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Aggies Have Two Big Defensive Problems

After another late-game loss in a season filled with disappointment, the Aggies have a couple of big problems. It all stems from the defense, as the Aggies are now giving up over 400 yards per game and over 300 yards per game through the air.

Against Missouri, Oklahoma State and Arkansas (and to a lesser extent, Texas Tech), the Aggies got shredded in the second half through the air. Those teams are pretty good passing offenses, but still...

So, what's going on with the Aggies? Why are they giving up so many yards and what changed so drastically from last season?

The easiest reason to point to is Von Miller playing with the Denver Broncos. His six sacks leads the Denver defense and prove he wasn't just a product of A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter's scheme. The problem is his scheme has looked vulnerable without another dominant pass rusher. 

A&M only has two players with four or more sacks this season and one of those players, Tony Jerod-Eddie, had three of his four sacks against SMU in the first game of the season. Sean Porter leads the team with 8 1/2 sacks, but no one else is even close to that total. Porter also doesn't have the natural pass rush moves or size of Von Miller, which means he can't beat double or triple teams to get to the quarterback.

That's one of the reasons why the Aggies only have two sacks in each of its last two games. Sophomore outside linebacker Damontre Moore has been most disappointing, totaling just 2 1/2 sacks this season despite showing promise opposite Miller last season. If the Aggies want to be successful moving forward, they need to get to the quarterback better.

An improved pass rush will also help the second-biggest problem right now, the secondary. The Aggies are playing without a starting safety and cornerback in Stephen Campbell and Coryell Judie. That means A&M is able to be exploited with teams throwing away from Terrence Frederick

Judie has been dealing with injuries for the past few weeks and just hasn't been playing at the level he's shown in the past. Campbell's loss, too, hurt because he was A&M's best cover safety. Trent Hunter is good, but has never been great in being that free safety-type. With so many new personnel, teams are able to pick on the weaker links and put up some impressive passing numbers when it matters. 

The two problems dovetail together. With a better pass rush, the Aggies would be able to take some pressure off the secondary. Having to cover for less time may let players like Howard Matthews play better in the long-run and maybe make some plays.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.