I'm going to be tougher on my grades for this week based on the competition. I'm not going to grade on the non-D1 competition curve. So while 223 yards of total offense by the opponent is impressive on the surface, there were some concerns particularly in pass defense. There were several plays that had open SCSU receivers streaking across the field on what looked to be potential big gainers and even scoring plays. However, the Aggie defense was let off the hook with errant throws and dropped passes. Giving up 14 points sounds pretty good until you look at some missed opportunities and lack of execution by a poor Bull Dog offense that could have put up 21-28 points. With Tyler Wilson and Cobi Hamilton of Arkansas connecting for over 300 yards, Coach Yates will be working hard this week to tie up some of these loose ends in pass coverage.
The surprise unit on this year's team is a surprise no more. The front four dominated the line of scrimmage, limiting South Carolina State to just 71 yards rushing. Damontre Moore continues his torrid pace, registering another sack to his nation's leading total and added three tackles for loss an several QB hurries. I was impressed with Tyrell Taylor's pass rush mainly with the second unit. He collected a sack and harassed the SCSU QB several times. Ivan Robinson had a sack and looked very explosive chasing down the SCSU QB outside the pocket and forcing a throw away. Even Gavin Stansbury got into the act with four tackles.
The linebacker corps had a quiet night, but made no glaring mistakes. At times, there were some spacing issues when Snyder had three linebackers on the field. But frankly, Snyder ran a lot of 4-2-5 schemes with only two linebackers on the field. Either the front stuffed the runs or SCSU tried to throw down field. The group combined for just 11 stops and one TFL, but that was by design given the schemes called.
Deshazor Everett had the pick six and once again Devante Harris is proving to be one of the best freshman cover corners we've seen come through College Station. However, on the other side guys like Dustin Harris and Floyd Raven really struggled covering the post route. Early in the game, Harris gave up inside position to his man without any safety protection over the top. An accurate pass and that play goes for a long touchdown. Luckily, the struggling South Carolina St. QB threw behind his man and the stat book registered an incompletion. The same thing happened again in the third quarter but the receiver dropped the pass. Then in the fourth quarter, the SCSU receiver once again beat his man on the post who by this time was Floyd Raven. This time they connected on SCSU's second touchdown, but it could have been another two scores against a better offense. That won't cut it against Tyler Wilson.
Special Teams A+
It was the Dustin Harris show. He set both a Texas A&M record and an SEC record for most punt return yards in a game. But you have to give the rest of the return team credit. Aside from the 96-yard touchdown, the other returns were set-up by excellent blocking with plenty of space for Harris to generate a nice return. We talked about how much time and effort the coaches put into special teams during August practices, and it has definitely paid off through the first three games.
With the Aggie front four able to control the line of scrimmage, Coach Snyder was able to utilize five defensive backs most of the game, either employing a 4-2-5 or a 3-3-5. A&M was going to win this game, so the strategic side of coaching wasn't as important as it will be for every game going forward.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE B
Hop's Defensive Report Card - SCSU
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