Alabama Football: Conventional wisdom about Aggies may not be correct

Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News /

The most widespread opinion of what will be the focus of the Texas A&M defense is the Aggies will seek to shut down the Alabama Football rushing attack. It is widely presumed the Aggies will load the defensive box and challenge Jalen Milroe to win the game with his arm.

Such a strategy is reasonable given Alabama’s inconsistencies in the passing game. The Crimson Tide has been steadily improving but the Tide’s rushing attack is No. 82 in the FBS at 4.09 yards per carry. In that stat, the Crimson Tide is an unimpressive ninth in the SEC.

Compare the Alabama rushing average to Texas A&M’s rushing defense and it begs the question, do the Aggies even need to load the box? Texas A&M is No. 3 in the FBS (behind Missouri and Kentucky) for Rushing Defense, at a yards allowed per carry average of 2.88 yards.

A deeper dive into the Alabama Football vs. Texas A&M game

If the Aggies’ defensive front is such a stone wall, how is it that Auburn had three running backs that averaged from 5.9 to 7.4 yards per carry against Texas A&M? Auburn has some good running backs, but are they as a group better than Alabama’s running backs? Possibly, but I seriously doubt they are.

Is Auburn’s band-aid offensive line, made up of transfers from lesser programs, better than the Alabama Crimson Tide? That answer is absolutely not.

Texas A&M has a strong defense, rated as the 15th best in the FBS by ESPN Analytics. An argument can be made the Aggies have the best group of four defensive linemen in college football. But since Auburn had success running on the Aggies, it makes sense Alabama does not need to be pass-happy Saturday afternoon. Auburn running backs gained over 150 yards against the Aggies and that was with a passing attack that produced only 56 yards.

Pass protection will be key for Alabama, but the Crimson Tide can have success through the air. Statistically, the Aggies’ passing defense is highly rated, but those numbers are skewed by three games against teams with terrible passing offenses (New Mexico, Auburn, and ULM).

Notes: Stats provided by ESPN and

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While I expect a close game, my perspective is the A&M offense will have more trouble with Alabama’s defense, than the Tide offense will have with the Texas A&M defense. Offensive balance will be needed, but the Crimson Tide should not hesitate to run right at them.