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Texas A&M ‘best non-conference team’ UI has faced under Akey

SATURDAY, SEPT. 17, 2011

MOSCOW, Idaho – Robb Akey was scanning through Texas A&M’s offensive formations on film the other day when something caught his eye. Lined up on the outside for the Aggies, where receivers usually roam, was what appeared to be a nimble tight end.

Akey stopped the tape and looked at the play again. Only then did the Idaho football coach realize he had been wrong the first time – he had been watching 6-foot-4, 220-pound wideout Jeff Fuller.

“On film he looks like a big tight end, but he can run,” Akey said.

Fuller has set an A&M record with 28 career touchdown receptions and delighted Aggies fans in January by opting against early entry into the NFL draft. Yet he’s just one of many weapons the high-octane Aggies will showcase today against the Vandals at Kyle Field in College Station.

Ninth-ranked A&M (1-0) is favored by 35 1/2 points and has one of the premier homefield advantages in the nation. Idaho, meanwhile, got off to a bumpy start the last two weeks and has lost its last 21 meetings with Bowl Championship Series teams since 2000.

“It will be the best nonconference team we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Akey said.

A&M returns quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a 6-4 senior who led the team to six straight wins last year after taking over midseason. He guides a fast-tempo offense loaded with big-play threats – Fuller, receiver Ryan Swope and productive running backs Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael.

The Aggies also have a harassing defense – led by Tony Jerod-Eddie – that racked up eight sacks in a season-opening beat-down of SMU.

“Their size is just a lot different than anything we see in the” WAC, Idaho QB Brian Reader said.

The Aggies’ disguising defensive front will be matched against a patchwork Idaho offensive line that’s allowed seven sacks in two games.

Another focus will be pressuring Tannehill. UI has two sacks, and none from its ends.

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