Hop's UAB Game Analysis - Defense

While UAB came into Saturday's game with a porous defense ranked near the bottom of D-1 programs, the offense led by athletic quarterback Joe Webb was capable of putting up yards and points. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop grades out the defense and takes a look at the coaching decisions.

While UAB came into Saturday's game with a porous defense ranked near the bottom of D-1 programs, the offense led by athletic quarterback Joe Webb was capable of putting up yards and points. In recent years a mobile dual-threat quarterback has caused Aggie defenses headaches and has spelled trouble for the Aggie faithful. Even in 2009, a revamped Texas A&M defense had difficulties containing Utah State's dual threat quarterback which led to 30 points and a much closer than expected margin of victory. So the defense had a challenge on its hands, and they came out and met that challenge. In UAB's first six possessions of the game, the longest drive was seven plays for 10 yards. Even more impressive were the circumstances of those stops. UAB recovered the opening kickoff deep in A&M territory, and the defense minimized the damage and the momentum with a quick stop and limiting the Blazers to a field goal. Three possessions later, UAB again set up shop inside Aggie territory after a Dustin Harris fumble on a punt return. And again, the defense didn't allow UAB to take advantage, even pushing the Blazers back and forcing another field goal. By the time UAB managed its next scoring drive to begin the third quarter, A&M's offense had already put up 28 points and the route was on. Overall, UAB finished with 303 yards, but it should be noted that 83 yards came against the second team defense on the last Blazer drive of the game. During the course of the game, Texas A&M's defense forced six three-and-out possessions and four drives actually went for negative yardage. The unit finished with six tackles for loss and four sacks. It's hard not to like those numbers.


Defensive Line A-

Most of the damage came from the jack position. Von Miller continues to collect sacks at a record breaking pace. Leading the nation in sacks going into the week, Miller added two more to his season total and he's setting the table for what could be a special season for the junior from DeSoto. Matt Featherston has also done a great job and his move from linebacker to defensive end/jack has done wonders. Featherston has the quickness and athletic ability for the line, and the staff is starting to utilize both Featherston and Miller on the ends to enhance the pass rush. It helped as the duo combined for three sacks. Eddie Brown was active in the middle with five tackles and a sack, but the rest of the interior line was relatively quiet on Saturday.


Linebacker B+

The linebacking unit has a solid game. Undersized spring training sensation Michael Hodges played quite a few snaps and led the team in tackles with six. He's not going to be a dominant player and he's not very physical given his small stature. However, he will be around the ball on every down making plays, and that's why the staff plays him. I thought Jonathan Stewart made a couple of nice plays including a three yard loss. Garrick Williams may be the most improved defensive player from last year. He's usually in good position and he's been a great tackler and finisher. I also like Sean Porter's sideline-to-sideline speed. The defense will need his speed as the competition level goes up.


Defensive Backs B+

It's hard to judge the defensive backs this week. Webb wasn't a particularly accurate passer. In fact, UAB completed only 9 of 25 attempts. Yeah, some credit goes to the Aggie secondary, but that is also a reflection of the Blazers' weak passing game. Jordan Pugh had three pass break-ups, but he also received a pass interference flag for running through a receiver before the ball got there. That has been a problem before that should be corrected. Terrence Frederick and Dustin Harris had pretty good games at the corner. Frederick has come the closest to meeting Coach Sherman's challenge of putting on a signature hit to replace Quentin Coryatt's against TCU, as he laid out a UAB receiver.


OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE A- Special Teams D

The special teams had two major hiccups on Saturday. I'm not sure what happened on the pooch kick to start the game. I think the up-man was expecting the ball to bounce forward but it stuck in the turf like a high wedge shot. I've been saying all along that a true freshman punt returner will fumble a punt at some point. Harris' time came on Saturday, and frankly it happened at the best possible time. He learned his lesson, and it came with very little expense as the Aggies had this game well in-hand. I'm not too worried about it. A true freshman needs to experience something like this to learn that protecting the ball is the first priority, and a big return is the second priority. These hiccups overshadowed an otherwise nice effort by the coverage teams. I can't say enough about Kenny Brown. Ever since the middle of last year, he's been a war horse on special teams coverage. Overall, UAB did not get a yard on punt returns and averaged about 17 yards on kickoffs. You'll take that any day. The punting and kicking was adequate.
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