Aggies prepare to face No. 20 Baylor’s Griffin

Texas A&M has allowed two quarterbacks to set school records

for passing against its nation’s worst pass defense this

season.

This week the 21st-ranked Aggies are in for another challenge

when they face No. 20 Baylor and star quarterback Robert Griffin

III. Griffin is the second most efficient passer in the nation and

his 360 yards of total offense a game rank fifth.

The Aggies allowed Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and Arkansas

quarterback Tyler Wilson to set school passing records against them

and are yielding almost 348 yards passing a game.

When Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter was asked

about the challenged Griffin presents this week, he shook his head

and chuckled before answering.

”I think he’s a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate,” DeRuyter

said. ”He affects the game and is as important to his team as

anyone in the country. The way he can stress the defense by moving

in the pocket or running the football, he’s an extremely difficult

person to try to defend. Our guys understand that and we’ll be up

for the challenge.”

Though the Aggies have certainly worried about Griffin in past

meetings, they’re much more concerned with him this season because

of his increased passing accuracy.

”He’s throwing at an 82-percent efficiency,” Texas A&M

coach Mike Sherman said. ”He has one interception and 19

touchdowns. Last year he had 22 for the whole season. He’s hitting

on all cylinders. His accuracy as a quarterback has been the

biggest thing. They are a big downfield play-action team this

year.”

But the Aggies know better than to ignore his skill as a runner

after he had a 71-yard touchdown run against them last year in a

42-30 win by A&M. The 92 yards rushing he had last season

against A&M were the second most he had all year.

”He’s a very fast player and we’re going to have to try to

contain him,” senior defensive back Terrence Frederick said.

Sherman, the former Green Bay Packers coach, compared Griffin to

an NFL quarterback known for his versatility.

”Anytime the ball is in his hands he can throw it for a

touchdown or run it for a touchdown,” he said. ”So you have to

respect both aspects of his play. When he starts to run he’s like

Michael Vick. You don’t know what to expect. He’s more accurate,

actually.”

Griffin’s speed and willingness to run the ball makes blitzing

him a scary proposition. But DeRuyter said the Aggies won’t change

their game plan drastically because of the opponent.

”We’re going to do what we do,” he said ”You have to be

judicious with someone like him. We’re going to mix things up. I

think you have to do something to disrupt him. When he’s

comfortable in the pocket he’s extremely accurate. We have to do

some things to get him out of his comfort zone, and that’s

hopefully through some disguised coverage and some pressure.”

DeRuyter has noticed an increased confidence in the Bears this

season and he’s hoping his defense can find that kind of confidence

soon. The Aggies were struggling after two straight losses where

they gave up big first half leads, but bounced back with a 45-40

win over previously undefeated Texas Tech.

DeRuyter has been trying to stress to his team the importance of

forcing turnovers with the Aggies ranked 119th in the country in

the category after forcing just three this season.

”We’ve been horrible this year,” DeRuyter said of their

inability to cause turnovers. ”The other day we were close on four

different plays. We had two passes hit us in the hands. Twice we

get sacks on the quarterback, the ball is out and we weren’t there

to get it. You can have momentum-changing plays when you get

takeaways, and I think we’re really close right now … it will

continue to be an emphasis for us.”

The Aggies plan to have a one player on defense in specifically

in charge of keeping tabs on Griffin on each play on Saturday. So

far, DeRuyter hasn’t decided who that will be. He joked that he

wished he could bring back a former player for the job.

”I’d probably make a call to the 303 area code and try and get

No. 40 back here,” DeRuyter said referring to former A&M

linebacker/defensive end Von Miller, who was taken by Denver with

the second overall pick in this year’s draft. ”I don’t know. We

are in the middle of discussions right now. He’s a guy you have to

take account for. He’s a game changer. We’ll have a plan for

it.”