The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Opinion: Missed tackle

%26%23160%3B
 

It may not seem like it on the surface, but the same Texas A&M football team that still has a chance at a BCS bowl game has a very serious problem on its hands.
It’s no secret that the Aggie defense has struggled through six games, but as the page turns each week, improvement has been force-fed to fans like Gerber baby food.
Several problems have complicated the picture when it comes to the struggling A&M defense. The Aggies are young on defense and injuries have made the depth chart anything but consistent.
Going into the Arkansas game, the Aggies had used 17 true freshmen, four redshirt freshmen, two four-year transfers and two junior college transfers for a total of 25 players that have made their A&M playing debuts in 2013.
But each game adds experience and that improvement has hardly shown.
As Johnny Manziel and the Aggie offense continues to battle with the likes of Oregon and Baylor for the nation’s best offense, the defensive performance has been masked each game. With a pair of Aggie blinders we have all pushed aside worries about the defense in place of praise for the record-setting offense.
If the numbers never lie about Manziel and the offense, they certainly aren’t fibbing about the A&M defense either.
Out of 123 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the Aggie defense ranks 113th in total defense, allowing 474.3 yards per game. The closest team with one loss in the total defense rankings is this week’s opponent, Auburn, which ranks 66th.
It’s embarrassing really. And there is a strong majority on this campus that has no clue that, as a group, A&M’s defensive effort has been this bad.
That is perhaps the most confusing part of it all. Somehow the Aggies managed to lose just one game – by seven points to reigning champion and top-ranked Alabama – despite their ugly defensive effort.
Of course the A&M players are trying hard and they are definitely showing flashes of what could be. But they have little to show for it.
Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said Tuesday that the team has to find additional ways to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing. Those problems were solved in years past by players you may remember as Vonimal and Damonster.
“We have to apply some pressure at some point in time,” Snyder said. “I can say that now because I think we played pretty well against the run game [against Ole Miss]. Now the next step is we need to get some pass rush.”
Without a true pass-rushing end, A&M has been limited to just five sacks. That’s it. The Aggie offensive line, which features five starters that are all destined for the NFL, has allowed seven sacks.
The A&M defense ties for 118th out of 123 teams in team pass sacks. Only 3-2 Illinois, the lone team with four sacks on the season, has a less likely chance of sacking the opposing quarterback.
The reason A&M has been able to win every game but one to this point is because of the offense. They receive all the attention, but it’s because they’ve had to take control of each game at some point.
Johnny Manziel is and will continue to be the MVP of Texas A&M’s football team, but when the Aggie offense has even the slightest off day in the future, who will be there to save them?
Maybe it will be defensive tackle Alonzo Williams who leads the team with two sacks. Or maybe it’s true freshman linebacker Darian Claiborne who very well could be the next Miller or Moore, leading the team with four tackles for loss.
Each team finds its identity eventually, but we are close to finding out whether this Aggie defense that is averaging 6.5 yards allowed per play has sunken too far to be saved or if they can bring themselves back to the surface.
A good place to resurface would be Saturday against Auburn, which ranks 28th in total offense and is averaging 287 yards rushing per game and 5.6 yards per carry. Giving up more than half the yardage toward a first down to the No. 24 Tigers could result in an upset loss.
Right now you know the Aggie defense has struggled, even if you’ve just been riding the wave of wins each Saturday. If you look into the numbers that deserve your attention, they’ve been worse than bad.
Considering last season’s success, coach Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies have commanded our full attention. It’s time to start giving it to them and demanding better play, because 113th or 118th out of 123 isn’t going to cut it.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *