Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

Aggies hope to keep Sproles under control

October 2, 2004


— Texas A&M;'s resurgent defense isn't too worried about Darren Sproles gaining 100 yards today. The Aggies just hope Kansas State's senior running back doesn't embarrass them and do it in one quarter.

Sproles has gained 100 yards in a quarter seven times in his career, and the Aggies' defense doesn't need any more setbacks after losing its famed Wrecking Crew nickname last year because of ineffective play.

"For a guy his size, he brings the whole package," A&M; defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said. "He's as close to Barry Sanders are you can get. He's done it game in and game out for a number of years without being injured.

"Hopefully, we can keep him behind the line of scrimmage. If he gets out to daylight, we've got problems."

The A&M; defense soured last season in the first year of coach Dennis Franchione's tenure and it started off the same way this season by allowing 582 yards in a season-opening loss to Utah. More recently, the Aggies have looked more like the old Wrecking Crew.

The Aggie defenders don't want Sproles spoiling their recent success in today's Big 12 Conference opener at Kyle Field. The Aggies held Wyoming to 181 total yards and allowed Clemson only 250 yards after losing to Utah.

"We're not going to shut this team down. Darren Sproles is just too good," Franchione said. "We just hope they don't have a record-setting day against us. We hope to contain him somewhat, and then you have to defend the other aspects of their game."

Sproles had a school-record 292 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette, breaking his own single-game total. He's reached 100 yards 21 times in his career, three behind the Big 12 record of 24 by Texas' Ricky Williams.

Sproles hasn't had his big quarters just against weaker teams. He ripped off a personal-best 130 fourth-quarter yards against Oklahoma last season. He's also gained 100 yards in quarters against Baylor, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette.

"He's one of the premier backs in the country for the past two seasons," safety Jaxon Appel said. "He's going to be playing on Sunday in a couple of years. I'd rather tackle a guy 6-4, 240, than Sproles (5-7, 180). He's so fast and not very tall. He can go around you or he can go through you."

Keeping Sproles to short gains will be the defensive goal.

"It's going to be a challenge," safety Erik Mayes said. "It's going to be more of a linebacker thing. I'd rather see somebody like (linebacker) Justin Warren come up and make 10 tackles than me getting 10 tackles against this offense."

Still, Franchione saw enough of Sproles in Kansas State's Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma last season to give him nightmares.

"They pitched the ball to him and he rolled and I thought Oklahoma had him," Franchione said. "It seemed like eight Oklahoma players around him and the next thing I knew, he broke out of the pack and scored a touchdown.

"He found something that I didn't see. His ability to turn on the jets and hit that hole -- wow."

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