Hop's Defensive Grades - Florida

The Texas Aggie football team once again came up just short which has been an ongoing theme for two seasons. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at how the defense performed on Saturday as well as special teams and coaching.


The defensive line was the biggest surprise of the day providing adequate pass rush and holding its own against a very experienced and physical |Florida offensive line. For those Texas and Baylor fans looking to see the Aggies dismantled and abused along the line of scrimmage, they were disappointed. Damontre Moore earned SEC defensive lineman of the week with his three sacks and constant pressure in the backfield. It was Moore's best game performance since his freshman debut two years ago. Spencer Nealy disrupted the running lanes and he jumped in there for a couple of sacks on his own. True freshman Julien Obioha made several critical stops and should have gotten a sack on the play where he had Driskel wrapped up but the refs called it an incompletion off the OL's helmet. There is room for improvement though. Take away the sack yardage, and the Florida running game still managed over 200 yards on the ground (201). But it's hard to blame the DL for the overall number when run support from other areas allowed potential modest runs to become big plays. Still, A&M can and should get more from Kirby Ennis and Jonathan Mathis. I thought Mathis showed signs of coming on in the limited snaps he took, so that's where the unit could see more production going forward.


A lot of pundits are talking about Jonathan Stewart's 17 tackle performance, and he made some nice plays. He made some tackles that prevented a long gainer. He made most plays that came to him. However, he wasn't a physical presence. He didn't step into the gap and land any big blows. He let the action come to him. Also, despite all the plays he did make, he missed on a clean blitz to the QB and he missed on a tackle of Gillislee that sprung him for a first down. He was also taken out of Gillislee's game winning touchdown when Stewart took a poor angle to the ball. But, give Stewart credit, he made most plays that needed to be made and he's stabilized the middle of the defense. In addition, Steven Jenkins (9) and Sean Porter (7) combined for 16 tackles and Jenkins was explosive on his blitz and sack of Driskel. Overall, the linebackers accounted for 33 stops. They need to give the defensive line some credit for those tackles, but I did think the unit represented well on Saturday against a very big |Florida offensive front.


Well, when your defense practices every day against a spread-it-out, pass-first offense and you start a true freshman that weighs 160 pounds, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that the Aggie cornerbacks struggled in run support. It was costly. There were no fewer than five missed tackles out on the perimeter that resulted in several third down conversions. Now, the pass coverage was pretty good as expected. The secondary had Driskel searching through his progressions and that extra time helped the pass rush get to the Florida QB for a record eight times. So the staff has a dilemma to deal with in the secondary. Do they stay with the personnel better in pass coverage and try to make some adjustments to correct the problem in the short term, or do they go with some bigger, more physical corners like Floyd Raven who showed in limited action on Saturday that he is at his best in pursuit of the ball on the perimeter. He looked shot out of a cannon running Driskel out of bounds for a 6-yard loss.

Special Teams A-

Did I see an Aggie punt turn over and travel 60 yards this Saturday? Yes. Ryan Epperson had his best day as an Aggie averaging just under 50 yards an attempt. Aside from the 60+ yard boomer that the Gators almost coughed up, I was surprised at how deep the Florida returners were setting up which was 50-55 yards back. Thus, Epperson took advantage of several kick and rolls that helped with field position most of the day. Taylor Bertolet had some nice, high kickoffs showing off an adequate leg. He also hit his one short field goal attempt. The coverage units were solid, although Floyd Raven inexplicably touched Epperson's last punt that was still rolling that would have backed up Florida near the 6-yard line. Instead, the Gators started their last drive to kill the clock at the 14 yard-line. In the post game, Coach Sumlin did not seem pleased with the overall effort.

Coaching B+

I thought Mark Snyder called a good game and pushed the right buttons strategically. He mixed up packages effectively and did a great job disguising his blitzes. He did push the envelope, blitzing 37% of the snaps and the unit did not get burned in the process. The only concern was the decision to stick with some of the undersized corners that struggled in run support when it was clear that Florida was going to rely on the run game.


Aggie Digest Top Stories