Texas A&M wants to avoid 2004 repeat, starting with Oklahoma St

Friday, October 20th 2006, 5:30 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Texas A&M has been here before, with a 6-1 record, coming off a big conference win, going on the road to play a team it has traditionally been ahead of in the Big 12 South Division pecking order.

In 2004, the season quickly unraveled for the Aggies, as a loss to unheralded Baylor began a stretch during which they lost 4 of their last 5 games. But coach Dennis Franchione thinks the script will be different this season for #23 Texas A&M (2-1 Big 12), starting with a visit Saturday to Oklahoma State (4-2, 1-1).

Franchione said this year's Texas A&M team is ``more grounded'' than the 2004 squad, which he described as ``almost a little bit giddy'' after its 6-1 start.

Still, just to make sure history doesn't repeat itself, Franchione addressed his players Sunday, a day after the Aggies ended then #19 Missouri's unbeaten run with a 25-19 win over the Tigers.

``My comment to them ... was that there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance and when you cross the line, you usually pay a price,'' Franchione said. ``And this team right now, I thought I felt like I needed as a head coach to talk about that. I did that maybe to make myself feel better more than for them to really have to hear it.

``We understand that we're a few plays better right now and we've got to keep fighting our tail off and preparing well. That is a compliment to the leaders on this team and a compliment to the team and their maturity in this situation.''

The win over Missouri propelled the Aggies into the top 25 for the first time since the 2005 preseason poll and quieted, for a week, at least, rumblings that Franchione's job might be in jeopardy.

``We're not worried about the number on our name,'' quarterback Stephen McGee said. ``We've just got to focus on us and what we have to do to get better.''

Discontent was bubbling at Oklahoma State, too, after the Cowboys followed a 3-0 start with losses at Houston and Kansas State. In the latter game, Oklahoma State led by 10 points before surrendering 2 touchdowns in the final 3:04.

Oklahoma State rebounded last Saturday with a 42-32 win at Kansas, rallying from a 17-0 3rd quarter deficit thanks in good part to wide receiver Adarius Bowman, who caught 13 passes for 300 yards (the 11th best total in NCAA Division I history) and 4 touchdowns.

Still, Bowman said he doesn't expect more double teams, and not just because the Cowboys have another solid receiver, D'Juan Woods.

``I guess there's a chance that could happen, but it's kind of hard to double team a person that plays in the slot,'' Bowman said.

Quarterback Bobby Reid threw for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns against Kansas and has a 17-5 touchdown to interception ratio this season, after posting a 2-4 ratio last season. The Cowboys rank 2nd in the Big 12 in scoring offense at 38.2 points a game and 2nd in total offense at 432.2 yards per game.

``People have been pushing the panic button on me,'' Reid said. ``People were starting to turn their backs on me, which was cool. I wasn't going to let that stop me or slow me down.

``Now that I'm doing good, and we seem to be moving along real good, people are starting to turn their heads back toward me. That just comes with the territory of college football.''

As good as Oklahoma State's offense has been, its defense has been equally inconsistent and lost one of its best players when freshman linebacker Chris Collins suffered a season ending knee injury against Kansas.

The Cowboys rank 9th in the Big 12 in rushing defense, a concern considering 6 foot, 276 pound Texas A&M running back Jorvorskie Lane already has a league high 14 rushing touchdowns this season. Lane rushed 28 times for 127 yards and a touchdown in the win over Missouri.

``He is playing really well right now,'' Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. ``That is good news for them but not for everybody else in the league.''

Oklahoma State, which will be playing its first home game in five weeks, already has equaled its win total from last season. Gundy, in his second season, said the Cowboys feel like they can win any game, something that wasn't necessarily the case in 2005.

``That's where we want to be,'' he said. ``When we go on the field Saturday, if we play well, we're running the ball, we play hard, limit our turnovers and make big plays, we can win the football game.''