Five games into last season, the Aggie defense was giving up 15 points and 360 yards per game. Texas A&M’s record was 4-1 and they were on a four-game winning streak. The offense was building momentum and creating a template for what is likely considered a watershed moment for Aggie Football.
This season the Ags again sit at 4-1. The offense has not missed a beat, and many experts insist this unit is better than last year’s. It could be, as nobody other than A&M has put up 600-plus yards on the ‘Bama defense–like the Aggies did on September 14th at Kyle Field. Though the offense is as prolific as ever with Johnny Manziel under center, it is also important to note that five games into this year’s season, the Aggie defense is yielding around 30 points and 475 yards per game.
And, folks, herein lies the rub.
Last year the Aggie offense was scoring 44.6 points per game; that has risen to 49.2 points per game this season–an increase of almost five points per contest. However, the Aggie defense is giving up 15 more points per game than last year. By my count, this makes for a net of -10, and if this trend continues, times could get rough over the course of the remaining seven games.
Thus far in 2013, Aggie fans have watched and cringed when the defense has taken the field. The mantra of the 12th Man has devolved from “Wrecking Crew” to “bend, but don’t break.” The defense is playing hard and with a lot of energy; however, at some point it is possible the offense will have a pedestrian day. If that happens, there could be some hard days in Aggieland.
So, now what happens? In order for the Aggies to challenge for the SEC West Division title, they must improve on the defensive side of the ball. Fortunately, the youth appear to be growing up fast; schemes seem to be coming together; and the defense looks as if it is getting better each game. Though yards are continuing to be given up, improvement can be seen in the form of faster play, forced turnovers, and progress made with tackling. This is definitely a start–but the development needs to continue. It is definitely worth noting that this defense does not give up, not one bit. The fight in them is tremendous.
Ode to Bye Week: Thank you, scheduling Gods. With a week off, the team now has a chance to re-focus on some fundamentals, review game film, and take a breath. In two weeks we may know much more than now as to whether 2013 will have the same magical properties that 2012 delivered. If the defense takes one solid step forward each week, starting this week, 2013 could indeed be magical. Otherwise, pundits and historical accounts may simply say the most prolific offense in A&M history was hamstrung by its defense–and done so at a school once known for its Wrecking Crew.