Pass Defense for Texas A&M Football Fails First Test
I wrote for a lot of the week as though I was unconcerned with Miami’s offensive attack through the air. That’s because, right up until about 4:15 PM CT on Saturday, I was unconcerned with Miami’s offensive attack through the air. Last year against the Hurricanes, Durkin called a masterful game against Tyler Van Dyke and Josh Gattis, making the talented quarterback’s head spin with his mix of coverages on the back end. This resulted in several almost-turnovers by the Hurricanes that just barely slipped through the hands of Aggie defensive backs.
Because of this, I thought that Durkin would be able to accomplish essentially the same thing defensively this year. With that in mind, given the growth of the front seven, I thought the Aggies would be able to shut down both dimensions of Miami’s offense.
What we saw on Saturday, however, was a confusingly vanilla defense. Hardly ever were extra blitzers brought to hurry Van Dyke. When there were, it ended up being effective more often than not. But what happened most of the time was four down linemen rushed an immobile quarterback straight up—no twists or stunts to be found—and let him sit back in the pocket and throw his receivers open. I don’t like the whole “here’s how this coach should have called this” thing because I don’t know their reasons for doing things the way they do them, and those reasons could take into account the factors that I’m thinking could be improved as I watch the film. That said, it really felt like a higher dose of blitzing could have aided the Aggies. For all the talent on the defensive line, an inability to generate a pass rush to the degree that we saw on Saturday is confusing.
The encouraging thing is that we know the talent is there on the back end. This was one of the best units against the pass on a per-play basis last year. But that’s why this result was so confusing. Hopefully this can get shored up soon—though, to be fair, the next team on the schedule for Texas A&M football that can stress the Aggies downfield to this degree would likely be Tennessee in week 7, given how Auburn, Arkansas, and Alabama currently look.