A Closer Look at the Texas A&M Defense
When you look closely at the Texas A&M Aggies defense in 2020, you see a unit that returns eight of eleven starters from a season ago. Of course, experience is the best teacher, and the prospects for that group should be higher this time.
However, the numbers for a season ago weren't to the standards of previous Aggies defensive units from a conference perspective.
In 2019, the Aggies allowed 22.5 points per game while giving up 130.7 yards rushing and another 209.5 yards through the air. That's a total of 340.2 yards per game. However, the biggest issue defensively for the Aggies was their turnover margin of -6, which placed them dead last in the SEC and one-hundredth in the nation last season.
They couldn't get takeaways, particularly in critical situations late in games that cost them in some of their five losses in 2019. That number must improve for them this season if they are to take the next step towards the top of the conference.
The Aggies return five players with starting experience to their front four, including Tyree Johnson, Demarvin Leal, Jayden Perry, Bobby Brown Jr., and Michael Clemons.
Johnson at defensive end is undersized at 6'4" 240, but speed and quickness are his forte. Brown Jr. is the big body inside at 6'4" 325 while Perry tips the scales at 6'6" 295-pounds and can hold his own against most anyone in the conference inside.
Clemons (6'5" 270) and Leal (6'4" 290) are projected as the leaders, though on their initial depth chart, Leal is not listed as a starter and is the backup to Clemons.
The Aggies employ just two linebackers in their 4-2-5 alignment, so having one of two returning in that area is a solid thing. Senior Buddy Johnson is the leader as the returning starter at middle linebacker while fellow senior Aaron Hansford currently holds the starting spot at weakside linebacker.
Of the five positions in the Aggies defensive secondary, three will be manned by returning starters in cornerback Myles Jones, safeties Leon O'Neal Jr and Demani Richardson.
Travon Fuller assumes the role at one corner while Devin Morris has earned the position as the nickel for this group.
Richardson is the leader and is only a sophomore, but his physical play a season ago has earned him the respect of his teammates across the defense.
How much this group can improve from last season will be a key for head coach Jimbo Fisher's team this season. Expectations are tempers at this point, according to sources with knowledge of the Aggie's situation. However, there is no doubt that the talent exists for this group to be very good defensively.
The Commodores offense, with an inexperienced quarterback, will have their hands full regardless as the Aggies will be looking to get their season off to a good start with a victory. How well the young commodores can handle pressure and protect the football against turnovers will be a significant factor and one to watch in this match-up.