The lion’s share of the enormous amounts of data, key presses, and hand wringing has focused on the Alabama defense’s ability to stop the A&M offense. The Aggie D has gotten far less conversation. A&M’s defense has the tall task of stopping an Alabama offense that has explosive potential all over the skill positions. Complicating things further for the Aggies (and the analysts) is the fact that many defenders have been suspended for various stupid things that stupid young people do.
Texas A&M runs a 4-3 defense under coordinator Mark Snyder. The defense relies heavily on the ability of defensive ends to win their match up against the offensive tackles. Last year, A&M had Damontre Moore patrolling the line and causing havoc in the backfield. Unfortunately, he is now in the NFL. The heir apparent coming into the season was rush end Julien Obioha. Unfortunately, Obioha has underwhelmed thus far by posting no sacks or tackles for loss for A&M.
The other defensive lineman to keep an eye out for is Kirby Ennis. Ennis is a 6-foot-4 310-pound nose guard that will give Alabama center Ryan Kelly fits throughout the game. Ennis has only started one game this year after he earned a suspension for an arrest involving a gun charge in early February.
One thing worth noting along the A&M defensive line: depth, or lack thereof. Aside from the starters, all of whom have some experience, there are a bunch of untested redshirt and true freshmen. These players have gotten valuable experience in the past two weeks against Sam Houston State and Rice, but the Tide is a whole other animal in terms of athleticism and execution. Any injury along the defensive line could be disastrous, and at the very least will force large-scale defensive adjustments from Mark Snyder.
The other big spotlight for A&M is the secondary. Unfortunately, the linebackers have been…nonexistent…which isn’t surprising given the 4-3 alignment. The secondary will be without safety Floyd Raven against Alabama. He has a collarbone injury and will not play. Raven is considered one of the most physical players on the A&M roster. He will be missed.
One player worth keeping an eye on in the secondary is cornerback Desheazor Everett. He was the player who intercepted AJ McCarron in the end zone during last year’s game in Tuscaloosa. He is one of only two A&M players to have multiple interceptions, and he has excellent coverage skills. Expect Everett to follow Alabama’s Amari Cooper wherever he goes on the field.
The Texas A&M defense will be tested in a completely different way than they have been by their previous two opponents. Alabama’s straight ahead, come-at-me style is starkly different. The lack of depth along the defensive line, and the loss of Floyd Raven, make it a dicey proposition for Texas A&M to maintain a level of success necessary to forestall the Crimson Tide offense.