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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Tempo, pace the words for Aggies offense

By Sam Khan Jr.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- One of the buzz words used this offseason and particularly during fall training camp around Texas A&M football is "tempo."

That is one of the key components in the Aggies' new offensive scheme, and it also became a signature of their offseason workout program under director of sports performance Larry Jackson in the weight room.

But on the field, particularly on the offensive side, how are the players responding to practicing at a faster pace in fall camp after getting a dose of it in the spring?

Sophomore guard Cedric Ogbuehi said it takes some getting used to.

"This spring really helped us a lot, so we got used to it," Ogbuehi said. "Really now, we really are adjusted to it and we all like it a lot so it's not really as hard as it was this spring."

Through the first few practices, offensive line coach B.J. Anderson sees the team getting comfortable with it.

"Coming out of the summer program as a staff, we're really pleased with now how they're executing the tempo," Anderson said. "We've got to keep getting better, but for three days of insertion, we're pleased."

The Aggies aren't unfamiliar with going up-tempo. Offensively, they've averaged a similar amount of offensive plays per game in recent years to what Houston did under coach Kevin Sumlin. In 2011, the Aggies actually averaged more plays per game (80.2) than the Cougars did (78.2).

However, the difference is the rate at which they reached those numbers. Houston did it faster, running a play every 20.2 seconds last year. Texas A&M, on average, ran a play every 21.2 seconds. On average over the last four years, the Cougars ran plays every 19-20 seconds while the Aggies did so around every 22 seconds, except for 2008, when it was once 25.9 seconds.

When it comes to reaching a certain number of plays, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said that he doesn't have a set number in mind.

"Just whatever it takes to win," Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury said that because Texas A&M had success offensively a year ago (the Aggies ranked seventh nationally in total offense), the changes on the offensive side haven't been drastic.

"We're getting there," he said. "I've said all along, I thought coach (Mike) Sherman, they obviously did a great job on offense. They were top 10 (nationally). Conceptually in the pass game, very similar and they did some things with tempo, so it wasn't just some wholesale change. And they're used to scoring points and being good so that's really helped us coming in."

Senior receiver Ryan Swope, who set Texas A&M school records last season for catches and receiving yards, is a believer in what the offensive coaches are trying to accomplish.

"What they did at Houston was an incredible offense and a great scheme," Swope said. "I'm excited just to learn new knowledge and absorb the coaching. We've got great coaches on the staff and with a great offense and a fast tempo, it'll be interesting to see how these defenses adapt to that fast-tempo offense."