Texas A&M football on the ground vs. the Tigers
Fans of the Maroon and White are likely well-acquainted with the issues the Aggies have had on the ground thus far this year. In the first game, the offensive line for Texas A&M football got good push up front, but the Lobos were throwing so many men at the line of scrimmage that it really didn’t matter—it’s hard to beat 9 guys with 5. The game against Miami started off well enough, but yards on the ground were hard to come by in the second half. Apart from one big run from Rueben Owens against ULM, there wasn’t a whole lot to be said about that game either.
All that said, however, this Texas A&M football team actually has overperformed against each rush defense that they’ve faced so far, exceeding the average YPC allowed that each opponent currently boasts. UNM averages giving up 4.4 YPC; the Aggies had 4.62. Miami only gives up 2.15 YPC; the Aggies had 3.34. ULM has only given up 3.79 YPC, and the Aggies notched 4.79 against them. In other words, the outlook may be a little rosier for the Aggie ground game than most previously felt. Another encouraging statistic is that Texas A&M football has a 47% rushing success rate on the season (though the big runs currently elude them, I feel like this stable of young backs will break out soon).
So all that said, how does the Auburn rush defense look? Well, in two out of three games, it hasn’t looked bad. The Tigers have allowed fewer than 3 YPC to Cal and Samford, but allowed over 5 YPC to lowly UMass (who averages just a shade over 4 YPC usually)—and that’s even after subtracting the 16 sack yards from the Minutemen’s total. Surprisingly, though they boast one of the lower total YPC allowed in the conference, the Tigers are tied for allowing the third-highest rushing success rate in the SEC behind South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Not enviable company.
Eugene Asante is a fast linebacker that can diagnose his reads quickly and get to the play, so I’d expect to hear his name a lot come Saturday. Aside from him, though, I’m not sure I feel confident in any other Auburn front seven player to make a huge impact. Their defensive line has talent, but I like the offensive line for Texas A&M football just as much, if not more so. I’d love to see the Aggies break off a big run against the Tigers on Saturday, but even if that doesn’t happen, I think Texas A&M football can use the ground game to stay ahead of the chains against the Tigers.