November 6, 2008

Freshmen key Aggies' improvement

Texas A&M might be 4-5 as it heads into its final home game with No. 6 Oklahoma Saturday at Kyle Field, but there is no doubt the Aggies are improving. After an 18-14 loss to start the season to Arkansas State, the Aggies have steadily gotten better and now ride their first two-game winning streak of the season into the showdown with Sooners.

A large part of the improvement is due to underclassmen, particularly freshmen. A&M head coach Mike Sherman has had no qualms about throwing freshmen into the fire, and they're responding in a big way.

In A&M's 24-17 win over Colorado last Saturday, 78.5-percent of A&M's 308 yards of offense was generated by underclassmen while just seven yards were gained by a senior. Besides sophomore quarterback Jerrod Johnson, freshmen Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray accumulated the most yardage. Fuller and Tannehill accounted for all three of Johnson's touchdown passes while Gray had a career-high 80 yards while starting for injured junior Mike Goodson.

Defensively, true freshman free safety Trent Hunter had two fourth quarter interceptions to up his total to three, which leads the Aggies. His final interception was on Colorado's last drive that basically sealed the A&M win.

"They played a significant part when you talk about Trent Hunter's two interceptions and Jeff Fuller's two touchdowns. Tannehill obviously played well," Sherman said. "And then other guys like (Tony) Jerod-Eddie and different guys, so they played a big part in it as did the other kids. It was a team win, but those three guys in particular made some big plays."

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