Defense for Texas A&M Football Crushing Opponents
I spent a fair amount of my Notable Numbers column praising the performance of this Texas A&M football defensive unit, but I still don’t feel like I’ve spilled enough ink on just how dominant the Aggie D has been over the last two weeks. I’ll start with this: the Aggie defense allowed 3.11 yards per play to the Hogs. That’s the lowest against any conference (or Power 5, for that matter) opponent since the Aggies blanked Vanderbilt in 2015–and the lowest against any Power 5 school not named Vanderbilt or Kansas since at least 2009. Here are the five lowest YPP allowed by Aggie defenses to Power 5 schools going back to ‘09 (which is the furthest back I can get stats from cfbstats.com):
- 2011 Kansas (2.37 YPP)
- 2015 Vanderbilt (2.47 YPP)
- 2023 Arkansas (3.11 YPP)
- 2023 Auburn (3.13 YPP)
- 2021 Auburn (3.23 YPP)
In other words, the third and fourth-lowest yards-per-play marks the Aggies have allowed to Power 5 competition in the last 14 years have come in the last two games. And the only teams who were lower are ones who, for long stretches of their time competing in football, have basically been punchlines.
This is also illuminating insofar as answering those who say that the defense for Texas A&M football is only achieving this due to the terrible offenses they are facing. Now, those in that camp are much quieter following this week’s results—it’s much harder to make a case that Arkansas is terrible offensively based on their previous results than it was Auburn, and the Tigers acquitted themselves against a legit defense in UGA. Even if it were the case that these were both particularly bad offenses compared to the normal Auburn or Arkansas team, it is still remarkable that the YPP number was this low.
It is the lowest number for Arkansas since they were blanked by Missouri in the final game of 2018 (2.92 YPP in that one); lower than when they got shut out at UGA in 2021 (which was one of the best defenses of the modern era and held them to only 3.60 YPP) or lost 52-3 to Alabama in their final game of 2020 (3.13 YPP). All this even with the fact that the Aggies gave up a 48-yard pass at the end of the game and a 38-yard screen pass in the second quarter! If you take those two plays out (which of course is not how statistics work, but this is to demonstrate the consistent dominance of the Aggie defense for most of the afternoon), the Hogs averaged 1.62 yards per play. Their 1.08 YPC mark is the lowest they have had in any game since notching 0.84 YPC against LSU in 2018. For Auburn, their 3.13 YPP against the Aggies was their lowest since the 2021 Iron Bowl, where they averaged 2.41 YPP. The 2.4 YPA mark they recorded was their lowest since the 2016 UGA game, where Shaun White et. al. averaged a mere 1.7 YPA.
The upshot is this: you cannot achieve either one of these results without playing excellent and cohesive defensive football, which is exactly what this Texas A&M football team is doing. It is not due to the ineptitude of the team you are facing—I am not saying that that has nothing to do with it, but it is not the main explicative factor here. To achieve both of these results in a single season against Power 5 opponents that have otherwise exhibited mid-level offensive prowess at the very least, and to do it in back-to-back games, is remarkable. It’s time to face facts: this defense for Texas A&M football is a strength, no matter what reactionary articles were written following week 2.