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

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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

A&M DC Mike Elko emphasizes fundamentals in new defensive system

Mike Elko
Photo by 12th Man
Mike Elko

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko has simple principles to improve the Aggies’ defense – fundaments and technicalities.
“We want to be a fundamentally sound defense,” Elko said at Sunday’s media day. “I think we want to play extremely hard. I think it starts with that. From there, we want to be very good technically. We want to be really good tacklers. We want to be physical. We want to control the line of scrimmage.”
One technicality seen in practice is with Elko’s position group, the defensive backs. Each player in the unit wears a white stripe on their helmet, which shows Elko and cornerbacks coach Maurice Linguist where the players’ eyes are looking on film.
“It helps us a lot because you don’t want to get in trouble because film doesn’t lie,” sophomore cornerback Clifford Chattman said. “You want to have your eyes in the right place at the right time.”
The small nuance has become a big fix for junior cornerback Charles Oliver, who said Elko and Linguist are waiting for their eyes to look the wrong way. Still, Oliver said he has seen how the technicality has benefited the defensive backs collectively under Elko’s new defensive system.
“It’s a big jump because coming from last year we’ve been big on man just worrying about him, staying on him,” Oliver said. “But now we’ve got a lot of keys, we’ve got a lot of reads to make and that just helps us a lot because we know that our coach is going to see that.”
While the A&M secondary is trying to improve from its 76th overall finish in Team Passing Defense Efficiency, Elko sees the potential for improvement across the entire defense.
“I think kids are hungry to change the impression of where they stand,” Elko said. “And I think you’ve got some really talented seniors in this program that are really excited to try and leave their mark on this place before they get out of here.”
Despite one successful one season at Notre Dame, the A&M allure was too much for Elko when offered the position in January.
“If you’re a coach, you want to coach against the best and I think it’s hard to argue that this division isn’t the best division in college football,” Elko said. “When the opportunity presented itself to come down here and jump into this fire and do it with Coach Fisher, a proven winner who’s won a national championship, that was really exciting.”
Elko said he’s familiar with RC Slocum’s ‘Wrecking Crew’ teams, but noted he wants A&M’s future defenses to make their own name under his direction.
“I think this group needs to establish their own identity,” Elko said. “We’re not looking to chase the past or to even measure ourselves with those groups. We want to go out there and play a great brand of defense.”

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