Texas A&M Football: 5 Toughest Players Aggies Will Face in 2014

Michael TaglientiFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

Texas A&M Football: 5 Toughest Players Aggies Will Face in 2014

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    The Texas A&M football team will face the typical gauntlet of tough teams that make up an SEC schedule in 2014. They will also face a number of the top individual players at their position in the country. 

    The Aggies experienced tremendous struggles on defense in 2013. They played a lot of freshmen and could not physically match up with a lot of teams. 

    The Aggies will be a year older on defense in 2014 and will be a more physically mature group. Whether or not that translates into success on the field remains to be seen. 

    There are individual football players that the Aggies will face in 2014 who are not a good matchup for the defense on paper. This is a look at some of the toughest players the Aggies will have to try to stop in 2014. 

Mike Davis, South Carolina RB

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    RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

    South Carolina's junior running back Mike Davis is one of the top running backs in the nation. The 5'9", 216-pound Heisman contender rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. 

    Davis is the type of player the Aggies defense could not have stopped in 2013. He is built like a bowling ball and is a powerful runner. The Aggies' undersized linebackers would have struggled to tackle him. 

    The Aggies will be bigger in 2014 with the 6'3", 235-pound Jordan Mastrogiovanni at middle linebacker. Whether or not they will be prepared to stop Davis and a South Carolina offensive line that returns four starters remains to be seen. 

    It will be the first game of the season, on the road in front of a raucous Gamecock crowd. The environment and Davis' strong running will make this one of the toughest assignments for the Aggies' front seven in 2014. 

Jonathan Williams, Arkansas RB

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Arkansas' junior running back Jonathan Williams presents the same problem for Texas A&M's defense that Davis presents. The 6'0", 223-pound athlete rushed for 900 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry in 2013. 

    He is a true north-south runner who likes to run through tackles. The Aggies struggled to tackle Williams, who rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries in 2013. This is another case where more size at linebacker should help the Aggies. 

    Williams will team up with Alex Collins to form one of the better running back combos in the nation. Collins rushed for 1,026 yards as a freshman in 2013 and offers a nice speed contrast to Williams' power. 

    Defenses that focus on preventing Collins from turning the corner then have to deal with Williams gashing them up the middle. Both will present issues for the defense, but Williams is the greater threat at this time. 

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State QB

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    The Texas A&M defense could not stop Dak Prescott in 2013. The 6'2", 235-pound quarterback ran through the Aggie defense for 154 yards and a touchdown in 2013. He also passed for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

    In the second half of the game, Prescott pretty much ran roughshod over A&M's defense. The Aggie linebackers would be in the right position to stop him, and he would simply run over them.

    Prescott's ability to pass makes him a true dual-threat quarterback. If the Aggies cannot force him to be one-dimensional, they could be in a lot of trouble when they travel to Starkville in 2014.

    Precott will easily be one of the most dangerous players the Aggies face in 2014. He can beat teams with his feet and arm, and he may still be too strong physically for the defense to contain.  

Derrick Henry, Alabama RB

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Derrick Henry is a 6'3", 238-pound sophomore running back for Alabama. If the Aggies are unable to contain him in 2014, they should not feel bad because defenses will be able to.

    Henry's junior teammate T.J. Yeldon is the Tide's leading returning rusher after running for 1,235 yards in 2014, but Henry is the player defenses need to fear. He is bigger and stronger than Yeldon and has legitimate 4.5 speed.

    With Yeldon in the same backfield, it is unlikely that Henry will receive enough carries to be a Heisman candidate in 2014, but he has that kind of talent. He has a size and speed combination that you rarely see on a collegiate football field.

    If the Aggies want to contain Henry, they are going to have to do it at the line of scrimmage. Once he gets to the second level, there are not many defensive backs who are going to want to tackle him.  

Nick Marshall, Auburn QB

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Nick Marshall is the 6'1", 210-pound quarterback for the Auburn Tigers. He led Auburn to 12 wins during his first season as the starter in 2012. 

    Marshall was basically a running quarterback at the start of 2013, but he developed as a passer as the season wore on. He played defensive back at Georgia in 2011, and it took him a little while to feel comfortable throwing passes at the FBS level. 

    Marshall passed for 236 yards against the Aggies in 2013, but he only completed 11 of 23 attempted passes. The 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns he gained on the ground hurt the Aggies more. 

    Marshall's ability to extend plays with his legs and pick up crucial first downs kept the Aggie defense on the field and the A&M offense on the sideline. Now that he has developed as a passer, he is an even more dangerous player and someone who is a real threat to pass for 200 yards and rush for 200 yards in a game. 

    Marshall under center is like having an extra running back on the field. He is a player the Aggies will have to contain if they want to have any chance of getting a win at Auburn.