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Texas A&M Football

Needing a Buddy: Improved linebacker play crucial to A&M's 2022 campaign

April 7, 2022
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Everyone needs a buddy. Texas A&M needs a Buddy.

More specifically, Texas A&M needs a linebacker like Buddy Johnson.

Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the linebacker position during the Maroon & White spring football game on Saturday afternoon in College Station.

The Aggies need linebackers who can diagnose plays, fill a hole and end a run at contact.

You know, like Buddy Johnson did so magnificently in 2020.

Remember 2020?

Of course, you do. That was the brilliant 9-1 campaign in which Isaiah Spiller was running over Florida linebackers, Devon Achane was running away from North Carolina defensive backs and the offensive line was running over almost every defense it faced.

But nobody was running on the Aggies.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Edgerrin Cooper had 58 tackles and an interception as a freshman.

That season, A&M was ranked second in the nation in run defense. The Aggies allowed one run that covered 30 yards or more. Auburn’s Tank Bigsby broke loose for a 42-yard run in a 31-20 A&M victory.

Even though nine defensive starters were returning in 2021, the Aggies’ defense just wasn’t the same.

Though still a solid 35th in the nation in run defense, the Aggies allowed 13 runs of at least 20 yards and five of 30 or more.

Of course, A&M played 12 games in 2021 compared to ten in 2020.

Also, the Aggies’ defense lost more than Johnson. Like Johnson, run-stuffing defensive tackle Bobby Brown departed for the NFL. And Myles Jones, who played a physical corner in 2020, missed almost all of 2021 because of a foot injury.

Still, there was no doubt Johnson’s absence hurt A&M’s run defense.

Aaron Hansford was excellent in 2020 as an outside complement to Johnson but wasn’t as good inside in 2021.

Edgerrin Cooper showed good instincts and even better speed as a true freshman but was inconsistent.

That’s not surprising. Johnson and Hansford both needed time to develop. So did Tyrel Dodson, who preceded Johnson as an inside linebacker in 2018.

“They were guys who turned themselves into that (effective inside linebackers),” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They weren’t in those roles before they became in those roles.

“They grew and became guys that were impact guys. We had a lot of the same concerns which we have now because we lost guys that made that role.”

“I think Andre White is growing really well. I think he’s playing with a lot more consistency and physicality. He’s had his best spring by far.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

Fisher acknowledged concern at linebacker. That’s actually a positive. Previous coaches have sometimes been misleading about the prowess there.

However, Fisher did indicate some players are showing signs of developing into reliable players like Johnson.

“I think Andre White is growing really well,” Fisher said. “I think he’s playing with a lot more consistency and physicality. He’s had his best spring by far.

“Coop has done and is doing a really nice job fitting things, doing things, being athletic. If he continues… he can play in space and run and do a lot of great things.

“Chris Russell is getting better. Tarian Lee is getting better at what he does. Ish Harris is a young guy who flashes and really has come on and picked things up.”

White, a senior, started several games in 2021 and finished with 57 tackles.

Cooper had 58 stops.

Just for the record, Johnson had only 27 tackles in 2018 before he took over a full-time starting role the next season.

Maybe Cooper or White or even Harris will emerge as a dominant linebacker for the Aggies this season.

I’ll be watching closely on Saturday for any indication one of them could be A&M’s next Buddy.

Discussion from...

Needing a Buddy: Improved linebacker play crucial to A&M's 2022 campaign

3,520 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by aggieclay
Jbob04
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AG
Another season of having to worry about LB play. I do think Cooper will be dominant this year.
ABATTBQ87
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AG
Jbob04 said:

Another season of having to worry about LB play. I do think Cooper will be dominant this year.
nah, we'll be running with 6 down lineman
DeadCiv
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AG
Thank you for the dilutant to the annual flood of maroon Kool-Aid, OB.

Much appreciated.
SinKiller
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It continues to baffle in how we just can't get linebackers...
Aggie1188
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We've got one LB who has proven to be SEC. Who knows if the others could start for Big12 teams. Speed's been an issue for them.
AWP 97
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AG
It is always amazing how A&M can recruit lights out at one position and considerably poorer at others.
aggieclay
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This is probably the most concerning position for me, now.

OL has proven returning starters.
DL is, well, young but damn athletic and should be dominant again.
Corner is stacked and I think safety will be fine. Gilbert is a playmaker. Throw in Antonio Johnson and BOOM!
QB will definitely be improved.
RB is stacked, with future Heisman trophy winning stud Achane leading the way. (mark it)
WR, well, let's see. Should be much improved but, WE CAN'T REPEAT LAST YEAR AND DROP THE FREAKIN' BALL SO MANY TIMES!!!!
Last and certainly not least, Special Teams. Hopefully Caden Davis is just as accurate as Small. Punter is good.

So back to LB. We haven't recruited too well at this position.
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