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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Going bowling

 
 

Before the 2004 season started, the Texas A&M football team set some goals for itself after going 4-8 last year. Chief among these goals was not only to make a bowl appearance, but also to win a bowl game.
Having achieved several of the goals set, such as having a record over .500 and making improvements on offense and defense, the team’s final test is scheduled for the Cotton Bowl Jan. 1, 2005.
“We’re not satisfied with just simply going to the Cotton Bowl,” said junior free safety Jaxson Appel. “I mean that’s a tremendous deal for us, but one of our goals was to go to a bowl game and win, and that’s what we’re focused on right now.”
The No. 22 A&M squad (7-4) will face the No. 15 Tennessee Volunteers (9-3) in the New Year’s Day bowl game.
Having come from UT conference rival Alabama, A&M head coach Dennis Franchione and his coaching staff are familiar with how the Tennessee program is run. A&M defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, whose hometown is Knoxville, Tenn., also has experience with the Volunteers.
“I know a whole lot about them, it’s where I’m from, it’s where I spent most of my time when I got a day off,” Torbush said. “A lot of the coaches I’m really close to. They’re a top team in the country 10 of the last 15 years.”
Tennessee has been affected by player injuries this year, and will be down to its third-string quarterback, Rick Clausen. The junior signal caller is 2-1 in his starts, coming in behind freshmen Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge, who were sidelined with injuries.
Torbush said a chance at the SEC championship after so much restructuring of the lineup is a true testament to the depth and talent of the Tennessee team.
“They are tremendous athletes; they expect to win a lot of ballgames,” he said. “Fulmer is a guy who came up the dirt road and worked hard to get to where he is. He is probably as good of an offensive line coach as I’ve ever been around, and he carried that over to offensive coordinator and then head coach.”
Other leaders for the Vols include free safety Jason Allen, who leads the SEC with 9.8 tackles per game this season. Standout senior tailback Cedric Houston is 57 yards away from his second consecutive 1,000-yard season behind running back Gerald Riggs, whose 182 rushing yards in the SEC championship put him over the century mark for the season.
A&M offensive coordinator Les Koenning expects a tough game with Tennessee but is confident about the coaching staff’s knowledge of the Tennessee program in preparation for the game.
“We were there at Alabama, and the two years we were there, against Tennessee, we won one and lost one,” Koenning said. “Defensively, they’re very similar to what we do. They’re going to come at you from different ways. They like to man blitz, they like to zone blitz, they like to blitz. The schemes are similar, which will help us in practice. The speed of the game will show up.”
Junior quarterback Reggie McNeal said the fact that this is a nationally televised game in the state of Texas is inspiring for him and the team.
“It’ll be special because we’re in a bowl game, we missed out the last two years,” McNeal said. “We just have to be ready to play, set the stage going into next year.”

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