Because the Texas A&M defense has failed to live up to Southeastern Conference expectations five weeks into the 2013 season, adjustments must be made.
With a bye week for this upcoming Saturday, the Aggies have the opportunity to reevaluate the defense and make changes as necessary so as to improve its overall performance down the stretch of the season.
Bleacher Report breaks down three improvements the defense must make to emerge as a positive force on this loaded A&M squad.
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand
Through five weeks of play, the Aggies have failed to create heavy pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as offensive lines have contained A&M's sack numbers to minimal impact.
Additionally, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder discussed following A&M's 42-13 win over SMU how even when pressure did reach the quarterback, defenders would "bounce off" rather than tackling, leaving room for a play to be made downfield.
Strong pressure on the quarterback would go a long way in terms of helping both the secondary and the defensive line, as hits and sacks force signal-callers out of rhythm and into rushed passes. The Aggies need to rely heavily on sophomore defensive end Julien Obioha for pressure, as he has been unable to find room early this season.
Shoddy tackling has become a disease amongst the Aggie defense as of late, as missed tackles and bad angling have resulted in extended offensive plays and, on occasion, touchdowns.
A key component of the defense's inability to wrap and up and bring down offensive playmakers has been its youth, and veteran players throwing shoulder tackles—and failing—has affected how the young guys have developed.
Defensively, most progress falls back into solid tackling form, as on any given play, a good tackle could shut down an offense before it even begins. Missed tackles are contagious as well and is a problem Snyder and the defensive staff must correct immediately going forward.
A key component for any SEC program defensively will be forcing the opposing offense to be one-dimensional, as it turns a team with threats in both the running and passing games into a team with just one outlet of offensive production.
While the SEC remains a league based around defense, the offenses have developed tremendously over the course of the past few years. Forcing a team like LSU or Alabama to abandon their run or pass games throughout the course of the match will be key to success down the stretch.
For A&M, its strength lies in pass defense, as junior safety Deshazor Everett has evolved into a deadly threat to create turnovers and generate tackles. As such, the Aggies must force offenses into running the ball almost exclusively, so as to focus on developing its youth in the front seven into a deadly group.