Texas A&M football is 4-1 and ranked No. 9 in the country as they head into a bye week. The bye week comes at a perfect time, as the Aggies have a lot of issues they need to work on as a team.
This is the first bye week of the Kevin Sumlin era in Aggieland. In 2012, the bye week was taken up when the Louisiana Tech game was moved due to expected bad weather.
The Aggies are a very young team in 2013 and they have struggled on defense. They bye week should allow the coaches to work on the teams' weaknesses.
This is a look at what the Aggies must fix during their bye week.
The 2013 Texas A&M defense has been terrible at getting pressure on the quarterback. This is especially true when you look at the front four of the defense.
The two starting defensive ends for the Aggies have combined for 14 tackles and one tackle for loss in eight starts. To say that they have struggled to make an impact would be an understatement.
In five games, the Aggie defense has accumulated four sacks. Only two of them have come from defensive linemen with Alonzo Williams and Tyrone Taylor each registering a solo sack.
The Texas A&M defensive coaches are going to have to find some players in the front four who can get consistent penetration, or design some blitzes where linebackers and defensive backs can pressure the opposing quarterback.
The Aggies will not be effective on defense if they cannot generate and pressure on the quarterback.
The bye week comes at a great time for A&M. The defense just had two starters injured in the Arkansas game. Middle linebacker Darian Claiborne and nose guard Kirby Ennis both left the game because of injuries.
Starting safety Floyd Raven has been trying to recover from a broken collarbone suffered against Sam Houston State. Wide receiver Mike Evans and running back Trey Williams are both nursing minor strains.
The bye week will allow some extra time for all of the Aggies to heal. Without a game on Saturday, the Aggie coaches can allow the players to skip a couple of practices in order to focus on healing instead of the next opponent.
With starting defensive tackle Kirby Ennis suffering a knee injury against Arkansas, the Aggies' defensive line is in a state of flux. The Aggies have no choice but to play a lot of freshmen on the defensive line.
Freshman defensive tackle Isaiah Golden will likely start in place of Ennis. Freshman defensive tackle Jay Arnold will move up in the rotation and will be the first tackle off the bench.
Do not be surprised if the coaches take the redshirt off freshman defensive tackle Justin Manning. The coaches waited until the eighth game of the 2012 season to play then freshman defensive end Alonzo Williams. They will pull a redshirt off a player in the middle of the season if it will help the team win.
Williams is now starting at defensive tackle. He could be moved back over to the strong-side defensive end position if the coaches can ever find a viable replacement for him at defensive tackle.
Do not be surprised to see defensive coordinator Mark Snyder employ more three-man fronts during the second half of the season.
The Aggies are so thin at safety that they had to move junior defensive back Deshazor Everett from his natural position of cornerback to safety in order to shore up the back end.
Everett is the Aggies' best defensive player. He ranks second on the team with 31 tackles and has added two tackles for loss and two interceptions.
The secondary has improved immensely since Everett replaced Clay Hunnicutt at free safety. Senior Otis Jacobs took over at cornerback for Everett and he leads the team with five passes broken up.
Freshman safety Kam Miles was one of the Aggies' most highly ranked recruits. He missed the entire fall camp while injured, but has recently got healthy and is taking part in practice.
Miles has the size at 6'2" and 215 pounds to help the Aggies at safety right now. The extra week off will give Miles another week to learn the defense.
It should allow him to play this season and give the Aggies some much needed depth at safety.
A bye week means an extra week of practice for the football team without a game at the end. That means that the coaches can work on building depth instead of preparing the starters for the next opponent.
The coaches can use the extra week of practice to get the freshmen receivers more snaps. Jeremy Tabuyo and LaQuvionte Gonzalez can be difference makers in the slot.
They simply need more experience in the offense. The extra snaps provided during the bye week should help further them along as players and increase their impact on the field.