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College Football
Ivan Maisel
October 20, 1997
Any Other Questions? Oklahoma State's Bob Simmons has the answers, Georgia exposed by the Volunteers, Texas A&M on the rebound
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October 20, 1997

College Football

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After all, their coach has proved to be an expert in making the most out of a disappointment. "People keep asking me about the job," Simmons said last week in answer to yet one more query about his feelings toward Colorado. "All I can say is, 'Hey, I got the job. I got this job.' "

The Latest Paper Tiger

Two weeks ago Iowa took a 4-0 record and some amazing offensive stats to Ohio State. But those numbers were built on the soft ground of weak competition, and the Hawkeyes collapsed against the Buckeyes, losing 23-7. Last week Georgia rode four consecutive victories, all at home, and some impressive defensive numbers into Tennessee and suffered a similar fate. Final score: Tennessee 38, Georgia 13. It's obvious Jim Donnan, the Bulldogs' second-year coach, still has much work ahead.

Donnan said last summer that his defense would have to prevent the big play, especially on third down, if Georgia was to begin its climb back to respectability. The Bulldogs arrived in Knoxville having allowed only 212.5 yards and 6.3 points per game, but at the first sign of adversity they reverted to the mediocrity that has been their trademark in recent years. "Tennessee manhandled us up front and controlled the game," Donnan said.

In setting a school record of 35 first downs, Tennessee converted seven of nine third downs. Vols freshman tailback Jamal Lewis, an Atlanta native, rushed 22 times for 232 yards—12 more than Georgia had given up on the ground in its first four games combined. Peyton Manning completed 31 of 40 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns. He was sacked once.

A Cut Above

Texas A&M offensive coordinator Steve Marshall walked into a College Station barbershop on Oct. 7 and got a "Corps cut." Marshall had promised his players that he would subject himself to the crew 'do worn by the school's Cadet Corps if the Aggies rushed for at least 250 yards at Colorado on Oct. 4. They reached that figure with 10 yards to spare in their 16-10 victory over the Buffaloes. "I'm just happy I had the opportunity to lose the bet," Marshall says. "My wife just shook her head and kept on walking."

With a 56-17 rout of Iowa State last Saturday, the 5-0 Aggies made it clear that they've rebounded from last year's 6-6 record. Coach R.C. Slocum gambled during the off-season by replacing four assistants, including both coordinators. Nothing disrupts a team like an overhaul of the coaching staff, yet Slocum obviously made the right decision. Under new defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who won a national championship ring in the same job at Colorado in 1990, Texas A&M has allowed only four touchdowns and hasn't given up a play longer than 38 yards. Last season it allowed 30 TDs, 12 of which covered al least 25 yards.

The Aggies' special teams have national leaders in nearly every category. Placekicker Kyle Bryant, a College Station native who is named for Texas A&M's stadium, Kyle Field, has made 8 of 11 field goals this season and 34 of his last 43. Punter Shane Lechler is second in the nation (48.8-yard average), and Danté Hall is 20th in punt returns (13.0). Junior Kyle Lednicky (no relation to Kyle Field) has a string of 310 error-free snaps on kicks.

Other than Colorado, the Aggies have played no team that could challenge them. That will change in the next two weeks. Trips to Kansas State and Texas Tech will reveal if Texas A&M is a Big 12 con tender. Should the Aggies win those two Oklahoma State's visit on Nov. 1 will likely be for the conference's South Division championship. By then Marshall may need a trim.

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