Texas A&M Football: Alabama loss shows Aggies are a year away


The Texas A&M football team needs another year to mature and gain experience under their new coaches before they can compete for an Southeastern Conference title.

The Texas A&M football team is a year away from competing for an Southeastern Conference championship and a spot in the college football playoffs. The Aggies’ 41-23 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide exposed major flaws in the team that will not be fixed in 2015.

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In order to compete at the highest level in the SEC you need to be exceptional at the line of scrimmage. You need to be able to run the ball and stop the run. The Texas A&M football team can do neither effectively right now, and that is why they will not be SEC champions in 2015.

Entering the contest with Alabama, the Aggies had questions on the offensive line and at linebacker. The offensive line had struggled to find consistency during the Aggies 5-0 start to the season. The rushing statistics looked good on paper, but Texas A&M has not been able to consistently run the ball when they had to run the ball.

Part of the issue is a lack of depth at running back where senior Tra Carson has been asked to carry the load. Multiple injuries at the position have left Carson as the only viable option in most games.

Carson is a solid SEC running back who runs with power, but he is not a threat to score from 50 yards out. The Aggies do not have a home-run threat at the running back position. Against teams like Alabama you need a running back who can outrun a linebacker in coverage, and Carson is not that type of player.

The Aggies second leading rusher entering the Alabama game was quarterback Kyle Allen with 136 yards. Allen has decent mobility but he is more of a pocket passer than a dual-threat quarterback. After five games, Allen should not be one of the team leaders in rushing.

The main issue with the running game is that the offensive line is not getting a good push. This is particularly a problem on the interior of the offensive line. The Aggies averaged 1.3 yards per rush against Alabama.

Texas A&M running backs combined for 50 yards on 14 carries against the Tide. That is only 3.6 yards per attempt. With Allen having an off day, the Aggies’ inability to run the ball spelled doom for the offense.

Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies tackle Germain Ifedi (74) in action against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M offensive line coach Dave Christensen was hired during the offseason to improve the Aggies’ running game. It has become readily apparent that the task will be too much to accomplish in one year.

The Aggies also struggled to stop the run against the Tide. Alabama rushed for 258 yards on 45 carries. They averaged 5.7 yards per rush attempt. Junior running back Derrick Henry rushed for 236 yards by himself and averaged 7.4 yards per carry.

The Aggies’s front seven defenders are simply not good enough as a group to stand up to the more physical fronts in the SEC. Texas A&M has some very talented defensive linemen, but they are all sophomores or juniors.

They are still not physically ready to compete on a down for down basis with the Alabama’s of the world. Another season in the weight room and defensive coordinator John Chavis’ system should yield some improvement. However, they are simply not up to the task at this point.

Alabama entered the game averaging 188.8 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. The Aggies allowed the Tide to rush for 1.1 yard more per attempt than their season average.

The Aggies will lose two senior starters at defensive tackle in 2016 but the most talented interior linemen are underclassmen. Seniors Julien Obioha and Alonzo Williams start on the interior for the Aggies and have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss through six games. True freshman defensive tackle Daylon Mack has six tackles for loss by himself.

The best linebacker on the field for the Aggies was true freshman Richard Moore. He had three tackles with two tackles for loss against the Tide in the first appearance of his college career. When Moore adds some weight to his 6’0″, 215-pound frame, he should be a much more effective linebacker for the Aggies.

Texas A&M will likely lose four starters on offense and four on defense to graduation and the NFL draft after the 2015 season. They will have to rebuild the right side of their offensive line and find two new corners, but the nucleus of the team will return.

The Aggies are extremely talented at the skill positions. They will have more depth at running back in 2016 when Kendall Bussey is healthy and Keith Ford is eligible after sitting out a year for transferring from Oklahoma. They simply need to improve in the trenches in order to compete at the highest level.

One season under Christensen and Chavis is not enough to turn the offensive line and defense around, especially when you only have nine seniors combined on the depth chart. The 2015 Aggies have the talent on the roster to win an SEC title, but they do not have the experience. They are simply not strong enough in the trenches yet.

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