September 4, 2006

Defense makes the grade

It was the tale of two halves for the Aggie defense. In the first half, A&M had a hard time stopping the quarterback draw and the short Bulldog passing game. In fact, The Citadel nearly out-gained the Aggies in the first half, rolling up roughly 170 yards of offense, which included an 18-play, 77-yard drive that led to their only score of the night. And it could have been worse in the first half, but Bulldog receivers dropped several passes downfield that should have been caught.

However, in the second half, the defense was salty. At the 13-minute mark of the fourth quarter, The Citadel had a total of 15 yards on offense and did not have a first down in the second half. They finished the half with just 65 yards gained and three first downs while being shutout after halftime.

Overall, most people expected a more dominating performance against a lightly regarded Division I-AA opponent. While the A&M defense looked sluggish and leaky in the first half, the second half performance should give Aggie fans hope, especially when the offense fumbled and lost the ball three times, forcing the defense to defend a short field.

Defensive Line: C-

On paper, the defensive line has the most talent, and they are now a veteran group. Thus, the expectations are higher, and the high grades tougher to earn. That's why Saturday's effort comes in below average. The line wasn't dominating. In fact, the line consistently got plenty of push along the line of scrimmage as expected against The Citadel.

However, the line as a whole seemed to lack the quickness and speed to disrupt the Bulldog offense. At times they appeared almost sluggish as Citadel quarterback Duran Lawson weaved his way through traffic on numerous quarterback draws.

With the one exception where Chris Harrington beat his man on the edge to get a nice blindside sack, the Aggie line did not have the quick rush element to put immediate pressure on the quarterback. And that's the key for this defense. The defensive line must force some hurried throws from opposing quarterbacks. Otherwise, A&M will be picked apart by Big 12 offenses.

The line definitely has the power, but somebody like a healthy Michael Bennett is needed to add the speed and quickness element to this unit.

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