Texas A&M Defense Finally Plays a Complete Game, Can It Keep It Up?
A complete game defensively has no reference to perfection. On defense, perfection remains unreachable, as no offense will ever fail to gain a yard, particularly in this day and age.
Rather, a complete game is simply when a defensive unit outperforms its opposing offense in every aspect possible, similar to when a pitcher earns all 27 outs, with managed scoring and baserunning, instead of a total shutdown offensive production.
"It was a good confidence builder for us," A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "I think football is a game of confidence. Last year we started the Florida game, and played pretty well, and the ball started rolling. Hopefully, the ball started rolling [today]."
The defense played outside itself on many occasions throughout the game, feeding off the energy of Kyle Field. The Aggies yielded just 329 total yards total yards to the Commodores, a season low thus far. Additionally, the 24 points was the second lowest all year, sitting just ahead of A&M's 13-point performance against SMU.
According to Snyder, a key factor was his unit's ability to draw energy from the home crowd, a talent the young group had yet to do so far this season.
"What was most impressive to me today was that our kids finally started playing to the crowd," Snyder said. "We've got great fans. Last week, the crowd got kind of loud and everybody was just out there like, 'OK.' Today, they were feeding off of that, they were encouraging that. I looked out there, and no different than last week our crowd was going crazy, and I see our kids start to get into the groove. That's a good thing. That's mojo you can't put a price tag on."
On the field, though, the Aggies defensive line impressed the most, scoring multiple big-time statistics during the game.
A&M reached Vanderbilt's quarterback seven times throughout the game, virtually doubling its season sack total after producing the same amount in the seven games prior. Furthermore, the defense recorded a season-high 12 tackles for loss while adding three interceptions to the mix, a strong showing from a unit that allowed 615 total yards last week to Auburn.
While the sudden jump in production was evident from an outsiders' perspective, Snyder said he has seen consistent improvement and that Vanderbilt represented the entire unit putting it all together.
"I thought we had a really good week of practice," Snyder said. "The challenge we had before we hit the field was let's transition that from the practice field to Kyle Field, and our kids did that, for the most part. We've still got things we've got to get cleaned up. To me it's about improvement. I want to continue to see improvement. I think we're at the point and time, the juncture, where that should start happening."
Looking forward, the A&M defense hopes to maintain a similar style of play against its remaining four opponents, including Missouri and its high-powered offensive unit.
Sophomore defensive end Julien Obioha believes the Vanderbilt performance creates a tether the unit can look back on when needing guidance or energy, allowing a standard of play missing thus far through the season.
"We needed an example to show us how we should play," Obioha said. "Right now, we can always go back to the Vandy tape to show us. This is the type of production we expect from the defense. It was good to have a game like this."
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
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