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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 hope for stronger defensive unit under Mike Elko

Sophomore+linebacker+Tyrel+Dodson+had+a+career-best+16+tackles+against+No.+1+Al%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Sophomore linebacker Tyrel Dodson had a career-best 16 tackles against No. 1 Al 

With a new coaching staff, six new players and eight returning, the Aggies’ veteran-filled defensive line is looking to prove themselves as they hit Kyle Field on Thursday against Northwestern State.
A&M faces two heavy offensive teams just four weeks into their schedule — No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson.
As the Aggies come within three days of their season opener, a few key players are leading the pack while new additions look to make a name for themselves.
Junior linebacker Tyrel Dodson has been a staple for Aggie defense in the past two seasons. Despite missing the SEC’s all-conference team, Dodson finished last season with 105 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three picks.
One change fans can hope for from Dodson this year is his understanding of the game. This is due in part to new defensive coordinator, Mike Elko.
Dodson said the new freshmen are showing their ability to be coached and because of this, he is confident they will be able to fill any position.
“A lot of guys are just coming in [and] are being very coachable right now,” Dodson said. “A lot of guys are just willing to learn and just willing to be coached. It’s going really good.”
One defensive player Dodson doesn’t expect to change in his attack is defensive back, Larry Pryor. Making a career-high nine tackles against Louisiana and six tackles against Arkansas, Pryor finished last year with 12 appearances.
“I’m seeing the same Larry Pryor that [you] saw in the Ole Miss game and Arkansas game and in every game, he has played here,” Dodson said. “Same old good Larry Pryor that is smart and has really good ball skills.”
Another defensive lineman hoping to make himself known this season is sophomore Justin Madubuike.
Earning the defensive MVP last spring, Madubuike finished the season off with 20 tackles in 13 game appearances. With the hopes of seeing the field more, Madubuike is one of the best in his position, according to junior offensive lineman Erik McCoy.
“I think Madubuike is already an all distance caliber player,” McCoy said. “He and I didn’t have a lot of time on the field to show it, but that kid is a beast. He can really play…he’s one of the best defensive tackles I’ve ever seen.”
Practice seemed to be the biggest indication for players on how the defense will stack up against tougher competition. Dodson called the matchups between the Aggies’ offensive and defensive line competitive and in line with what they’ll face when playing against other SEC teams.
“The competition has been like beautiful,” Dodson said. “I mean, it’s been like hard nose, SEC football. Defensive line and offensive line, they’re going at it every day. … we’re going to be pretty good.”
On the other side of the football, McCoy said matchups against a good defensive line have been helpful for the offensive line as they prepare for the season ahead.
“As the offensive line, we’re just competing against the defensive line. We have a very good defensive line…we have some good competition going in there,” McCoy said.

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