Texas A&M’s defense, not quarterback Johnny Manziel, should be the storyline heading into the Aggies’ showdown with Alabama next weekend.
The unit looked questionable during the team’s 52-31 victory over Rice. They didn’t look too much better during Texas A&M’s 65-28 win over Sam Houston State on Saturday.
Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon must be licking his lips.
Over the first two weeks of the season, the Aggies have allowed 449.5 yards and 29.5 points per game. Even worse, the defense has been gashed for 273 yards per game on the ground. Not to mention, opponents are 3-of-4 on fourth-down conversions.
Senior correspondent for the Pac-12 Networks Bryan Fischer said it best:
Texas A&M defense just gave up a 68-yard touchdown run. Good thing they’re not facing TJ Yeldon soon or anything.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 8, 2013
Coming into this week, Texas A&M ranked 96th in the nation in total defense. Someone must have forgot to remind them they’re not in the Big 12 anymore.
Then again, even in the Big 12 this kind of defensive performance would still be considered embarrassing.
Last year, the Aggies fared much better defensively. They ranked 30th and 56th in the nation in both scoring and total defense respectively—22.5 points and 389.3 yards allowed per game.
Next up, the defense will have to try and contain one of the most explosive backs in the country.
Last season, as part of Alabama’s two-man committee at running back, Yeldon racked up 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Both marks were school records for a freshman.
Now, another year older and with the full brunt of the carries, Yeldon should have an even more productive campaign.
Then there’s quarterback A.J. McCarron.
The senior was phenomenal through the air, passing for 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns to just three interceptions. In fact, his quarterback rating of 175.3 led the nation. Furthermore, McCarron’s 9.3 yards per attempt ranked him second.
It’s the kind of two-pronged attack that can present nightmares for Texas A&M’s defense.
"We had our moments," Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin told ESPN's Sam Khan Jr. "You look at about really, four big plays, we can't do that. We'll go back and watch the video and assess where we are. I know one, in particular, was a missed tackle. We had a young guy jump out of a gap and they got out to the edge on us. We've got to continue to keep coaching and I think the addition this week of having [Steven] Jenkins back [will help]."
To be fair, the unit has yet to field its entire starting lineup this year. Injuries and suspensions have thrown a wrench into that plan.
However, is a showdown with the No. 1-ranked team in the country the best time to get a first glimpse of what you have?
With last season’s 29-24 defeat to Texas A&M still fresh in their minds, the Crimson Tide will already be playing with a chip on their shoulder. The worst thing the Aggies could possibly do is run out a vulnerable defense.
This one could get out of hand fast.