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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 set for favorable match-up against Kent State offense

Photo by FILE

Texas A&M’s defensive line will rely on experience when they take the field for the 2021 season. 

More than anything else, Texas A&M’s defense was a key piece of the maroon and white’s successful 2020 campaign. 

Coming into 2021, the Aggies brought back most of its starters from last year’s Orange Bowl championship team. A&M’s first matchup is against Kent State, a team that managed to play only four games last year due to COVID-19, on Saturday, Sept. 4. 

Head coach Jimbo Fisher said the Golden Flashes are a team with an up-tempo and dynamic offense. Last season, Kent State led all FBS schools with 608 yards-per-game.

“Kent State was marvelous last year,” Fisher said in a press conference on Aug. 30. “I know they only played four games, but they averaged almost 50 points per game.”

Fisher also spoke highly of Kent State graduate quarterback Dustin Crum. The quarterback threw 12 touchdowns and two interceptions last season while completing 75 percent of his passing attempts.

“[Their] quarterback is back and a very good player,” Fisher said. “He makes very good decisions and is accurate with the ball. [Crum] is also athletic, too.”

Another offensive weapon for Kent State is sophomore Marquez Cooper. The running back racked up 282 yards and five touchdowns last season to the tune of five yards-per-carry. 

Fisher said Cooper is similar to running backs he coached while at Florida State.

“[Cooper’s] not a giant guy, but he is quick and strong,” Fisher said. “Some of the best tailbacks we had when I was at Florida State were actually shorter than I was — guys that can change direction but are very powerful. He’s the same way.”

In order to stop Cooper, A&M is going to have to rely on their experienced defense. 

On the opposite side of the line of scrimmage, A&M is returning many of its defensive starters, including sophomore cornerback Jaylon Jones, junior safety Demani Richardson and junior defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal. Now-NFL players Bobby Brown and Buddy Johnson were replaced by senior defensive tackle Jaden Peevy and junior middle linebacker Andre White. 

Having all of these talented players returning will play a big role in the Aggie defense containing Kent State’s prolific offense.

“[We] basically [have] the same guys [from last season],” Leal said. “We have Maley Jackson, Michael Clemons, Adarius Jones and Jaden Peevy. [We] even [have] new guys such as Shemar Turner and Tunmise [Adeleye]. The experience that we have and the size is unmatched. I’d definitely say we have the best defensive line in the country.”

Leal said he is looking forward to finally playing in front of a full capacity Kyle Field.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Leal said in a press conference at Kyle Field on Aug. 30. “Last year we didn’t have full capacity, so this year, everybody’s coming back. I believe the 12th Man is going to be unbelievable and just extremely loud.”

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