As I watched the game against Idaho, I thought the Aggie defense did a solid job, but I didn't think the unit had a spectacular effort. I thought the secondary played a little loose, but was bailed out with several bad passes and dropped balls by the Vandal offense. But after watching the game again and looking at the stat sheet, I didn't give the unit enough credit. Idaho gained 187 yards on the night, and 109 of those yards came in the fourth quarter with second and third team defenders in the game. In essence, the first team defense surrendered just 78 yards in three quarters of play. The Vandals punted on its first 10 possessions, and the longest drive against the first team was 23 yards.
Defensive Line A
Tony Jerod-Eddie added to his league-leading sack total, but really it was a balanced approach on defense that got the job done. With so many defensive linemen getting on the field Saturday, nobody put up head-turning numbers. The veterans were solid, but that doesn't garner headlines or discussion. As far as some of the younger guys, I was very encouraged with Gavin Stansbury who was active getting off the blocks and making plays on the backside. I think he has a bright future. I also thought freshman Ben Compton had a nice collegiate debut and he's got some nice power and leverage in engagement. He even got his first tackle for loss. Ben Bass also had several nice plays. Bottom line, the defensive front did its job and neutralized the Vandals' running game.
Sean Porter is emerging as the leader and the playmaker of the linebacking corps. He led the defense with 2.5 tackles for loss with losses of 15 yards along with a sack. He seems to be playing with more energy and has quietly become a formidable pass rusher in his own right despite the joker position's role as the designated outside pass rusher.
On the flip side, where has Garrick Williams gone? The senior three year starter was set for a break-out season but has been surprisingly quiet in the middle so far. He finished Saturday's game was a meek two stops. For A&M's defense to be effective now that the competition level is improving, Williams must step-up and make his presence known in the middle of the field. I was also hoping for a more productive season debut from Damontre Moore, although he had one impressive play where he shed his blocker to make a nice tackle. He needs to establish himself as a feared rusher. Tyrell Taylor is definitely fast and can get to the backfield, but he's still very light and gets swallowed up in the traffic at times. I really liked what I saw from Brandon Alexander in a limited role. I expect to see his reps increase over the next few weeks.
Defensive Back B+
I thought the secondary played a little loose at times and gave the Idaho receivers too much cushion and space early in the game, but luckily the Vandal passing game isn't very accurate. The QB missed a couple of open receivers, and in one case he missed a receiver that had a lot of green in front of him. The coverage stiffened as the game moved along. I thought Trent Hunter had the best game with a couple of very impressive pass break-ups and a couple of important stops in run support. Coryell Judie made a couple of nice plays on some long passes while both Terrence Frederick and Lionel Smith also had pass break-ups. It was great to see the deep rotation at the corner position, and this was done early in the game to keep everybody fresh. That will be a big benefit for the pass defense, especially with pass happy OSU coming to town this week.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE A-
SPECIAL TEAMS A-
The Aggies only punted three times, but from Ryan Epperson was killed at the one-yard line, and freshman Drew Kaser's second collegiate punt was a massive 68 yard boomer into the end zone. If that is a preview of things to come in the future, then finally a punter scholarship is paying dividends. This is the last piece of the puzzle if this team hopes to challenge for a conference championship. Randy Bullock has emerged as one of the best kickers in the Big 12. His one miss came on a hurried attempt that Coach Sherman took full responsibility for after the game. Coryell Judie had a nice kick return. The only area of slight concern is the punt returning. Technically, Kenric McNeal cleanly fielded all punts, but he didn't look confident and I thought he had several long, low punts that were return-friendly and he didn't get as many yards as I was expecting. On the one punt return where he managed 23 yards, he held the ball away from his body and was susceptible to a fumble. That will need to be corrected.
Hop's Defensive Grades - Idaho Game
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