TSD is previewing the Aggies on both sides of the ball. Below is an examination of A&M’s struggling defense, conceding 27.7 points and a mind-blowing 445.2 yards a game under third-year coordinator Mark Snyder.
Included are a look at the projected starting lineup, tidbits/stats on the Aggies defense and matchup notes that apply to LSU’s offense.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
NT: Alonzo Williams (Jr., 6-4, 290)
DT: Ivan Robinson (Sr., 6-3, 290)
RUSH: Myles Garrett (Fr., 6-5, 255)
SLB: Donnie Baggs (Sr., 6-1, 230)
MLB: Josh Walker (Fr., 6-1, 233)
WLB: Shaan Washington (So., 6-3, 227)
CB: De’Vante Harris (Jr., 5-11, 175)
FS: Floyd Raven (Sr., 6-2, 200)
BS: Howard Matthews (Sr., 6-2, 215)
CB: Deshazor Everett (Sr., 6-0, 185)
Key Backups: NICKEL Devonta Burns (Jr., 6-0, 214), LB Justin Bass (Sr., 6-2, 231), FS Armani Watts (Fr., 5-11, 190), DE Daeshon Hall (So., 6-6, 245)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- While several players have enjoyed strong individual campaigns, this A&M defense collectively has been abjectly horrible in 2014. Here are the numbers to back it up:
445.2 yards per game allowed – 102nd in NCAA, last in SEC
208.9 rushing yards per game allowed – 104th, 13th (slow clap, South Carolina)
256 total first downs allowed – T-105th, last
Minus-6 turnover margin – T-104th, 13th
- What do some of the above statistics mean? First, that this Aggies ‘D’ is highly susceptible to the run, something LSU will put to the test early and often Thursday night. Second, that teams have been able to stay on the field for chunks of time against Texas A&M, again something the Tigers will look to do a la long drives against Ole Miss and Alabama. Finally, it means that the Aggies have been not only a slow-draining sieve but also rarely get opportunistic and take possession back. A&M has caused only 11 turnovers on the season, with just four coming via interception. Four. In 11 games. That’s all the back seven has been able to muster.
- But, beyond the group-fail, several stars have shined brightly. Chief among them are Matthews, a senior safety, and Garrett, an edge-rushing presence Les Miles referred to Monday as maybe the best true freshman in the country. Garrett has compiled insane numbers behind the line of scrimmage, racking up 12.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and nine quarterback hurries, all team highs by a long shot. Both Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco figure to see plenty of the rookie. Matthews is A&M’s leading tackler with 67 total stops. He’s found his way into the passing lanes with regularity, too, breaking up eight passes this fall.
- Maybe the most relevant numbers in advance of Thursday are the ones reflecting how Texas A&M’s defense fared versus offenses somewhat similar to LSU’s. Against Arkansas, on a neutral field, the Aggies surrendered 285 yards and three touchdowns on the ground (on 47 rushes – 6.1 ypc). At Alabama, where the Aggs were eviscerated 59-0, the Tide rushed 45 times for 298 yards and four touchdowns (6.6 ypc). Spread offenses also had a field day, as indicated by Auburn going for 363 yards and four touchdowns rushing and Mizzou ripping off 335 yards and three scores on the ground. LSU’s totals may not get that high, as Miles & Co. like to slow the tempo, but it’s not hard to imagine what the Tigers’ philosophy will be (and the fact that a change at quarterback might not be as important against this opponent/defense).