A&M defensive end Damontre Moore vs. Oklahoma offensive tackles Lane Johnson, Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson
Texas A&M knows firsthand how important it is to get pressure on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. The Aggies frustrated Jones and the Sooners' offense two years ago in a 33-19 victory at Kyle Field as Jones was sacked four times and threw an interception. He passed for 290 yards, but needed 59 attempts. Jones' longest completion was 27 yards.
Former Butkus Award winner Von Miller led the charge in keeping pressure on Jones.
Now it's up to Miller's understudy, junior defensive end Damontre Moore, to do the same. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Moore has been a beast this season. Despite constant double teams, he leads the team in tackles with 80. He has 20 tackles for losses, including 12.5 sacks. This game became even bigger for Moore, who said Sunday night this would be his last collegiate game. He'll enter the NFL Draft.
Moore is a big reason A&M's switch from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 has been so successful. The consensus All-American was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award and a semifinalist for the Lombardi and Chuck Bednarik Awards. A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said Moore deserved to win one of those awards.
Oklahoma's main players in charge of keeping Moore from showing that he should have won one of those awards will be offensive tackles Lane Johnson, Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson -- all former Texas high school standouts.
Johnson (6-7, 303) played quarterback at Groveton. Oklahoma signed him as a tight end out of Kilgore College and tried him at tight end and defensive end before he found a home at left tackle, protecting Jones' blind side. The second-team All-Big 12 pick by the coaches has been selected to play in the East-West Shrine game. Sophomore Williams (6-6, 299) started the first 10 games at right tackle but missed the last two games because of a knee injury. Another sophomore, Thompson (6-5, 303), started the last two games for Williams, and started two games at left tackle midway through the season.
If the OU tackles can contain Moore and others who might blitz off the corner, look for Jones to have a big game. Last year, Jones was 18-of-38 passing for 255 yards with two touchdowns as OU had a 41-10 lead through three quarters en route to a 41-25 victory, the lone blowout loss the Aggies suffered in 2011.
Jones was even better as a freshman against A&M, hitting 24 of 39 for 392 yards with five touchdowns and no sacks in a 65-10 victory.
-- ROBERT CESSNA