Texas A&M scouting report
Led by quarterback Jerrod Johnson (left, 6-5, 245LB), the Aggies opened the season with wins over Stephen F. Austin (48-7) and Louisiana Tech (48-16). Johnson is an incredible athlete that can run and pass well.
Passing: 53-78 for 671 yards and 6 TDs
Rushing: 17 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD.
Johnson's 68 percent accuracy rating makes him a dangerous threat through the air. The Golden Panthers' secondary will need to adjust accordingly. This is not the Rutgers team FIU faced last weekend. Texas A&M has the capacity to move the ball in big chunks. Johnson has carved up the two defenses he has faced, torching SFA for 322 yards and LT for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
Against Louisiana Tech, Johnson connected with WR Jeff Fuller (his favorite target) 10 times for 160 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, the Aggies have split carries between running backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. In two games, Michael has 212 yards on 36 carries and two scores. Back up running back Gray has 29 attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown.
The Aggies' defense is another story all together. After finishing 105th in total defense last season, Texas A&M decided to hire former Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. At Air Force, DeRuyter's defense was ranked 11th in the NCAA in total defense and seventh in interceptions. In their first two games, the Aggies defense has been effective. Linebacker Garrick Williams is leading the team with 16 total tackles. Defensive lineman Damontre Moore has 12 tackles, including three sacks for 19 yards. The Aggies have limited opponents to just 92 yards rushing.
FIU scouting report
Coach Mario Cristobal announced earlier this week that Wesley Carroll (left) will start the game at QB. As you might recall, Carroll and Wayne Younger split time against Rutgers. Cristobal said he might still use Younger if he feels Younger can bring a different look to the offense. I would not be surprised if Younger makes an appearance against Texas A&M.
The Aggies' defense has been tough against the run, but susceptible to the pass. Louisiana Tech had 208 yards passing against Texas A&M. The Panthers will need to be able to pass the ball well. It is important for the Panthers to get off to a fast start on Saturday. After a weeks worth of watching film, I feel the FIU offense will have a chance to move the ball against Texas A&M. It is imperative FIU limits the penalties and turnovers. Texas A&M might not be as forgiving as Rutgers was with the turnovers.
Look for the Panthers to try and find a big pass play down field. One of Louisiana Tech's touchdowns last week came on a long pass.
The true test for FIU will be stopping Johnson. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has his guys buying into his new defensive philosophies and so far it has paid off. Look for FIU to try and confuse Johnson with different defensive schemes. If FIU can limit Johnson, the Golden Panthers might just walk out of College Station with a win.
The Golden Panthers travel to Texas as 28 point road underdogs this weekend. Out of FIU's first-four games, this one might be the toughest. The Aggies pack over 77,000 fans into Kyle Field and the place gets loud. I expect the Golden Panthers' inexperience playing in such a hostile environment will contribute offensive miscues. The Texas A&M offense will be limited at first by the Panthers' defense but after halftime the Aggies will find their rhythm and make the game out of reach. Texas A&M 31-14.
Even though I feel the Aggies will prevail, there is still the possibility FIU can catch Texas A&M off guard. The Aggies play a big conference game Sept. 30 at Oklahoma State and the look ahead effect might come into play here. The Aggies have already played two non-conference games and I suspect they are itching to play the Cowboys. If the Golden Panthers' defense can stun Johnson early, Texas A&M might not be able to recover. The Golden Panthers will need to turn this game into a defensive battle to win. FIU cannot win a shootout.