A Closer Look: Texas A&M's Defense

After breaking down the Texas A&M offense for you guys yesterday, lets take a look at what the Aggies bring to the table on the defensive side of the football.

Defensive Line:
As Coach Shannon mentioned earlier in the week when talking about Texas A&M's defense, the Aggies will sometimes use a three-man front and sometimes a four-man front. The two best players are senior end Michael Bennett (#11, 6-4, 261) and junior tackle Kellen Heard (#91, 6-6, 345). Bennett, a two-star recruit coming out of high school, has gotten off to an excellent start this season. He has 17 tackles, including 3.5 for loss in two games. He had 43 tackles last season and while he's been solid there, he still has just one sack dating back to last season. Heard, who also had just one sack since last season, has five tackles so far this season but is a huge presence in the middle of the line. UM's interior offensive line will have their hands full trying to block him. For those who don't remember, Heard actually signed with Miami as a three-star recruit coming out of high school a few years ago. His test score was flagged by the NCAA at the time so he sat out the fall of 2005 before deciding to enroll at Texas A&M for the 2006 season. The other starter at end is senior Cyril Obiozor (#49, 6-4, 264), who has seven tackles this season. He finished with 39 last season and had 3.5 sacks. The other starter at tackle is sophomore Lucas Patterson (#77, 6-4, 297), who has five tackles so far this season and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school.

The Aggie front hasn't been real strong so far this season. In two games against Arkansas State and New Mexico, they're giving up an average of 5.7 yards per carry on the ground and the group has yet to collect a sack on 66 pass attempts. While Bennett and Heard give them some fairly solid players up front, this should not be one of the better defensive lines the Canes play this season so protecting Robert Marve and opening up holes in the running game should not be a major problem this week.

Junior Matt Featherston (#46, 6-2, 235) is the middle linebacker and he's been the best and most productive Aggie linebacker this season. He has 25 tackles in two games after getting just 33 a season ago as a sophomore. He was just a two-star recruit coming out of high school. Senior Jonathan Haynes (#42, 6-2, 204) is having a solid season on the weakside, with 15 tackles. Sophomore Von Miller (#40, 6-3, 214) also plays the weakside and is the best guy coming off the edge. When the Aggies line up with three down linemen, keep an eye on #40 coming off the edge. He already has one sack this season and had 2.5 a season ago. Junior Anthony Lewis (#36, 6-2, 254) provides depth in the middle and was heavily recruited coming out of high school, as he also took recruiting visits to schools like Oklahoma and Notre Dame. He had 22 tackles a season ago but has just one so far this season. Redshirt freshman Garrick Williams (#32, 6-2, 217) has a lot of people excited because of his upside and he's one to keep an eye on. A former wide receiver in high school, Williams is considered the fastest and most athletic of the bunch and already has made a few plays behind the line of scrimmage this season.

The linebacker unit is also responsible for opponents averaging nearly six yards per carry this season and they haven't done a great job of making plays in the opponent's backfield. Featherston, however, is having a big season in the middle and will be the one to keep an eye on the most.

Defensive Backs:
The top three corners for the Aggies so far this season have been senior Arkeith Brown (#18, 6-0, 174), junior Jordan Pugh (#25, 5-11, 191), and freshman Justin McQueen (#21, 6-0, 183). Big things are expected from senior Danny Gorrer (#4, 6-0, 173) this season but he struggled with a knee injury during the offseason and hasn't made much of an impact yet this season. Brown leads all the defensive backs with 15 tackles and he also has two pass deflections and an interception. The former four-star wide receiver recruit is enjoying a solid season so far. Pugh, a former four-star corner recruit, has six tackles so far while McQueen, a two-star recruit last year, has jumped into the mix and has five tackles. The safeties are led by free safety Jordan Peterson (#27, 5-10, 184), a converted cornerback, who already has 13 tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. Strong safety Alton Dixon (#9, 5-11, 197) has 14 tackles already after regustering 77 a season ago. He was a four-star cornerback coming out of high school.

While the front seven has had a hard time stopping the run and applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks so far this season, the secondary has held up pretty well so far. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 56-percent of their passes and have thrown for 314 yards and one touchdown. The Aggie defensive backs have two picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown, so far.

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