The Texas A&M offense is obviously the main reason why the Aggies surprised the entire country by going 10-2 in their first season in the SEC. The Aggies finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in both scoring offense (44.8 points per game) and total offense (552.3 yards per game). The Aggies' freshman, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel is what makes the Aggies click offensively. However, the Aggies are much more than just Manziel as far as offensive weapons are concerned.
The A&M offensive line is one of the best in the country, anchored by tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Running backs Ben Malena and Christine Michael have combined to rush for over 1,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. Manziel also has plenty of targets out wide to throw to. Eight receivers have caught a touchdown pass this year, while three, Mike Evans, Ryan Swope, and Uzoma Nwachukwu, each have at least five touchdown receptions. Evans leads the team with 75 catches for 1,022 yards, while Swope leads the team with seven touchdown receptions.
Manziel is an accurate passer, but he's a more accomplished runner than a passer. Against LSU, he threw three interceptions. One of those was off a deflection by one of his receivers, but the other two were due to poor decisions. Manziel isn't perfect, but he has improved a lot since that LSU game. After all, he was never a serious Heisman candidate until well after that Oct. 20 game.
The Sooners are going to have their hands full with the A&M offense, particularly Manziel. In the Bob Stoops era, the Sooners have struggled some when dealing with dual-threat quarterbacks, but it hasn't been to the degree some people have made it out to be. The Sooners' most famous loss to a dual-threat quarterback coincidentally came against the Aggies back in 2002, when quarterback Reggie McNeal came off the bench to throw for 191 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 89 more yards. West Virginia's Pat White shredded the Sooners for 150 of the Mountaineers 354 rushing yards in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, a 48-28 WVU romp.
Texas A&M Offensive Statistics
-44.8 points per game (No. 3),
-552.3 total yards per game (No. 3), 235.1 rush yards per game (No. 13), 317.2 pass yards per game (No. 14)
-6.9 yards per play
-55% third down conversions (No. 1)
-Johnny Manziel- 1,181 rushing yards, 19 TDs, 98.4 yds/game, 3,419 passing yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 68.2 comp.%, 284.9 yds/game- No. 2 in nation in total offense per game
-Ben Malena- 752 rushing yards, 7 TDs
-Christine Michael- 417 rush yards, 12 TDs
-Mike Evans- 75 catches, 1,022 yards, 5 TDs
-Ryan Swope- 64 catches, 809 yards, 7 TDs
-Uzoma Nwachukwu- 23 catches, 404 yards, 6 TDs
Eight receivers have caught a TD pass
The Aggies defense has been up and down all season, but hasn't been on the same level as the elite SEC defenses such as Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina. The Aggies ranked No. 30 in the country in scoring defense (22.5 points per game) and No. 38 in rushing defense (140.9 yards per game). However, problems in the secondary hampered the Aggies overall defensive rankings. Texas A&M finished the regular season No. 79 in pass defense, giving up almost 250 yards per game through the air. Overall, the Aggies ranked No. 56 in total defense, giving up a total of 390 yards per game this season.
Those yardage numbers are slightly bloated thanks to a couple games that got out of hand early. Against Arkansas, Missouri and Sam Houston State, the Aggies jumped out to big leads and coasted the rest of the way, allowing the opponents to rack up a lot of yardage in the later stages of the game. The Aggies also gave up 615 total yards in a 59-57 shootout against Louisiana Tech back on Oct. 13. Those four games have inflated the amount of yards opponents have been gaining on A&M this season, but either way, Texas A&M boasts a good, but not great defense.
The Aggies are led by Damontre Moore, a defensive end widely expected to go in the first round of April's NFL Draft. Moore plays a lot like former Aggie and current Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller. However, Moore is bigger than Miller was while in College Station and not quite as quick off the line of scrimmage. The trio of Jonathan Stewart, Sean Porter, and Steven Jenkins at linebacker is solid in the middle of the field, ranking second, fourth, and third on the team in tackles, respectively, behind Moore's team-leading 80 stops this season.
In the secondary, Deshazor Everett leads the team with two interceptions, including the game-clincher against Alabama. Steven Terrell also has two picks, while Dustin Harris has 10 pass break-ups this season.
The Sooners should be able to exploit the A&M defense if the offensive line can hold together through just one more game. OU's depth has been shredded thanks to injuries and for sure won't have sophomore tackle Daryl Williams due to a right knee sprain suffered against West Virginia Nov. 17. OU head coach Bob Stoops made the official announcement on Williams Friday afternoon. If Oklahoma can protect Landry Jones and open up some holes for the running backs to run through, the Sooners shouldn't have any problems scoring points against the Aggies.
Texas A&M Defensive Statistics
-22.5 points allowed (No. 30)
-389.3 total yards per game (No. 56), 140.9 rush yards per game (No. 38), 248.4 pass yards per game (No. 79)
-5.3 yards per play
-30 sacks- T-29th
-Damontre Moore- 80 tackles, 20 TFL, 12.5 sacks
-Jonathan Stewart- 72 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks
-Steven Jenkins- 70 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks
-Sean Porter- 60 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks
-Deshazor Everett- 2 INT, 7 break-ups, 9 passes defended
-Dustin Harris- 10 break-ups, 10 passes defended