Sacks and Sacked: Texas A&M pass rush as lethal as Aggies offense
Most know Texas A&M for its potent spread offense, but the Aggies have quietly put together one of the best pass rushes in the nation early this season. The Aggies lead the SEC with 19 sacks, including three in last week’s loss to Mississippi State against the highly mobile Dak Prescott.
Mississippi State is close behind with 18 sacks, including two in the win over A&M. Missouri is third with 17, including the SEC’s leader in sacks and tackles for loss in Shane Ray, and after those three programs there is a huge drop off to the rest of the conference.
South Carolina has just seven sacks in six games, which is as many as Ray has by himself in five contests this season. Arkansas has only eight sacks, but has also played one fewer game than the Gamecocks. Plus, with Arkansas’ run-heavy, ball-control offense, opposing offenses do not have an opportunity to see the field often enough for the Razorbacks to amass a hearty number of sacks.
|Team||Sacks||Sack Yards||Tackles For Loss|
|1. Texas A&M||19||91||39|
|2. Mississippi State||18||122||42|
|T11. Ole Miss||9||91||34|
|14. South Carolina||7||65||21|
When it comes to protecting against sacks, the Razorbacks are tops in the conference, once again thanks to a run-heavy Bret Bielema offense. Arkansas has allowed just one sack all season, and another run-first offense in Auburn has allowed just three.
Tennessee has been the conference’s worst team in pass protection, allowing a whopping 18 sacks in five games including six in last week’s ugly loss to Florida. The Volunteers have also allowed an SEC-worst 139 yards of sack yardage, 40 more than anyone else in the conference.
Despite allowing 10 sacks for 84 yards, Mississippi State has actually allowed the second-fewest tackles for loss in the conference with only 19, and despite ranking in the middle of the conference with nine sacks allowed, the Ole Miss Rebels have allowed a whopping 38 tackles for loss, one better than Tennessee, which is worst in the conference in that category.
|Team||Sacks Allowed||Sack Yards Allowed||Tackles For Loss Allowed|
|T6. Texas A&M||7||61||23|
|T8. Ole Miss||9||37||38|
|T8. South Carolina||9||74||24|
|10. Mississippi State||10||84||19|
As previously mentioned, Ray leads the SEC with 7 sacks in five games, and freshman Myles Garrett is close behind with 6.5 on the year. Three more players are tied for third in the SEC with 4 sacks this season, including Ray’s teammate Markus Golden. Needless to say, opposing quarterbacks have not enjoyed facing the Tigers this season.
Caleb Azubike has been one of few promising players on Vanderbilt’s roster, making plays for a defense that has spent a lot of time on the field so far this season. His high sack total may be a product of that extra time on the field, but it’s still must be nice for Vandy fans to have something to cheer for this season.
|1. Shane Ray||Missouri||DL||7.0|
|2. Myles Garrett||Texas A&M||DL||6.5|
|T3. Markus Golden||Missouri||DL||4.0|
|T3. Caleb Azubike||Vanderbilt||LB||4.0|
|T3. Xzavier Dickson||Alabama||LB||4.0|
Ray and Garrett also rank 1-2 in the SEC in tackles for loss, as Ray is averaging more than two per ballgame this season. Four of the top five sack leaders in the conference also rank among the top five in tackles for loss, with the only change coming in the form of Tennessee’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin replacing Azubike on the list.
Reeves-Maybin has been an athletic freak for the Volunteers this season, averaging more than one tackle for loss per game this season. Golden joins Ray in the top five on both lists, and he, too, averages more than a tackle for loss per contest.
Alabama’s Xzavier Dickson has been the star of the Tide’s front seven, leading the team in sacks and tackles for loss.
|Name||Team||Position||Tackles For Loss|
|1. Shane Ray||Missouri||DL||11.5|
|2. Myles Garrett||Texas A&M||DL||8.0|
|3. Jalen Reeves-Maybin||Tennessee||LB||7.0|
|T4. Markus Golden||Missouri||DL||6.5|
|T4. Xzavier Dickson||Alabama||LB||6.5|