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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’s No. 1 rushing defense to face Kentucky offense in key matchup

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Junior defensive back Charles Oliver and junior linebacker Tyrel Dodson shake hands in between plays.

Armed with the top running defense in the SEC, Texas A&M feels ready to take on the powerful run game of the No. 13 Kentucky Wildcats as the two teams prepare for their Saturday matchup at Kyle Field.
In their first five games of the season, the Wildcats have totaled 407.2 yards per game and scored an average of 32.4 points in each matchup. As an undefeated team coming into Kyle Field, Kentucky provides a challenge to the A&M defense.
“They run the ball really well and we stop the run really well,” junior linebacker Tyrel Dodson said. “I’m looking forward to a tough, physical game. This is why you come to Texas A&M and you come to the SEC — to play games like this.”
Kentucky’s junior running back Benny Snell Jr. was a big topic of discussion for the A&M’s defensive starters. Snell has maintained 639 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this season, becoming a problem for defenses everywhere.
“He’s a good running back,” Dodson said. “He grinds it out, grinds it out, then he busts one when everyone’s tired. He’s very conditioned. He has a very patient game, he doesn’t rush a lot. They have a very good offensive line. I’m just happy. I’m looking forward to it.”
Head coach Jimbo Fisher continued to highlight the breakout performance by Snell this season and compared his style of play to that of former NFL running back and Hall of Famer, Emmitt Smith.
“I’ve never seen a guy that can wiggle [through players], and for a lack of a better term, he reminds me of the way Emmitt [Smith] used to run,” Fisher said. “Emmitt had the big plays, but Emmitt made yards on everything he did … I mean it’s just constantly moving the chains. He’s [Snell] strong and he’s powerful and all of a sudden he breaks out.”
A&M’s defense leads the conference in holding the run game to an average of 85.0 yards per game, and ranks fourth in holding offenses during third-down conversions. This is big improvement from past defenses. This time last year the Aggies allowed 95.8 rushing yards and forced a 3-and-out situation 40.8 percent of the time against offenses.
Senior defensive lineman Kingsley Keke credited this change from last season to new coaching techniques.
“[Coach Mike Elko] puts us in different types of schemes and third down packages,” Keke said. “It’s always switching, it’s not the same thing. He puts us everywhere and it causes a lot of havoc to offenses.”
The overall goal for the Aggies this weekend is to hold the run game, and force an otherwise dominant team to use resources they are not as confident in.
“You got to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run, you won’t be able to win the game,” Keke said. “We’re going to try and stop the run and make them pass the ball. Right now our key is stopping the run because they have a good running back and a good O-line.”

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