Texas A&M Football 2017: Midseason report card and position grades

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /
8 of 10

Heading into 2017, this was a unit that garnered a ton of press in the off-season.  With Armani Watts and Donovan Wilson returning at safety, some could argue this was a top five duo nationally. The question marks were at corner. Who would start? Who would play nickle? And with Nick Harvey’s health in question, the staff had to get several guys up and ready to go.

Starting with UCLA in LA would be a great test to see if the staff found the right guys and were they in the right places. The pregame depth chart listed Priest Willis at right corner, Charles Oliver at left corner and DeShawn Capers-Smith at nickle.

As with the offensive line, the secondary threw us a curve ball early. Willis did not get the start, that went to Myles Jones and for almost three quarters the decisions made with the secondary were working. Even after Wilson went down, the secondary played well before Josh Rosen got going. With Wilson out, we turned the spot opposite Watts to Larry Pryor and Derrick Tucker.  Both have played well, but missing Wilson in the run game has hurt in some situations.

The defense is giving up 244 yards per game through the air. For the most part, the secondary has played very well, you’re always going to give up yards just based on the scheme you’re running. Where I have issues is we’ve giving up some really big plays in the passing game. Times when you cannot get to the quarterback, the secondary needs to be able to pick the defense up.

The last two games leave you thinking we’ve made strides but honestly Alabama and Florida do not scare you in the passing game. Mississippi State will not either, but Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU will take chances. Will Watts and crew be ready to go? We will have to wait and see if the youngsters are ready to go.

Second half notes

The grade has only improved since UCLA and outside of a play or two against Nicholls and South Carolina, this grade could be an A. If we beat the teams left on our schedule it will be because the secondary rose to the occasion and eliminated the big play. I want to see teams try to drive the field against this defense.