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STEPHEN’S REPORT: #7 Alabama vs. #21 Texas A&M Preview

Bryant-Denny Stadium is the venue this week, as Alabama returns home after two straight road games. It wasn’t easy, but the Crimson Tide is 5-1 after its 14-13 victory over Arkansas. Alabama’s defense played well, but its offense has to mature quickly before Saturday’s showdown against Texas A&M.

Texas A&M Aggies: 5-2, (1-2)

The magnolia state has cooled Texas A&M down after its 5-0 start. Losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss have the Aggies on edge for Saturday’s matchup against Alabama.

He’s not Johnny Manziel, but Kenny Hill has been potent through the air this season. He’s completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,511 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Five of Hill’s seven interceptions came against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Both teams made Texas A&M’s one-dimensional and forced Hill to make bad decisions.

The Aggies will look to maintain balance on offense against the Crimson Tide. Trey Williams leads all backs with five touchdowns and 301 rushing yards. Tra Carson has four touchdowns and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Carson has 54 carries for 273 yards. James White and Brandon Williams combined have five scores. White has 138 yards rushing. Williams has 188 rushing yards.

Texas A&M’s strength offensively is at receiver. Outside of Speedy Noil (5’11”) and Malcolme Kennedy (6’0”), the Aggies’ receiving corps average size is 6’4” and taller. Josh Reynolds leads the group with 29 receptions for 476 yards and eight touchdowns. Edward Pope has 23 catches for 399 yards and four scores. Speedy Noil has totaled 27 receptions for 360 yards and three touchdowns. Ricky Seals-Jones has recorded 37 catches for 377 yards and three scores. Malcolme Kennedy has collected 33 passes for 378 yards and two scores. Texas A&M’s receivers do a great job of creating separation, locating holes in the secondary and high-pointing the ball.

Senior defensive back Deshazor Everrett anchors the Aggies on defense. Everrett has 47 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception. Myles Garrett leads the defensive in sacks (7.5) and has 33 tackles with one pass breakup. Alonzo Williams and Shaan Williams combined have 4.5 sacks. A. Williams has 29 tackles, while S. Williams has 24 stops.

Alabama Crimson Tide: 5-1, (2-1)

A return to Bryant-Denny Stadium may just be what the doctor order to help Alabama regain its confidence. The Crimson Tide ended its road trip at 1-1, but struggled on offense and special teams. Being back in front of the home crowd may light a fire under the Crimson Tide as the season moves on.

Senior quarterback Blake Sims has made some mistakes, but he has been productive nonetheless. Sims is completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 1,480 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He needs to improve on working through his progressions and getting others involved. Sims tends to focus too much on Amari Cooper. Lane Kiffin’s offensive system is built on getting every playmaker an opportunity to work.

Alabama wasn’t balanced offensively against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide looks to get its ground game going against Texas A&M.

T.J. Yeldon leads all running backs with 452 yards and two touchdowns on 93 carries. Derrick Henry has 382 yards rushing and two scores on 77 carries. Sims has 154 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries.

DeAndrew White and O.J. Howard are starting to get more involved, but Amari Cooper remains the primary target. Cooper was held to two catches for 22 yards against Arkansas. He has 54 receptions for 768 yards and five touchdowns this season. White’s collected 16 passes for 154 yards and a score. Christion Jones has 11 catches for 154 yards. Howard’s recorded six receptions for 150 yards. Chris Black has seven catches for 77 yards.

It wasn’t a vintage Alabama defense, but it played well against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide forced three turnovers and four sacks. Alabama held the Razorbacks to 89 yards rushing.

Landon Collins leads Alabama’s defense in tackles (46). He has four pass breakups and two interceptions. Reggie Ragland has been stellar for the Tide this season. He leads all linebackers in tackles (40). Ragland has a sack, two pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

Trey DePriest has 29 tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. Jarran Reed leads all defensive linemen in tackles (16). He also has a sack and five pass breakups. Jonathan Allen has 15 tackles, a sack and a blocked field goal. Xzavier Dickson has five sacks (leads team), 20 tackles and two pass breakups. Ryan Anderson has eight tackles and three sacks.

Alabama—Texas A&M Game

The Alabama—Texas A&M matchup has lived up to its hype in the past two seasons. Johnny Manziel had his Heisman moment against the Crimson Tide in 2012. He registered 345 total yards (253 passing, 92 rushing) and two touchdowns. Texas A&M defeated Alabama 29-24 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

AJ McCarron and the Crimson Tide returned the favor at Kyle Field in 2013. It was an epic shootout, but McCarron got the better of Manziel. McCarron tossed for 334 yards and four touchdowns. Manziel was intercepted twice. Alabama won 49-42 in College Station, Texas.

A loss to Mississippi woke Alabama up. A one-point victory over Arkansas really has it thinking. The Crimson Tide’s success starts with its offensive line. Austin Shepherd, Arie Kouandjio and company have to get it going.

Texas A&M’s defense looks to pressure Blake Sims and place Alabama in a world of hurt. Here is a table breakdown how both teams stack up against each other.

Alabama vs. Texas A&M 2014 stats
TAMU’s offense Alabama’s defense TAMU’s defense Alabama’s offense
43.9 points 15.3 points 22.6 points 33.2 points
168.9 rushing yards 68.2 rushing yards 174.9 rushing yards 211.3 rushing yards
15 rushing TDs 2 rushing TDs 10 rushing TDs 12 rushing TDs
396.0 passing yards 208.3 passing yards 222.1 passing yards 288.7 passing yards
26 passing TDs 6 passing TDs 9 passing TDs 12 passing TDs
564.9 total yards 276.5 total yards 397.0 total yards 500.0 total yards
47% 3rd down 33% 3rd down 34% 3rd down 52% 3rd down
2013 #1 Alabama vs. #6 Texas A&M Highlights

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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