Texas A&M has been in the news for its possible move from the Big 12 to the SEC.
For Oklahoma's offensive line, the Aggies have served as motivation in the weight room, in film study.
Vowing to be more physical, vowing to have a more productive ground game, only one thing needed to be said the past six months:
The Sooners lost 33-19 last season at College Station in what might be their final trip to Kyle Field.
Three A&M goal-line stands were the difference.
"We talk about that A&M game almost daily," said OU fullback Trey Millard. "It's one of our goals to finish on the goal-line, finish in short yardage, line up and run the ball and get two yards whenever we need it."
On the three goal-line stands, the Sooners ran 11 plays inside the A&M 5-yard line. They gained a total of 1 yard.
Ten plays were runs, including seven carries by DeMarco Murray, the school's all-time touchdown leader. Millard was stuffed twice. Landry Jones failed once on a quarterback sneak.
"It went bad, and it kept getting worse," said guard Gabe Ikard. "We need to be more physical. Looking back, that was really disappointing when you're playing offensive line."
Strength coaches constantly remind the O-line what happened at A&M. But it's more than being stronger, more physical, although hitting the weights, pushing a defender off the line of scrimmage is fundamental football.
Coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel several times during two-a-days have used the term "tracking guys."
In layman's terms, offensive linemen need to know who they're blocking.
"It's been a major point of emphasis in the offseason, going back and looking at cut-ups through spring ball and summer development," Heupel said. "If we can make strides in that area, we think that will allow us to be a lot more explosive.
"We're making strides in that area. Guys are understanding what we're doing. They're using the right footwork more than they were in the spring. But we still have a long ways to go."
Improved communication minimizes defenses from plugging holes in short yardage situations.
"If we know where we're going, all you have to worry about is execution," Ikard said. "Mentally, we've increased our level of play a lot. We're hoping to avoid those (goal-line stands) again."
The line gets most of the criticism when the offense fails to punch it in. But sometimes a running back hits the wrong hole, perimeter blocking breaks down or backs aren't lowering their shoulder pads.
The entire offense vows to be more physical.
"We're building an attitude during two-a-days, being physical off the ball whether we're in Jumbo or Ace (formation)," Millard said. "We've got to be able to run the ball."
Ikard was asked if he knew OU's yard-per-carry average last season.
"It was 3.3," Ikard said. "We were last in the Big 12."
Have coaches been driving that point home?
"No. I figured it out," Ikard said. "Actually, my dad told me: 'I'm just letting you know. Thanks, Dad.'"
This season, Ikard, Millard and the offensive line are determined goal-line failures won't be an issue.
"Our goal is to increase the average by a yard (to 4.3)," Ikard said. "If we're rushing the ball for 170 to 180 (yards) a game, we should be pretty effective on offense. That would open up our pass game even more."
Yards per carry -- Bob Stoops era Year: YPC 2010: 3.3 2009: 3.6 2008: 4.7 2007: 4.7 2006: 4.5 2005: 4.0 2004: 4.8 2003: 3.8 2002: 4.5 2001: 3.5 2000: 3.8 1999: 3.9