Aggies rise, shine over Cyclones

Zac Reicks

Defense wins games.

Defense wins championships.

While Texas A&M did not have a championship on the line in Saturday’s game versus Iowa State, the Aggie defense played like this was a game they could not afford to lose.

After a few suspect outings against teams such as UTEP and Baylor, coupled with a loss to 1-6 Colorado, A&M was in a position where another defensive collapse could put its team’s post-season hopes in severe jeopardy.

With games against Kansas State, Oklahoma and intrastate rival Texas looming on the horizon, the Aggies that showed without a shadow of a doubt, that they were not overlooking a much improved Cyclone team.

Before the season began, senior linebacker and Butkas award nominee Jason Glenn said that this team’s defense was better than the “Wrecking Crew” defenses of past Aggie teams.

Saturday’s performance certainly would have made Dat Nguyen and company proud as they limited an explosive Cyclone attack to 239 total yards on the day.

“We came into the game with a lot of respect for their offense,” said Texas A&M coach R. C. Slocum.

“I thought the defense was well prepared and played with a lot of emotion.”

Returning every starter from last year’s front seven, the Aggie defensive lineman and linebacker’s consistently shut down whatever little offense Iowa State tried to produce. A&M’s linebackers continually beat would-be Cyclone blockers to the hole on nearly every play and helped to hold Big 12 leading rusher Ennis Haywood to a mere 75 yards on 19 carries.

The front four of Texas A&M’s defense were also instrumental in helping to keep Cyclone quarterback Sage Rosenfels in check nearly the entire game.

Led by sophomore Ty Warren, the Aggie defensive line produced enough pressure on the quarterback, allowing the defense to drop seven people into coverage and hold Iowa State to only 137 passing yards on the day.

Special teams also played a key role in the outcome of Saturday’s game as a blocked punt by cornerback Jay Brooks on Iowa State’s first possession set up the Aggies at the Cyclone 5 yard line and basically set the tone for the rest of the game.

“I think getting off to a good start like that was very important because we didn’t let the crowd get into the game,” Slocum said.

“Our defense did a great job of making a big play, and our offense did a good job of putting the ball into the end zone and getting us the lead.”

An Aggie rushing attack that has had a hard time establishing themselves this season finally got something going on Saturday as they racked up 227 yards on the ground.

Filling in for injured tailback Richard Whitaker, Joe Weber led the way with 106 yards on the ground and helped A&M keep the ball out of Rosenfels hands by controlling the time of possession.

Aggie quarterback Mark Farris peppered the Cyclone secondary with a strong arm that delivered strikes on both short and deep passes.

The 25 year old former minor leaguer baseball player accounted for three A&M touchdowns on the day with one on the ground and two in the air.

After catching a 76-yard touchdown pass, speedster Dwain Goynes also dropped a Farris bomb that would have been a sure touchdown after he made the Cyclone secondary look a step slower than A&M receivers, an occurence which happened all day.

“We need to come out and play like that every week,” Farris said.

“When we scored the crowd got pretty quite, and to be able to run the ball for 4, 5, and 6 yards a pop really demoralized their defense, and also set the tone for the entire game.”