Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has some history with Dana Holgorsen.
A recent history.
For Holgorsen, a not all pleasant history.
With Holgorsen directing Houston's offense in the Armed Forces Bowl last December, Air Force shackled his Cougars, holding them to a season-low passing total of 222 yards. The Falcons picked off six passes and held Houston — the nation's top-ranked offense — without a touchdown through the first half, on their way to a 47-20 rout.
DeRuyter was Air Force's defensive coordinator.
Now he's due in Stillwater Thursday night, bringing the same aggressive, attacking defense with A&M that he spun into one of the nation's stingiest units at Air Force.
At Air Force.
And if a key matchup can be waged away from the field, this is it.
Holgorsen vs. DeRuyter.
Sure, a coach's impact carries only so far, before the players take over, succeeding or failing in the plan. But the right plan, and everybody's commitment to the plan, can be critical.
Games like this, as with many throughout the Big 12 schedule, are why Aggies coach Mike Sherman brought DeRuyter on board, luring him from his alma mater to restore the attitude and aptitude that once earned A&M's defense the "Wrecking Crew" reputation.
The Aggies played matador defense a year ago, finishing 105th among 120 teams in total defense and allowing at least 35 points in each of seven losses. That sent former defensive coordinator Joe Kines into retirement and cleared the way for DeRuyter's move to College Station.
"He does an unbelievable job of mixing things up," Holgorsen said of DeRuyter. "His scheme is good against the run, but he has led the nation in pass defense the last couple of years.
"They're going to have the ability to put people in the box and they're going to have the ability to cover the pass."
DeRuyter certainly brings a wrecking crew style with a 3-4 approach that turns blitzers loose from every angle.
"We're still blitzing every down," Aggies safety Trent Hunter said following a win over Louisiana Tech. "Usually about four guys — someone off the edge, or an inside linebacker or something."
The Aggies are forcing turnovers, too, with seven through three games.
"If you play with that fanatical effort, it can cover up a lot of lapses in your defense," Sherman said. "I hope we put that on tape every week and (opponents) say, 'Wow, this team really runs to the football.'"
At Air Force, with lesser athletes than they line up in College Station, DeRuyter's defenses got it done and more. A year ago, the Falcons finished 11th in the NCAA in total defense, allowing 288.31 yards per game. They were fifth in the country in pass defense (with 20 interceptions) and 10th in scoring defense. Their 34 total turnovers ranked fifth.
A bunch of those take-aways came against Houston.
Holgorsen's past clashes with DeRuyter aren't all bad. The two have matched chess moves three times over the past two seasons, including twice in 2008. That season, Air Force won a 31-28 battle in the regular season, before Houston won a rematch in the Armed Forces Bowl, 34-28.
No offense to the Cougars or Falcons, or the Armed Forces Bowl, but the stakes may be higher this time.
The future, both short- and long-term in the Big 12, may hang in the Boone Pickens Stadium air Thursday night.
And by impacting the present and future, Holgorsen can fade history.