The Norman Transcript

January 1, 2013

Just another opponent

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

IRVING, Texas — Texas A&M just wrapped its first season in the SEC and there’s little doubt it’s the toughest conference in college football.

However, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder admitted the Aggies will see something they have not seen all season on Friday in the AT&T Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.

“This is the best group we have faced,” Snyder said about the Sooners. “As a group this is the best group of receivers we have faced this year as a whole. It is a heck of a challenge. It (the height advantage of OU’s wide receivers) could be an issue, there is no doubt. Jalen Summers isn’t very long, but he is quick. He is pretty good.”

Texas A&M has only faced two teams that rank in the top 40 in passing offense this season. The Aggies dominated Arkansas (No. 21) in a 58-10 victory on Sept. 29. However, Louisana Tech (No. 3) threw for 450 yards when the teams met on Oct. 13. The Aggies still won, 59-57.

Same players, different scheme: Just about all of OU’s offensive players went against Texas A&M last season. It’s the same case with the Aggie defenders. The biggest change is Texas A&M switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 alignment this season.

“It’s actually pretty different with that four-man front but they’re very versatile on defense. They can jump back into that three-man front that they’ve run for a while,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “They give you all kinds of different looks that are difficult to adjust to and you’ve just got to be able to diagnose what defense they’re running and make your defense and calls. They’re definitely a difficult matchup on defense with all the different looks.”

Little animosity: OU coach Bob Stoops said on Sunday that OU seems to have a lot of rivals. Wide receiver Kenny Stills said on Monday that facing Texas A&M was never high on his rivalry list.

“I don’t think there was much,” OU wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “There may have been more between the boosters and coaching staff. For us, we are out here to play and you take it for what it is. The only thing different about this game is that we are familiar with Texas A&M because they were once in our conference.”

No fear: OU hasn’t played an SEC team since facing Florida in the 2008 national championship game. Wide receiver Justin Brown doesn’t buy the notion that conference affiliation changes teams.

“At the end of the day, they’re another team. They put their cleats on just like we do,” he said about Texas A&M. “Just make sure you go out and do the right things you need to do against the person across from you to get the job done. As long as you have that approach, everything’s gonna fall in place.”

Healing up: OU needed to the five-week break between the end of the regular season and the bowl game to heal some aching bodies. Ikard said there’s still some offensive linemen who aren’t 100 percent but guys are moving around much better.

He said guard Adam Shead, who played most of the season with an ankle injury, is moving around like he did in September.

“He looked really good in practice yesterday,” Ikard said. “There were no noticeable problems and that was good. We needed that time off. It’s good to have some guys healthy.”

Meet the Heisman winners: Prior to Friday’s AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, two Heisman Trophy winners will be available for autographs at Cowboys Stadium. OU’s 1978 Heisman winner Billy Sims and Texas A&M Heisman winner John David Crow (1958) will be available for fans from 4-5 p.m. at the LG/AT&T Huddle Up located on the plazas at Cowboys Stadium.

OU fans can meet Sims at the west side plaza. Crow will be on the east side.

John ShinnFollow me @john_shinnjshinn@normantranscript.com

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