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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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A&M defense looks to prove itself against Auburn

Junior+Tyrel+Dodson+calls+out+a+command+to+his+team+before+the+snap.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Junior Tyrel Dodson calls out a command to his team before the snap.

After a disappointing loss on the road to Mississippi State, the No. 20 Texas A&M football team now sets its sights on its next opponent — the Auburn Tigers.
The matchup is the final game in a three-straight road game stretch for the Aggies. The 5-3 Auburn team is coming off a bye week after losing to Tennessee at home.
A&M’s total defense is sitting at No. 24, while Auburn’s total defense is No. 37. The Aggie defense is strong against the run, with the Aggies ranked No. 5 in the nation in rush defense, giving up just 89.3 rushing yards per game. On the flip side, the Aggie secondary is 90th in the nation in passing yards allowed, giving up 241.6 yards per game through the air. The Aggies are led on the line by seniors Landis Durham and Kingsley Keke. Durham and Keke lead the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks each. Senior Otaro Alaka leads the linebacker corps and the team with 49 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. Senior Donovan Wilson leads the secondary with 40 tackles and has also recorded one interception for the season.
“When you look at their defense, they’re very good against the run,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Both of their backers are very active and fast-flow type guys. On the back end, they try to keep everything in front of them, and they have some speed at the corners.”
Auburn’s defense is similar to A&M’s, just not as extreme. The Tigers’ strength is the run game and their weakness is the passing game, like A&M. Auburn’s rushing defense is ranked 30th in the country, while its passing defense is ranked 63rd.
Kevin Steele’s defense has plenty of talent, especially in its front seven. On the defensive line, sophomore defensive end Nick Coe leads the team in both tackles for loss and sacks, with 11.5 and six, respectively. Senior Deshaun Davis leads the linebacker corps. Davis leads the team with 76 tackles on the year and has also recorded 9.5 tackles for loss. Junior Jeremiah Dinson leads the secondary with a recorded 42 tackles and two interceptions on the year.
“Every team [in the SEC] has pro prospects up front, that’s what separates this league,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Their backers are physical and they run downhill. Their corners can run, they have big safeties, they play a lot of man and mix up their coverages a lot. I recruited a lot of their guys when they were in high school. They’re a physical team.”
A&M’s main concern with the Tiger offense will be junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who hasn’t had a great year but may have the talent to explode any game. A year ago, Stidham went 20-27 with 268 yards and three touchdowns against the Aggies, and he could very well put up those kinds of numbers against the 90th-ranked A&M pass defense.
Auburn’s main concern with the A&M offense won’t be a player, but how long the Aggies have control of the ball. A&M is second in the country in time of possession, holding the ball for an average of 36 minutes a game.
“I know [Stidham is] a great quarterback,” junior defensive end Justin Madubuike said. “He can throw well and runs when he needs to. Auburn’s a great team and nobody in the SEC is easy and nobody is just going to hand it to you. We just have to prepare the same way for everybody.”

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