Hop's Defensive Grades - KSU Game

Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the defensive side of the ball and how the unit performed against the Wildcats on Saturday.

For the third straight game, the Texas Aggie defense gave up more than 400 yards. But the numbers don't tell the true story of how bad this performance was against a once-mediocre Kansas State offense. The 62 points certainly wasn't all on the defense. In fact, one touchdown came off the special teams and four other touchdowns came on drives less than 30 yards. Five offensive turnovers will tend to do that. However, even in those situations deep in Aggie territory, the defense barely put up a fight. We're talking about a lumbering tight end finding himself 10 yards behind the secondary coverage and running backs galloping through gaping holes untouched into the end zone. This defense has given up its share of yards and points this season, but typically the opponent had to earn those yards with an A&M defender in range on every play.

But on Saturday, this performance was a flashback to the hideous defensive performances last year and back into the Franchione era when players looked lost and defeated. That's the way it looked on Saturday. The unit had little energy and seemed to absorb blocks instead of being aggressive and taking the fight right to the offense. The players played slow, and it appeared they were running in mud compared to the KSU players that blew by them on many occasions during the game. It was a complete breakdown and failure in every facet of the game…poor run support and tackling, very little pash rush, poor coverage both underneath and over the top. Saturday's performance was right up there with some of the worst in recent program history – and that's saying a lot!

Defensive Line F

The defensive line was physically manhandled all night. The KSU offensive line was opening up holes so big an 18-wheeler could drive through it. When a defense gives up 260 yards rushing, you have to look at the big men up-front and ask why they couldn't hold the trenches and stop backs from running downfield on every attempt.

Linebacker F

The only performance worse than the defensive line was the effort of the linebackers. Some of the outside backers missed some clean tackles and that's always a killer. However, I was most shocked at the play of the inside linebackers who were virtually non-existent on running plays. Well, make that pass plays too. When a lead blocker came through the huge running lane with either Michael Hodges or Kyle Mangan waiting near the line of scrimmage plugging the hole, they were taken out of the play easily. Hodges is a gamer, but he's simply too small to effectively take on a pulling guard or fullback. Mangan didn't once attempt to the shed his blocker, but instead locked up with his blocker and made it easy for his opponent to neutralize him as the running back slithered past unscathed into the secondary. The Aggies most glaring weakness on defense right now is at that inside linebacker spot.

Defensive Back F

I don't know what happened here. Obviously there were many assignment breakdowns when you have a 265 pound tight end running free behind the coverage. What also surprised me was that Terrence Frederick lost his man on severa occasions and that is not like him. Granted, he was facing the speedster Brandon Banks but he'll face much better receivers in his career and he can't let 4.3 guys gain early separation like he did.


Special Teams F

Take a weak-legged punter hitting low punts with a coverage team that bunches up and follows the ball and you have a recipe for long punt returns. Take a weak-legged kickoff kicker who kicks it short and low and add in that same suspect coverage spacing and you have a recipe for a 90 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

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