TEXAS A&M UNIT ANALYSIS - OFFENSIVE LINEThe offensive line figured to be a strength for A&M, who returned four players who were at least part-time starters in 2005. They have lived up to expectations, leading one of America's most efficient running offenses. The starters are:
QT Yemi Babalola 6'4"/298 (Sophomore)
QG Kirk Elder 6'5/298 (Junior - pictured at left)
C Cody Wallace 6'4"/294 (Junior - pictured below)
SG Grant Dickey 6'5"/315 (Senior)
ST Corey Clark 6'6"/317 (Junior)
The Aggies' offensive success starts with Wallace, named 1st team All-Big 12 by the Austin American-Statesman. He has started 23 straight games and is an excellent run blocker. Think Marvin Philip with a bit less lower body strength (it appears). Elder is an excellent pulling guard who was tabbed by the Statesman and the Houston Chronicle for 1st team honors.
Babalola was a freshman All-America choice in 2005 and elevated his play this year. Clark has a big frame, good hands and excels in pass protection. Dickey, the one non-returning starter, is perhaps a weak link, though he's good enough to be named Honorable Mention All-Big 12 by the AP.
The Aggies are also quite deep up front. Junior guard/center Chris Yoder and RS freshman guard Michael Shumard could start for any number of Big XII or Pac 10 teams, but they're backups with A&M (though Yoder sees lots of time). Alex Kotzur is a senior backing up Clark at ST.
A&M's offensive statistics bear out the effectiveness of this veteran unit. The Aggies are ranked 7th nationally in rushing yardage; the OL surrendered only 17 sacks all season, and A&M ranked third in the nation in time of possession, holding the ball for an average of 33:29 per game. They will represent a very difficult matchup for Cal's front seven, especially if the interior of their line can neutralize Brandon Mebane in the run game.