (8th/78th); 179.3 yards passing per game (9th/92nd); 214.3 yards passing per game allowed (5th/52nd); 199.5 yards rushing per game (2nd/22nd); 231.4 yards rushing per game allowed (12th/119th); 378.8 yards offense per game (9th/62nd); 445.7 yards allowed per game (11th/106th). • Head coach: Bill Snyder (William Jewell ’63), 149-79-1 in 19 years at KSU • Assistant coaches: Dana Dimel, co-offensive coordinator/running backs,tight ends; Del Miller, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Mo Latimore defensive line; Charlie Dickey, offensive line; Jim Bob Clements, defensive ends; Michael Smith, wide receivers; Chris Cosh, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator; Sean Snyder, associate head coach/special teams coordinator; Tom Hayes, defensive passing game coordinator/defensive backs.

he was needed more as the team’s run defense faltered. KSU surrendered 40 points a game in the four games after defeating Texas 39-14. “We didn’t finish well as a defense mainly due in part to our run defense, but we finished fourth or fifth in passing efficiency defense and in this conference that is tough because we have the best quarterbacks and receivers,

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Kansas State safety wants team to improve

and coordinators who know how to get the ball to the playmakers,” said Hartman. “That’s something we can build on, especially with the returning starters we have in the secondary and the new speed we have at linebacker.” Hartman has peaked at 213 pounds since Kansas State’s 36-34 loss to Syracuse in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl. He plans on playing at

about 210 in his last season at Manhattan. He also intends on not having to make as many tackles against the run with the addition of Miami transfer and high school All-American linebacker Arthur Brown and the return of Hrbec and freshman Tre Walker. Kansas State is also switching from the 4-2-5 to a 4-3 formation.

KANSAS JAYHAWKS

• 2010 record: 3-9 (1-7 in Big 12 North, sixth) • 2010 results: S4 North Dakota State, 3-6; S11 Georgia Tech, 28-25; S17 at S. Mississippi, 16-31; S25 New Mexico State, 42-16; O2 at Baylor, 7-55; O14 Kansas State, 7-59; O23 Texas A&M, 10-45; O30 at Iowa State, 16-28; N6 Colorado,52-45; N13 at Nebraska, 3-20; N20 Oklahoma State, 14-48; N27 vs. Missouri, 7-35. • 2011 schedule: S3 McNeese State; S10 Northern Illinois; S17 at Georgia Tech; O1 Texas Tech; O8 at Oklahoma State; O15 Oklahoma; O22 Kansas State; O29 at Texas; N5 at Iowa State; N12 Baylor; N19 Texas A&M; N26 vs. Kansas State, Kansas City. • Offensive starters returning: 7 — C Jeremiah Hatch, 6-3, 332, sr.; QB Jordan Webb, 6-0, 210, soph. (121 of 214 passing for 1,195 yards, 7 TDs, 8 int.); TB James Sims, 6-0, 206, soph. (168-742, 9 TDs); WR Daymond Patterson, 5-9, 173, sr. (60-487, 2 TDs); RG Duane Ziatnik, 6-4, 326, jr.; LT Tanner Hawkinson, 6-6, 293, jr.; TE Tim Biere, 6-4, 260, sr. (19-228, 4 TDs). • Defensive starters returning: 6 — FS Lubbock Smith, 6-0, 206, jr. (48 tackes); CB Greg Brown, 5-11, 185, jr. (46 tackles); CB Isiah Barfield, 5-11, 185, sr. (55 tackles 6 PBU); LB Steven Johnson 6-1, 237, sr. (95 tackles); T Patrick Dorsey, 6-0, 273, sr. (27 tackles); E Toben Opurum, 6-1, 240, jr. (21 tackles). • Special teams returning: none. • Key departures: WR Johnathan Wilson (38-387, 2 TDs); LG Sal Capra; RT Brad Thorson; E Jake Laptad (38 tackles, HM A-Big 12); SS Phillip Stozier (13 tackles); LB Drew Dudley (64 tackles); CB Chris Harris (82 tackles). • Team statistics last year: 17.1 ppg (12th in the Big 12, 111th in the nation); 34.4 points allowed per game (12th/103rd); 161.8 yards passing per game (11th, 103rd); 222.5 yards passing per game allowed (7th/65th); 134.6 yards rushing per game (12th/87th); 205.2 yards rushing per game allowed (11th/107th); 296.4 yards offense per game (12th/113th); 427.7 yards allowed per game (9th/ 98th). • Head coach: Turner Gill (North Texas, 1990), 6-18 at KU, 23-39 overall. • Assistant coaches: Chuck Long, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Vince Singletary, linebackers; J.B. Grimes, offensive line; Aaron Stamn, tight ends/special teams coordinator; Reggie Mitchell, running backs/recruiting coordinator; Vic Shealy, defensive coordinator/cornerbacks; David Beaty, co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers; Buddy Wyatt, defensive line; Robert Wimberly, safeties.

recruit, being able to teach and develop young men to play the game of football,” Gill said, “and also play in the game of life.” Johnson can attest to football translating to life. “It’s the little stuff,” he said. “Everything I do has always translated to football. Never skip a set, never jump the line.”

Because of that attitude, Johnson has been stirring on the field, leading his defense under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Vic Shealy. “Steven Johnson right now, it’s phenomenal the growth that’s occurred as a football player,” Shealy told the Kansas City Star. “It seems as if every practice he does some-

thing where we just kind of say, ‘Wow.’” Johnson points to an offseason of strenuous workouts as a reason for his maturation on the football field. He also lists a CD given to him by linebackers coach Vantz Singletary — formerly the inside linebackers coach of the San Francisco 49ers — as a major teaching tool.


By ROBERT CESSNA robert.cessna@theeagle.com

LABOR DAY!

AggieSports.com

MISSOURI TIGERS

• 2010 record: 10-3 (6-2 in Big 12 North, tied for first) • 2010 results: S4 vs. Illinois, 23-13; S11 McNeese St., 50-6; S18 San Diego St., 27-24; S25 Miami (Ohio), 51-13; O9 Colorado, 26-0; O16 at Texas A&M, 30-9; O23 Oklahoma, 36-27; O30 at Nebraska, 17-31; N6 at Texas Tech, 17-24; N13 Kansas State, 38-28; N20 at Iowa State, 14-0; N27 vs. Kansas at Kansas City, 35-7; vs. Iowa, 24-27. • 2010 schedule: S3 Miami (Ohio); S9 at Arizona State; S17 Western Illinois; S24 at Oklahoma; O8 at Kansas State; O15 Iowa State; O22 Oklahoma State; O29 at Texas A&M; N5 at Baylor; N12 Texas; N19 Texas Tech; N26 vs. Kansas at Kansas City. • Team statistics last year: 29.8 ppg (8th in the Big 12, 43rd in the nation); 16.1 points allowed per game (1st/6th); 253.2 yards passing per game (6th/33rd); 203.5 yards passing per game allowed (3rd/37th); 156.4 yards rushing per game (6th/57th); 152.9 yards rushing per game allowed (6th/62nd); 409.6 yards offense per game (6th/35th); 356.4 yards allowed per game (3rd/47th). • Offensive starters returning: 9 — LT Elvis Fisher, 6-5, 295, sr. (HM A-Big 12); WR Jerrell Jackson, 6-1, 185, sr. (50-656, 3 TDs); WR Wes Kemp, 6-4, 220, sr. (39-420, 3 TDs); RG Austin Wuebbels, 6-4, 295, sr. (HM A-Big 12); T Dan Hock, 6-7, 320, sr.; LG Jayson Palmgren, 6-2, 305, sr.; TE Michael Egnew, 6-6, 245, sr. (90-762, 5 TDs, A-Big 12); TB De’Vion Moore, 5-9, 165, sr. (99-517. 8 TDs); WR T.J. Moe, 6-0, 190, jr. (92-1,045, 6 TDs, 2nd A-Big 12). • Defensive starters returning: 7 — T Dominique Hamilton, 6-5, 3-5, sr. (20 tackles); LB Zaviar Gooden, 6-2, 230, jr. (85 tackles, 7.5 TFL); L Brad Madison, 6-4, 265, jr. (32 tackles, 11 TFL, HM A-Big 12); T Terrell Resonno, 6-5, 295, sr. (35 tackles, HM A-Big 12); E Jacquies Smith, 6-4, 255, sr. (21 tackles, 5 TFL, 2nd A-Big 12); SS Kenji Jackson, 5-10, 200, sr. (66 tackles); LB Will Ebner, 6-1, 230, sr. (47 tackles) • Special teams — K Grant Ressel, 6-2, 190, sr. (17-19 FGs, HM A-Big 12) • Key departures: C Tim Barnes (A-Big 12); QB Blaine Gabbert (301 of 475 for 3,186 yards, 16 TDs, 9 int., HM A-Big 12); CB Carl Gettis (48 tackles); LB Andrew Gachkar (84 tackles, 8.5 TFL, HM A-Big 12); CB Kevin Rutland (44 tackles, 7 PBU); SS Jarrell Harrison (69 tackles); E Aldon Smith (17 tackles, A-Big 12). • Head coach: Gary Pinkel (Kent State, 1975) 77-49 at Missouri in 10 years, 150-86-3 overall. • Assistant coaches: Dave Steckel, defensive coordinator/ linebackers; David Yost, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks/recruiting coordinator; Cornell Ford, cornerbacks; Josh Henson, co-offensive line; Andy Hill, wide receivers; Brian Jones, running backs; Craig Kuligowski, defensive line; Barry Odom, safeties; Bruce Walker, co-offensive line.

HAPPY

Friday, September 2, 2011

Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe grabbed a camera at the Big 12 media days to help out the school’s sports information department. “I’ve probably taken a 100 pictures, I’ve been taking pictures of everybody,” said Moe, camera hanging from his neck. He took photos of his teammates — defensive end Jacquies Smith, defen- MOE sive tackle Elvis Fisher, and safety Kenji Jackson — but said he focused on the cheerleaders first. “I even took a picture of coach [Gary] Pinkel,” Moe said. “I don’t know how happy he was about that, but I took a picture of him doing an interview.” Moe said he wanted credit for his work on the school’s website, nothing else. “I won’t be getting paid for that, and I won’t be getting any free tattoos, no cars, nothing,” he said, getting in a dig at Ohio State and others. The 195-pound Moe eventually will be paid well based on last year’s breakout season. After only two catches for 8

yards as a freshman, Moe had 92 receptions for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns. He had 15 catches for 152 yards in the season finale against Iowa, and almost had a memorable 16th. He thought he’d made a spectacular fourth-and-10 catch to keep alive Missouri’s final drive, but the replay official ruled it no catch, sealing Iowa’s 27-24 victory in the Insight Bowl. A&M fans became aware of the sure-handed Moe in Missouri’s 30-9 victory over Texas A&M. Moe had six catches for 110 yards, capping the Tigers’ scoring with a 20yard touchdown pass. Missouri’s reward for winning at Kyle Field before 83,453 is another return trip to College Station in the revamped Big 12 schedule that has every team playing each other after the league lost Nebraska and Colorado. “Life’s not fair, we’re not worried about fair,” Moe said. “We’ll go there every year if we have to, that’s OK. That’s a great atmosphere. They’ve got 90,000 fans. They’ve got great traditions, they’ve got great players. It’s a fun place, and they take care of you down there. The hotel you stay in is unbelievable. Everything that goes on [down there], they are a very classy program. We don’t mind going down there at all.”

College Football 2011

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College Football 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

By DAVID HARRIS david.harris@theeagle.com

When you stand 6-foot-6 and weigh more than 340 pounds, it’s tough to blend in. But four years ago, in-state powers Texas and Texas A&M didn’t notice Houstonarea offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele. “I was a big Texas fan,” he said. “Both my parents went to UT. My sister graduated from there.” Neither Texas nor A&M offered. So he went OSEMELE north. Now Osemele, a three-year starter at Iowa State, can’t be missed. A fifth-year senior, Osemele was named a preseason All-American. NFL scouts salivate at his size, his leadership and his potential. They also relish his mean streak.

“I’m aggressive when I’m on the field,” Osemele said. He mirrors his coach, Paul Rhoades, who has gained a reputation as one of the game’s up-and-coming coaches. Rhoades is fiery. And he’ll gamble — as evidenced by his gutsy call in 2010 to fake an extra point and go for the win, rather than the tie, against Nebraska. The call failed, but the brashness was not lost on those watching from afar. “It’s a call that I relive and a play I relive every week,” he said. “There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think about the play and what it could have created for our football team and our football program. “The fallout was positive, if anything, from players to fans to most people I talked to.” The 31-30 defeat was the first of three consecutive lateseason losses for the Cyclones, which prevented it from making a second consec-

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OT Osemele has made niche at ISU

IOWA STATE CYCLONES

• 2010 record: 5-7 (3-5 in Big 12 North, third for 3rd). • 2010 results: S2 Northern Illinois, 27-10; S11 at Iowa, 7-35; S18 vs. Kansas State, 20-27; S25 Northern Iowa, 27-0; O2 Texas Tech, 52-38; O9 Utah, 27-68; O16 at Oklahoma, 0-52; O23 at Texas, 28-21; O30 Kansas, 28-16; N6 Nebraska, 30-31 OT; N13 at Colorado, 14-34; N20 Missouri, 0-14. • 2011 schedule: S3 Northern Iowa; S10 Iowa; S16 at UConn; O1 Texas; O8 at Baylor; O15 at Missouri; O22 Texas A&M; O29 at Texas Tech; N5 Kansas; N18 Oklahoma State; N26 at Oklahoma; D3 at Kansas State. • Team statistics last year: 21.7 ppg (11th in the Big 12, 97th in the nation); 28.8 points allowed per game (7th/76th); 174.2 yards passing per game (10th/95th); 221.9 yards passing per game allowed (6th/64th in the nation); 143.2 yards rushing per game (8th, 72nd); 186.3 yards rushing per game allowed (10th/93rd); 317.4 yards offense per game (11th/99th); 408.2 yards allowed per game (7th/87th). • Offensive starters returning: 3 — WR Darius Darks, 6-1, 189, sr. (29-355, 1 TD); LT Kelechi Osemele, 6-6, 347, sr. (HM A-Big 12); G Hayworth Hicks, 6-3, 336, sr. Defensive starters returning: 7 — E Patrick Neal, 6-0, 250, sr. (29 tackles); CB Leonard Johnson, 5-10, 202, sr. (64 tackles, 7 PBU, 2nd A-Big 12); CB Ter’ran Benton, 6-0, 208, sr. (58 tackles); NG Stephen Ruempolhamer, 6-3, 298, sr. (33 tackles, 6 TFL); LB A.J. Klein, 6-1, 243, jr. (111 tackles, 3 int., HM A-Big 12); E Jacob Lattimer, 6-3, 247, sr. (39 tackles, 6.5 TFL, HM A-Big 12); LB Jake Knott, 6-2 243, jr. (130 tackles, 2nd A-Big 12). • Special teams returning: PK Grant Mahoney, 6-0, 185, sr. (4-11 FGs); P Kirby Van Der Kamp, 6-4, 193, soph. (46.2 avg. on 40 kicks, HM A-Big 12). • Key departures: LG Alex Alvarez; C Ben Lamaak (2nd A-Big 12); QB Austen Arnaud (171-of-290 passing for 1,703 yards, 13 TDs, 10 int.); RB Alexander Robinson (202-946, 9 TDs); WR Jake Williams (35-404, 4 TDs); TE Collin Franklin (54-530, 3 TDs. 2nd A-Big 12); SS David Sims (96 tackles, HM A-Big 12); NT Bailey Johnson (20 tackles); E Rashawn Parker (30 tackes). • Head coach: Paul Rhoads (Missouri Western ’89), 12-13 at ISU. • Assistant coaches: Bill Bleil, assistant head coach/offensive line; Kenith Pope, running backs; Tom Herman, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks; Wally Burnham, defensive line/linebackers; Courtney Messingham, wide receivers; Bobby Elliott, secondary; Shane Burnham, defensive tackles; Luke Wells, tight ends; Curtis Bray, defensive line. utive bowl appearance. In 2011, however, with leaders returning on both sides of the ball, ISU football is ready to take the next step as a program.

“Our expectation is to get to a bowl game,” Osemele said, “and win it.” Rhoades boasts about his team’s talent, calling it the best he has fielded in his

three seasons in Ames. At the forefront is the mammoth Osemele. “I think he’s deserving everything he’s getting,” Rhoades said.

TEXAS: Senior safety has seen good and bad with Longhorns Continued from 18

22

around Texas. All those schools ... this has probably been the most continuity I’ve had.” Gideon has definitely found a home in the Longhorn secondary, starting 39 games at safety, where he has eight interceptions and had been honorable mention Big 12 all three years. He had also grown pretty used to winning football games, having won 23 of 27 before last season, when the Longhorns slipped to 5-7. It was a rude awakening for Gideon, going from playing for the national title to finishing last in the Big 12 South and watching the bowl season from home. The loss brought wholesale changes at Texas, something the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder nicknamed “Slim” believed was needed despite it only being one losing season. “It really didn’t surprise me because that doesn’t happen at Texas ...,” Gideon said. “We have what we need at

Texas, so there needs to be some kind of change. Some coaches got replaced and the depth chart has been completely opened up, so there might be some changes with the players.” With his résumé — eight interceptions, 194 tackles — Gideon is not likely to be one of the changes, but he has approached this season differently. “Football, competitive athletics is all about having an edge in the way you train, the way you prepare, your attitude all the time,” said Gideon. “We could see in the first few games last year we didn’t play as well as we wanted to and didn’t play with as much intensity as we wanted to. You may be able to trace it back to January whenever we started being complacent, a little bit entitled after the national championship game. This year we have a reason to be a little bit mad.” Gideon also is aware anything can happen on the depth chart after he earned a

starting spot by his first game as a Longhorn. “It was a surprise for sure. I was coming in with four of five high school allAmericans at my position but I also knew I had a good chance to play because of the new defense coming in at that time,” Gideon said. “Coach [Duane] Akina told me this is what it is, you are a starter right now and you better grow up quick because there are a lot of guys counting on you.” Even though the defense slipped slightly in the national rankings, it was not the Longhorns’ biggest problem in 2010. All three units contributed to the Longhorns losing all its home Big 12 games and being manhandled on the road by Kansas State. “I’d probably say any play during the Kansas State game, I mean we didn’t play,” responded Gideon when asked to give an example of what happened last year. “It looked like we had just started playing football that game. There was one particular

play in that game where we blocked an extra point and everyone else was so beaten down in the game we weren’t paying attention and the kicker picked it up and ran it round for a two-point conversion.” The play has been brought up more than once while training for the upcoming season. “We never want to be that team again,” said Gideon. The Longhorns were counting on Garrett Gilbert, the former Gatorade and Parade National Player of the Year, at quarterback last season, but the then-sophomore threw seven more interceptions than touchdown passes while trying to fill the shoes of Colt McCoy, a Heisman candidate who went on to start as a rookie for the Cleveland Browns. Freshman Connor Wood and another McCoy, Case, could push Gilbert this season for the starting job. Gideon said he had no idea who would start, but was confident new offensive coordi-

nator Bryan Harsin will make the right selection. • NOTES — Texas had a minus12 turnover ratio, tied for 116th out of 120 a year after leading the nation in forced turnovers with 37. ... UT was horrific in scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, converting on only 23 of 52 trips inside the 20. The inability to score from in close helped kicker Justin Tucker make 23 of 27 field goal attempts. ... Texas’ highest major offensive ranking (50th in passing) was worse than its lowest defensive ranking (49th in scoring). ... The Longhorns play six of their final eight games in Texas, with its last game at Waco, a change made because there is no conference championship game ... Madisonville’s Chris Whaley, a sophomore, has moved from tailback to h-back to defensive end.

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College Football 2011

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Friday, September 2, 2011 AggieSports.com

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AggieSports.com Friday, September 2, 2011 College Football 2011

HOME OF THE

SALES EVENT

Thank You Brazos Valley for selecting Atkinson Toyota as the Best Car Dealership 6 Years in a Row and Best Auto Repair Shop by The Eagle Readers’ Choice.

Thank you for putting your trust and confidence in the Associates of Atkinson Toyota Scion. We look forward to many more years of servicing your needs.

ATKINSON TOYOTA 936-349-0909 • 1-877-349-0909 • 204 I-45 SOUTH • MADISONVILLE BRYAN • 728 N. EARL RUDDER FWY • 979-776-0404 • 1-877-824-0404

MON – FRI 8:00-8:00 & SAT 9:00-7:00 • BRYAN SERVICE HOURS MON – SAT 7:00-1:00/2:00-6:00

YOUR BUCKET LIST

JUST GOT SHORTER

12.11.11

Join us as runners from across the state embark on a 13.1 or 26.2 mile journey through the streets of Bryan, College Station, and Texas A&M University. Visit bcsmarathon.com for more details.

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