4. Overcome defensive losses
Some key overturns are in place for Texas A&M’s defense, the biggest of them being the hire of D.J Durkin as the team’s defensive coordinator. This comes after Mike Elko left after the 2021 season to become the head coach for Duke. Durkin was previously co-defensive coordinator and linebacker’s coach at Ole Miss since 2020, helping raise them from a bad defense to an average one. He also has served as defensive coordinator at other large programs, including Michigan and Florida, while also having a controversial head coaching gig at Maryland.
The scheme shouldn’t expect to be changed, as that is set in place by Fisher, but Durkin has a past of leading toxic locker rooms, which is cause for concern. He shouldn’t be completely viewed by his past, but it is something to monitor.
Other key losses such as DeMarvin Leal, Leon O’Neal, and Jayden Peevy are quite impactful as well. However, there is still a ton of talent in this A&M defense. Having a strong presence in the trenches is key, especially in the SEC. With the departures of Micheal Clemons and Tyree Johnson, a lot of pressure will be on underclassmen to step up. There should be some stability on the interior with McKinnley Jackson and Shemar Turner and the addition of Walter Nolen, but the end position will have some battles between Tunmise Adeleye, Fadil Diggs, Anthony Lucas, Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy, Shemar Stewart, and others.
The back seven should be the strength of this defense with some high-level talent littered throughout. Linebackers Andre White Jr. and Edgerrin Cooper should be a duo to look out for, and the secondary should still be very dependable with Antonio Johnson and Demani Richardson roaming the outfield. This defense needs to be stout to have a chance of hitting that 10-win mark, and it comes down to how the defensive line plays.