Can the Aggies' defense finally slow down Alabama?
In a game where its offense looked completely out of sorts, Texas A&M’s defense saved the day.
The Aggies came up with 2 interceptions in the second half against Vanderbilt on Saturday, including one late in the 4th quarter with the Commodores threatening to score. The stellar play of the defense was a bit overshadowed, however, by the poor offensive showing.
But without it, A&M wouldn’t have eked out that 17-12 victory.
“I thought they played well at the end of the game, but they gave up too much at the beginning,” coach Jimbo Fisher said postgame. “Just critical momentum things like giving up drives and field position. But at the end of the game with those critical sacks and critical turnovers, they did a good job. They made big plays when they had to make them.”
As promising as the defense looked in the season-opener, the competition is about to get a lot tougher. The Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa this week to face No. 2 Alabama. After that they get No. 3 Florida, which looked dominant offensively against Ole Miss.
The Crimson Tide put up 38 on Missouri last week and have a history of high scoring against the Aggies. They delivered a 47-28 drubbing last season and scored 45 against them in Fisher’s first season.
Can A&M keep the momentum going from its performance against Vanderbilt?
Given the way the offense played in the opener, the team may find itself leaning more on the opposite unit this season. The defense is loaded with experience, starting only one underclassman in sophomore safety Demani Richardson.
They certainly looked more comfortable when the game was on the line. However, like Fisher said, they weren’t without issues either. They allowed the Commodores to convert a little less than half of their 3rd downs (7-for-17) and also go 1-for-1 on 4th.
The Aggies also made a pattern of letting big games get away from them last season. They gave up 50 points to LSU and 30 to Mississippi State. The offense simply can’t keep up with those kind of numbers. Inconsistency from either unit isn’t likely to lead to victories.
Obviously asking A&M to hold the Crimson Tide to the same number of points they did Vanderbilt is ludicrous. However, it would be nice to see the Aggies put together a few stops, especially if the offense struggles to find its footing again.
Micheal Clemons came up with the big sack on 3rd down that forced Vanderbilt to punt. Before that, it was Leon O’Neal Jr. coming away with the interception. The Aggies will need their veteran leadership Saturday along with that of linebacker Buddy Johnson.
A&M survived a scare this past week. While alarming, it’s still (for now) in position to achieve everything it wanted to at the beginning of the season.
It is commonly said that defense wins championships. If that is what Aggies aspire to do this season, they will need to hope that what we saw Saturday will be the norm.