Aggies must limit Alabama's run game
Every season, it seems as if the Alabama Crimson Tide have an NFL-ready offensive line blocking for their talented stable of running backs. While there may be some professional prospects lining up in the trenches for the Tide this year, they’re certainly not opening up the kind of holes you would expect from an Alabama team.
The running game was abysmal against Arkansas last week, averaging 2 yards per carry and finishing with only 66 yards on the ground. For a Nick Saban team, those kinds of numbers seem unthinkable. But Cam Robinson, Austin Shepherd and the rest of their line mates have been subpar this season, and as a result the Alabama running game has been below their usual standards.
Of course, injuries don’t help, and Alabama lost junior running back Kenyan Drake to a grisly ankle injury two weeks ago, while center Ryan Kelly has missed the better part of the last two games. Still, fellow running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, expected to be stars, haven’t lived up to expectations.
As teams do against Texas A&M and its up-tempo offense, the Crimson Tide will gear up to pound the ball and control the clock. It’ll be up to the Aggies run defense to stop it.
It’s never a good sign when a defensive back is a team’s leading tackler, but that’s the case for A&M, with Deshazor Everett topping the team, followed by fellow DB Howard Matthews. The Aggies best defensive lineman, Myles Garrett, is more of a pass-rush specialist than anything.
Last year, Texas A&M ranked dead last in the SEC against the run. While they’ve shown improvement this year, allowing nearly 50 yards fewer per game, the Aggies still rank 11th in the conference. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said earlier in the season that he’s been getting his team prepared to face ground-and-pound teams.
While Alabama clearly isn’t a team limited to running the ball, with a solid quarterback in Blake Sims and the best receiver in the country, Amari Cooper, it’s still their strength in theory. They’ll be out to test whether or not Texas A&M is actually improved.