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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

‘They’ve got something’

Photo by Photo By: Bryan Johnson

Last season, the Texas A&M defense allowed 45 points on average to Arkansas, Mississippi State and Alabama, resulting in two losses. This season, the Aggies played those three opponents in the same order. The results were significantly better, as the defense allowed under 20 points on average if excluding the three pick sixes by the Aggie offense against the Crimson Tide.

A big loss for the Aggies was linebacker Otaro Alaka, who has been ruled out for the season with a torn labrum. But just when it appeared the Aggies were thin at the linebacker position, true freshman Richard Moore announced his name to the world against Alabama.

A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said he was impressed with the way Moore handled himself on the big stage.

“He gave us some juice,” Sumlin said. “Everybody was a little bit nervous — I was a little bit nervous. Obviously Richard wasn’t. He flew around, he made some mistakes, but he made his presence known. [He] had some solo tackles, chased some guys down from behind. You worry about young guys being overwhelmed; he was not overwhelmed by the atmosphere. He was excited to play.” 

Defensive lineman Daylon Mack and Zaycoven Henderson hadn’t seen significant game time on the field together until Saturday. Defensive coordinator John Chavis said the true freshman and sophomore make a good team.

“We talked about it even before, in terms of [trying] to get those guys in,” Chavis said. “Because both are physical, big, explosive, and they have that fast-twitch other guys may not. Both of those guys played well for us, and they’ll continue to grow.”

A&M ranks fourth in the SEC with 20 sacks. The Aggies are one of four FBS programs with two defensive players ranked in the top 25 in sacks. Sophomore Myles Garrett has 8.5 sacks, which is the most in the SEC and third in the nation, and junior Daeshon Hall has five.

The Aggie defense has forced 57 tackles for loss in six games this season compared to 76 in all 13 games last season. Defensive tackle Julien Obioha said he was pleased with the progress made by the new defense at Tuesday’s news conference.

“Chavis has done a great job of making Myles Garrett play a lot better and he’s also done a great job of bringing on Daeshon Hall,” Obioha said. “I think that’s where the TFLs come in, and we’ve just been more aggressive upfront you know a lot of TFLs have come from the defensive line.” 

Even the players on offense are taking notice, as offensive lineman Avery Gennesy said the defense has accomplished much so far.

“It’s amazing with what [Chavis is] doing with our defense,” Gennesy said. “He’s changed it all the way around. The guys love him. We all as a group love him. He’s a good coach and a father figure, so we love the addition of him being here.”

Chavis said the defense’s overall play against Alabama was quality, and despite coaching for 36 years, he saw something rare.

“I’m proud of our football team,” Chavis said. “I’ve been in this league for a long time, and for three quarters I don’t know if I’ve seen a defense fly around and compete as well as we did for the final three quarters. These kids, they’ve got something to them.”

Chavis said when it comes to people not giving the defense credit, he doesn’t care what they think.

“It’s about us,” Chavis said. “It’s about our football team. They’ve all had the ability to sit down and watch that film. Give Alabama credit, they’re a very good football team, no question. But we showed that we can play. Now we have to do it consistently, and if having a chip is what it takes, then we’ll make sure. We’ll put those chips there. Because that’s the way you play defense.”

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