Alabama Football: Texas A&M Aggies Defensive Preview


The Texas A&M defense is hoping to pull off the improbable against Alabama football. The unit will attempt to slow down an offense that is fourth in the country in total offense and points per game. Additionally, A&M will likely have to waste some preparation time this week, as it is uncertain of which Alabama quarterback it will be defending.

Strictly in terms of talent, this Aggie defense should be the strength of the team, and one of the best defenses in the nation. A&M has recruited extremely well on the defensive side of the ball, and particularly on the defensive front.

Texas A&M has landed 11 defensive linemen ranked in the 247Sports top-100 in the past three recruiting cycles. This includes one 5-star in the 2021 class (Shemar Turner) and four 5-stars in the 2022 class (Walter Nolen, Shemar Stewart, LT Overton, and Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy).

Although some of these players have been limited in their contributions due to injury, the Aggie defense has still underperformed relative to its talent. While it ranks 24th having allowed just 17.8 points per game, the TAMU defense has allowed 358.6 yards of total offense per game (58th). This bend-but-don’t-break approach will likely be unsuccessful against better competition.

Alabama Football: Establishing the run vs TAMU

Surprisingly, the Texas A&M run defense has been a major weakness thus far. The Aggies’ loaded defensive line has surrendered 170.2 YPG on 4.4 YPC, ranking 97th in the country.

Considering Alabama Football is finding its stride in the run game and may start Jalen Milroe at quarterback this week, it would behoove A&M to quickly figure out how to stop the run.

The Crimson Tide is currently running for over 250 yards per game at a nation-leading 7.4 yards per carry clip. The Bama offense also spreads its touches out to several different players, which makes it even more difficult to defend.

Jahmyr Gibbs (8.8 YPC), Jase McClellan (7.3 YPC), Jamarion Miller (7.3 YPC), and Roydell Williams (5.5 YPC) all have at least 20 rushing attempts on the season. Even Bryce Young averages 8.6 yards per carry on 18 attempts. Milroe is currently averaging 13.6 yards per carry in limited opportunities.

Alabama Football: How will the passing game look?

If A&M commits extra bodies to slow down this electric running game, it could lean on its secondary to try to limit the pass. Alabama’s passing offense has put up 273.6 yards per game (37th in FBS), and has not been a relative strength.

Alabama receivers have struggled with drops, and have only recently started to make big plays through the air. Still, the sheer number of pass-catching weapons the Tide has at its disposal makes it tough to defend.

Junior Traeshon Holden, sophomore Ja’Corey Brooks, junior Jermaine Burton, and senior tight end Cameron Latu join the running backs to give Alabama a lot of options in the short passing game. Freshmen Kobe Prentice and Isaiah Bond have shown the ability to win vertically, and sophomore Jojo Earle is working his way back into the rotation after an injury.

For Texas A&M, the secondary has been arguably the best unit on the team. Safeties Demani Richardson, Antonio Johnson, and Jardin Gilbert have been among the best players in DJ Durkin’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme. They have played a big role in A&M’s pass defense, which is ranked 29th nationally allowing 188.4 YPG.

Richardson is a four-year starter who has 25 tackles, three pass breakups, and two forced fumbles on the season. In his career, he has 197 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and two interceptions. Johnson, like Richardson, is a big and physical defensive back with plenty of experience. He leads the Aggies with 46 tackles and has registered a sack. Jardin Gilbert is a sophomore with 32 tackles and an interception this season.

It’s difficult to predict how Durkin will attempt to defend the Crimson Tide. Much of their plan, and its success, may depend on who starts at quarterback for Alabama.

Next. King to start at QB for Aggies. dark

Regardless, the balanced Crimson Tide attack should prove to be overwhelming for a defense that has been disappointing in 2022.