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) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tarleton State on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
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Confidence is key for Aggie defense as they prepare for South Carolina

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+rushing+defense+ranks+fourth+in+the+nation+as+the+allow+a+mere+3.13+yard+per+carry+and+less+than+85+yards+per+game+to+opposing+running+backs.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Texas A&M rushing defense ranks fourth in the nation as the allow a mere 3.13 yard per carry and less than 85 yards per game to opposing running backs.

As the No. 22 Aggies enter Williams-Brice Stadium to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, they bring the top run defense in the Southeastern Conference with them.
The run defense was explosive last Saturday against Kentucky. The Wildcats’ acclaimed running back Benny Snell Jr. averaged 127.8 yards per game before entering Kyle Field, but the Aggies held him to only 60 yards, ultimately allowing Texas A&M to take the 2014 win in overtime.
“Shutting down the run eliminates a lot,” said sophomore defensive back Debione Renfro. “If you shut down the run, they have no choice but to pass the ball. And if we do everything we’re supposed to do, they shouldn’t be able to pass the ball either.”
The defense’s success this season comes from habits forged during the week, said senior Landis Durham.
“You play how you practice,” Durham said. “We go the whole week going hard through our practice, whether it’s pass rush drills or going against scout team, just doing a great job of creating habits throughout the week.”
The Aggie defense isn’t lacking in confidence either, which senior linebacker Otaro Alaka said is crucial to their success.
“Half [of] the game is mental, so when you’ve got that confidence going and you know what you’re doing on the field, that helps you a whole lot,” Alaka said. “I think we’re playing with as much confidence as we’ve ever played with.”
Going into this season, the defense had to adapt to playing under a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator. Alaka said communication has been critical to making the transition as seamless as possible.
“You have to make sure that the guys are on the same page every play, and it’s kind of on us as the linebackers to do so,” Alaka said.
The group’s above-average experience level has also helped, Alaka said.
“Most of our front seven came back from last year,” Alaka said. “It always helps when you have another year under your belt, as well as we have a really good scheme, and when you buy into that scheme, it pays dividends.”
The change head coach Jimbo Fisher and defensive coordinator Mike Elko have brought to the defense rests in three words: toughness, effort and discipline.
“You see that everywhere around here now,” Durham said. “That’s what we live by. We’re going to be tough. They’re not going to coach effort; we’re going to make sure we give effort. We have to be disciplined for four quarters of football every game.”
Saturday’s game in South Carolina is the first of three on the road for the Aggies. Losing the home field advantage always presents new challenges for the defense, Alaka said.
“It’s hard to get a win on the road in the SEC,” Alaka said. “It’s going to be a real challenge, but I think we’re up for it and I think we’re going to be locked in.” 
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