Texas A&M Aggies hoping to avoid 0-2 start

Posted Thursday, Sep. 04, 2008  comments  Print Reprints

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It's been a rough week in Aggieland.

There was plenty of blame to pass around in the wake of Texas A&M's humbling 18-14 loss to Arkansas State, which had lost its previous 14 games against Big 12 opponents. Coach Mike Sherman shouldered much of it, pointing to his own play calls in key situations and saying he felt like he let the Aggies fans down in his disappointing debut.

"We're all in this thing together," Sherman said. "No one player lost. ... We all were involved in this loss, and when we play at home we should win these football games. There were no excuses. Along the same lines, we have to be accountable and honest when we look at the tapes, identify the mistakes and let's not be defensive. Let's fix what needs to be fixed."

With the first road trip of the season on deck this week, the corrections better come quickly.

Week 1 rewind

The good news: Mike Goodson proved he's ready to be the Aggies' feature back by rushing 24 times for 124 yards, just 3 yards short of his career high, and scoring two first-half touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 30 yards.

The bad news: The second half was a total disaster offensively. A&M managed only 103 total yards, including just 9 rushing yards, and four first downs while committing a string of costly mistakes. The Aggies lost four turnovers, were sacked three times and missed a 25-yard field goal. They were 2-of-8 on third-down conversions and averaged 3.6 yards per play after averaging 5.9 in the first half.

What they said: "The bottom line is we should not be losing to Arkansas State." -- Athletic director Bill Byrne in his weekly blog.

This week's matchup

Texas A&M (0-1, 0-0 Big 12) at New Mexico (0-1, 0-1 Mountain West)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque

TV/Radio: Versus/KFXR 1190-AM

The line: The Aggies are a 3-point favorite

Three things to watch

1. The front line: After a strong start last week, the Aggies' offensive line struggled when Arkansas State turned up the pressure. They haven't seen anything yet. The Lobos employ a much more aggressive defense. Sherman said they are "very problematic in their scheme" because they use a variety of blitzes to confuse their opponent. That should present a challenge for an A&M line that played three first-time starters in the opener. New Mexico gave up some points in a 26-3 loss to TCU because of poor field position, but the Lobos surrendered only 291 total yards.

2. Run defense. The Aggies gave up way too many big runs last week. Arkansas State rolled up 280 rushing yards, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt, and collected 15 of its 23 first downs on runs. New Mexico's Rodney Ferguson has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons but was held to 64 yards by a tough TCU defense.

3. The kicking question. After senior Richie Bean missed two chip-shot attempts, Sherman said freshman walk-on Randy Bullock would have gotten the call if last week's game had come down to a late field goal. But Sherrnan didn't name a starter for Week 2, saying that would be decided this week in practice. A&M needs to find a reliable option because it's apparent that the Aggies are going to need every point they can get, no matter who they're playing.

Did you know?

* UNM president David J. Schmidley was at Texas A&M from 1971-1996 and was CEO of the Galveston campus during his final five years.

* A&M athletic director Bill Byrne was executive director of the Lobo club from 1976-79.

* UNM head coach Rocky Long was the defensive coordinator at UCLA when the Bruins edged the Aggies 29-23 in the 1998 Cotton Bowl.

*Former Aggies coach Dennis Franchione was the head coach at New Mexico from 1992-97.

By the numbers

7 Combined turnovers for A&M and New Mexico in their season openers

10 Aggies true freshmen and redshirt freshmen who played against Arkansas State.

12 Years since A&M opened the season 0-2. The Aggies finished 6-6 in 1996.

What they're saying

"We've got to get it done. We're in a time and age where that's expected to happen immediately. So is there a transition time? Yeah, there is a little transition time. But at the same time, that wasn't part of my contract." -- Coach Mike Sherman on expectations to win now at Texas A&M

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