Matchup Previews for Texas A&M Football vs. Tennessee
Texas A&M football has a key matchup this weekend on the road against the Volunteers. Many pundits had this one circled in the preseason as a matchup that would be key for the Aggies in 2023, both due to its location on the schedule—immediately following Bama and preceding a bye—and the style of play that the Aggies would be going against. With half the season gone, though, both teams are shaping up slightly differently than anticipated, so let’s check in on how these matchups might go.
Tennessee Ground Game vs. Rushing Defense for Texas A&M Football
This is the premier matchup between these two teams when Big Orange has the ball on Saturday. Tennessee ranks second in the nation on a yards per carry basis, consistently exceed opponent rushing success rates allowed, and boast the highest PPA per rush in the conference. Conversely, the Aggies stifle opposing rushing attacks; they rank sixth in the nation on a yards per carry allowed basis, have yet to allow any opponent to gain more than 75% of their YPC average or 77% of their rushing success rate average, and have the best defensive PPA per rush in the conference. Though I think the Vols have a good front and tailbacks, I foresee the Aggies being able to effectively stop the run game with light boxes.
Advantage Score: Aggies by 3
Tennessee Passing Game vs. Pass Defense for Texas A&M Football
Despite their reputation as a high-flying team, the Tennessee passing game has somewhat disappointed this year. Joe Milton has not exactly picked up where Hendon Hooker left off, despite his clear passing talent. This is a system that will stress you down the field no matter what—the biggest area of concern for this Texas A&M football team’s defense—but the Vols also lost their top weapon at receiver, Bru McCoy, to injury in their previous game. Heupel will doubtless take some shots, but if the Aggies are consistently putting the Vols in obvious passing situations, they can take advantage. Tennessee has only a 29% success rate on passing downs—the worst in the conference—and the Aggies allow only a 20% success rate on such downs—the best in the conference.
Advantage Score: Aggies by 1
Tennessee Offensive Line vs. Pass Rush for Texas A&M Football
After three straight weeks of facing teams that do a very poor job at protecting the passer, the Aggies now face a Tennessee offensive line that has given up very few sacks on the year. Part of this is just how quickly the passing game often goes for the Vols, and dialing up those quick passes and screens will no doubt be part of the game plan to neutralize the Aggies’ pass rush (best in the nation in sack rate). Still, I don’t think the Vols have the talent up front to consistently win in pass-rush situations, so if A&M can take care of the underneath plays and put Tennessee behind the chains, I think the Aggies will be able to get home. They just have too much talent up there.
Advantage Score: Aggies by 3