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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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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) dlivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Julien Obioha: Old school defense

Defensive+end+Julien+Obioha+says+he+would+have+fit+in+with+the+way+football+was+played+in+the+1950s%0A%26%23160%3B
Defensive end Julien Obioha says he would have fit in with the way football was played in the 1950s  

In an age where college football has embraced high-octane offenses characterized by flashy quarterbacks and five wide receiver schemes, it is easy to forget the traditional, power run game of football’s past.
This week’s meeting with Arkansas serves as a reminder of just that for A&M. And for defensive end Julien Obioha, it is a sweet one.
“I like to joke around with the guys and say I’m the old-school defensive end,” Obioha said. “I could’ve played in the 50s. All they did in the 50s was run the ball, so I could’ve played in the 50s. You have the new style defensive end like [Daeshon Hall] or Myles [Garrett] or guys who are 6-6 and can run a 4.40 [forty-yard dash.] I’m the old- school guy that’s slow, but big and strong and can hold up in the run game.”
At 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, the petroleum engineering junior Obioha is the most seasoned of the Aggie defensive ends. He recorded 63 tackles, two sacks and seven pass breakups in 24 games played through his freshman and sophomore seasons.
His performance did not come without a price, however. Obioha was often called upon to play upwards of 70 defensive snaps per game for an Aggie unit that struggled to find depth. Fortunately for Obioha, the emergence of young, talented lineman in 2014 has removed a lot of weight from his shoulders.
“It’s better that we have depth this year,” Obioha said. “It’s a lot easier to rush a passer when you haven’t played 90 plays. There are two good guys behind me that can go in and do just as well as me. Myles is playing great for us, [Daeshon Hall] is playing great, everybody is playing great, so it just helps get pressure on the quarterback.”
The statistics back up his claims as well. In four games, the Aggies have gone from averaging 1.62 sacks per game in 2013 (83rd in FBS) to 4.25 sacks per game in 2014 (tied for third in FBS). The Aggies have nearly cut in half the average amount of rushing yards they allow per game, down from 222.3 in 2013 to 124.8 in 2014.
All this improvement comes underneath the leadership of Obioha, who has assumed the role of mentor with some of the younger players.
“I tell them all the time that when I was in their spot I really didn’t have anybody to watch and learn from,” Obioha said. “Whenever I can help them with something, I always help them, I try and teach them. I’m doing as much as I can to get them ready for a 6-10, 350-pound tackle [this Saturday].”
Though only 326 pounds, Arkansas left tackle Dan Skipper is 6-foot-10, the second-tallest football player in Division I this season. Skipper is part of an Arkansas offensive line that weighs 1,642 pounds (328.4 pounds per player) making them not only heavier, on average, than any college football offensive line, but also heavier than any NFL offensive line that started week one of the season.
Obioha’s “old-school” mentality embraces the opportunity to grind it out with the Razorback line just as defenses would have done in the 50s.
“I kind of like this challenge,” Obioha said. “They are a big, physical offensive line. As a defense, we have been looking forward to this game a little bit because it’s something that we had a lot of trouble with last year, obviously, with the rushing defense.”
Obioha and company will get their chance this weekend as they make their way to AT&T Stadium to play in the marquee SEC game of the week.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “I think it’s the first time a lot of these young guys are going to play on a 2:30 CBS game. They don’t realize how much people are actually going to be watching.”

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