Aggies O-Line key against Florida, SEC
September, 5, 2012
By Sam Khan Jr. | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherTexas A&M's veteran offensive line is the strength of the Aggies' offense.COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Several words have been used to describe Florida's defense and particularly, its defensive line.
Fast. Athletic. Big. Violent.
Texas A&M players and coaches appear to agree on at least one thing involving the Gators defense, including their defensive front.
"They're good," junior offensive tackle Jake Matthews said. "They're big guys, they're fast, they're talented. We're definitely going to have a challenge up front. We're really going to have to step up as a group and focus on the little details, making the calls and staying on top of everything. They have a lot of talented players, that's for sure, so it'll definitely be a good game."
Fortunately for the Aggies, their most significant strength is their offensive line. The quintet of starters --Matthews, tackle Luke Joeckel, guards Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi and center Patrick Lewis -- have combined to start 92 games in their respective Texas A&M careers.
For a team that will trot out a first-year quarterback, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, it's a benefit, especially against a team with the speed and depth that the Gators have.
"Our offensive line I think as anybody can see is probably the strength of our football program," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "Whenever you have a young quarterback or you have a situation where a backup quarterback goes in, it's not necessarily about the quarterback as it is about the other 10 players that let him grow as a player.
"If you had your druthers and said you have an inexperienced line and an experienced quarterback, you'd lean toward having an experienced line and an inexperienced quarterback, particularly going into the league that we're going into. They give us a chance to be successful with their experience, their size and experience in big games."
That group will be a key for the Aggies throughout the season as they face large, athletic defenses similar to the one Florida will trot out, which was ranked eighth nationally in total defense last season.
After seeing them play Bowling Green, Aggies offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury came away impressed.
"They’re better than last year even, which is impressive," Kingsbury said. "Violent up front, a great D-Line, a secondary that can get down in your face and cover you up and attack. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
Could it be the best defense the Aggies have faced?
"I don't know. It's hard to say that," Joeckel said. "They look good on film. I'll be able to tell you after we play them. We have to play hard against them. Our offensive line, we've got an experienced group and we'll have to play our best game."
Matthews said these are the kind of matchups that excite him.
"I came here to play against the good players," Matthews said. "Now that we're in the SEC, we've got an even better chance of doing that, going against the teams that have been real consistent at winning and doing well every year. So, we want to play the best players, but it's going to be a huge challenge for us. That's what we look forward to, so we're excited for it."
Section Of Kyle Field Imploded For Renovations
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
Final Cincinnati 17 Virginia Tech 33 Final 15 Arizona State 36 Duke 31 Final Miami (FL) 21 South Carolina 24 Final/OT Boston College 30 Penn State 31 Final Nebraska 42 24 USC 45
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State