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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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Takeaways from A&M’s 26-20 loss to Alabama

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Chris Swann/The Battalion

Sophomore DB Bryce Anderson (1) sits in the end zone during Texas A&M’s football game against Alabama at Kyle Field on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

If you were to look at Alabama’s 23 total rushing yards against Texas A&M in its Saturday, Oct. 7 matchup, you’d almost certainly think the Aggies came away with an easy victory.
However, after a strong showing in the first half, the Maroon and White were outscored 16-3 in the second half, with glaring issues on both sides of the ball. Here are some key takeaways from A&M’s first SEC loss of the season.
The Aggies’ defensive line did its job, the secondary did not
After monster performances the last two weeks against Auburn and Arkansas, A&M’s defensive front has solidified itself as one of the best units in the country.
Its efforts did not slow down against the Tide, as the Aggies walked away with six sacks and six tackles for loss, and bottled up senior Alabama running back Jase McClennan to just 45 yards on the ground. Junior linebacker and junior defensive lineman Edgerrin Cooper and Fadil Diggs led the charge, with three and two sacks respectively.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, they did not receive the same performance from their secondary. Sophomore Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe had his best outing of the season, throwing for 321 yards with three touchdowns. Before this, the most the Katy native had thrown for was 255 yards against Texas.
Senior Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton had a career game, catching 13 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide’s offense had eight passes for over 15 yards, including three 40-plus yard passes.
If the Aggies want to find success against other teams in the SEC West, the secondary will have to take a major leap forward. A&M still has to play three offenses ranked in the top 20 in total offense, and all of the defensive prowess can not come from the defensive front. This is not to say the Aggies’ secondary cannot lean on its defensive line, but it has to let the line rely on it sometimes as well.
The offensive line let Max Johnson and A&M’s offense down
The offensive front for the Aggies has been a sore spot this entire season, especially after an injury to sophomore QB Conner Weigman in the Auburn game sidelined the Bridgeland native for the rest of the season.
It appeared that maybe the big guys up front had gotten their act together, as A&M held Arkansas without a sack last game.
The Crimson Tide blew the issue wide open, decimating the Aggies’ offensive line all game. On the day, Alabama sacked sophomore QB Max Johnson five times, forcing seven QB hurries.
The Tide’s tenacious pass rush also forced A&M’s lone interception of the day, as Johnson was forced to throw a pass off his back foot that fell right into the hands of freshman Alabama defensive back Caleb Downs.
The Aggies are out of the frying pan and into the fryer next week, as they face a Tennessee Volunteers’ defense that ranks first in the country in team sacks, led by sophomore DL James Pearce Jr.
A&M has the 12th Man to thank for helping keep them in the game
After Aggie fans camped out for the Alabama matchup for weeks, the 12th Man did not disappoint. Kyle Field was flooded with maroon, as 108,101 fans — the third- largest attendance in Kyle Field’s history — tried to do their part.
And do their part they did, as Alabama committed nine false start penalties, three of which came on one drive alone. Multiple Crimson Tide possessions stalled out or were altered by the inability to hear Milroe’s snap count, and the Aggies can thank the 12th Man for that.
Going forward, A&M has to capitalize and find victory at home, as the Maroon and White only have two more SEC home games. They will not have the luxury of home-field advantage too often going forward, and with road games at Tennessee, LSU and Ole Miss still left, A&M cannot afford another home loss with the advantage the 12th Man gives.
The SEC West is still up for grabs
A win against Alabama would have put the Aggies in the driver’s seat for the SEC West. Instead, the Aggies now sit muddled at the top with the likes of Ole Miss and LSU, as the Crimson Tide hold possession of first.
Despite the loss, A&M can still vie for the top of the West if they just do one simple thing: win. Alabama will still need to lose two, but with matchups left against LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn, anything can happen.
With that being said, the road ahead for the Maroon and White is not easy sledding by any means. The Aggies’ toughest games going forward are all on the road, including ending the year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Aggies will need some skill and a lot of luck to find themselves at the top once the smoke clears, but for now, all they can do is take each week at a time.

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