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Texas A&M Football

Texas A&M must fix defensive issues, and fast, to have success in 2023

September 13, 2023
11,173

Those lyin’ eyes just cannot be trusted.

We see the Aggies play football, but it disturbingly looks like “Whac-A-Mole.”

One problem disappears, and another pops up.

That appeared to be the case last week in the college football arcade known as Hard Rock Stadium. There, the Aggies pounded away at Miami’s run game only to have major problems in pass defense surface.

You saw the game.

You saw a moribund pass rush. You saw Miami slice through A&M’s secondary. You saw defensive backs get beat on deep passes. You saw them miss tackles. You saw them allow a whopping 241 yards after the catch.

You saw defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin’s futile attempts to contain Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who passed for 374 yards and five touchdowns.

Well, that’s what you thought you saw. You can’t trust those lying eyes.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said you didn’t see Durkin struggle.

“He did a good job,” Fisher said. “Played the run extremely well. Played a great first game. We give up a couple of deep passes. We’ve got to get a little more pressure. D.J.’s a very good coach and does a good job and knows what he’s doing.”

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
A&M allowed a whopping 374 yards through the air in a 44-38 loss to Miami

True, the Aggies played the run well. They’re currently ranked 30th in the nation in run defense. That’s an incredible jump from last season when they ranked 123rd.

True, the Aggie defense played great in the first game. That was against New Mexico, which hasn’t scored more than 14 points against a Power 5 opponent since 2016.

But to say Durkin did a good job against Miami just doesn’t ring true.

Miami’s offense scored 37 points. The Hurricanes covered 75 yards in 44 seconds for a touchdown that gave them a 21-17 lead with 13 seconds left in the first half.

Players also need to be held accountable.

Coverages were busted. Little pass pressure was applied. Tackles were missed. Sometimes poor effort was given.

Who coaches those players, many of whom were five-star and five-star recruits coveted by almost every program in the country?

A&M’s primary problem in 2022 was a bland offense that struggled to reach the end zone. Thus, Fisher brought in offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino.

The Aggies have scored 85 points in two games. Last season, that took four games and required help from a Devon Achane kickoff return (vs. Appalachian State) and a Demani Richardson fumble return (vs. Arkansas).

Petrino appears to have saved the offense.

Petrino appears to have saved the offense. But who’s going to save the defense? Fisher is adamant Durkin will.

But who’s going to save the defense?

Fisher is adamant Durkin will.

“He knows football,” Fisher said. “He knows football very well. He knows as much football as anybody. We’ve just got to execute. We’ve got to get the calls. Put them (players) in the right thing. Get the right matchups for our guys.”

Get players to execute. Make correct calls. Get correct matchups. You know … coaching.

Maybe Fisher is right and Durkin is being unfairly criticized. Maybe all of Durkin’s knowledge will be on full display for the rest of the season.

The loss to Miami was disappointing for Texas A&M. So was Alabama’s loss to Texas. But you know Alabama won’t mail in the rest of its season. Expect Alabama to make whatever moves are necessary to play winning football.

A&M should, too. That’s the plan anyway.

The Aggies will beat Louisiana Monroe on Saturday. Maybe they can follow up with strong performances to beat Auburn and Arkansas. That would set up a huge showdown with Alabama, perhaps for supremacy in the SEC West.

None of that will happen unless the Aggie defense makes giant strides.

Fortunately, Fisher maintained A&M’s pass rush and tackling problems can be quickly fixed.

All Aggies are hoping so. But they also must hope other problems don’t pop up. We've seen that occur too often.

Or was it just our lying eyes?

Discussion from...

Texas A&M must fix defensive issues, and fast, to have success in 2023

9,206 Views | 16 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by jrgypsum
greg.w.h
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AG
You echoed the fan zeitgeist perfectly!!! Great piece.
swrdply400mrelay
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AG
Even in the NM game, tacklers were not wrapping up
Magpie
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Thank you, OB. My sentiments exactly.
LatinAggie1997
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Finally!
Someone is making statements based on what happened, why it happened, and the results. No excuses, no sugarcoating, no avoiding the issues.

This is exactly what this site needs and more of it.
Folks not afraid to being honest, objective, and critical of the coaches and the program.

We fans want, expect, and pray for a good on field product. If we aren't getting it then let's be honest about why.
This article gives respect to the fans and shows loyalty to the dream. The dream of winning a natty.

Thank you Olin.

Iraq2xVeteran
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Olin Buchanan articulated the defensive issues that must be fixed for us to win our first two SEC games against Auburn and Arkansas. Auburn and Arkansas do not have explosive offenses. Auburn gained just 230 total yards (94 passing yards and 136 rushing yards), scored just 14 points, and had 4 turnovers (1 interception and 3 fumbles) in a 14-10 win at Cal. Arkansas gained just 308 total yards (136 passing yards and 172 rushing yards) and scored just 21 offensive points (7 more came from a Pick 6) against a Kent State defense that allowed 723 total yards (334 passing and 389 rushing yards) and 56 points to UCF a week earlier. In summary, the Auburn and Arkansas games are an excellent opportunity for our defense to make giant strides.
halfastros81
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We will go as far as the defense takes us. Early returns indicate not very far.
Rebbasser
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Texas A&M must fix defensive issues, and fast, to have success in 2023

Ya think?
Old Army '83
P.U.T.U
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swrdply400mrelay said:

Even in the NM game, tacklers were not wrapping up
Cooper had several hits in that game where he went for the hard hit, didn't wrap up, and the runner got a few extra yards. It comes down to the winners do the basics better than everyone else
laruejd
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AG
Define "success in 2023". I see three road games we have little chance of winning (#11 Tenn., #14 LSU and #17 Ole Miss). Then we have #10 Alabama and unranked Arkansas, looking for revenge for that miracle we pulled off last year at Jerry World. Assuming we can get by Auburn, I think we can win the other four. So even if we beat 2 of those five where we will be the underdog that would only be 7 wins. Would most Ags consider 7-5 and a very minor bowl game success? That is the "high side". I don't even want to consider the "low side".
laruejd
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Iraq2xVeteran said:

Olin Buchanan articulated the defensive issues that must be fixed for us to win our first two SEC games against Auburn and Arkansas. Auburn and Arkansas do not have explosive offenses. Auburn gained just 230 total yards (94 passing yards and 136 rushing yards), scored just 14 points, and had 4 turnovers (1 interception and 3 fumbles) in a 14-10 win at Cal. Arkansas gained just 308 total yards (136 passing yards and 172 rushing yards) and scored just 21 offensive points (7 more came from a Pick 6) against a Kent State defense that allowed 723 total yards (334 passing and 389 rushing yards) and 56 points to UCF a week earlier. In summary, the Auburn and Arkansas games are an excellent opportunity for our defense to make giant strides.
And we really have to beat both if we expect to go 7-5. We have three top 20 teams on the road and #10 Alabama at home. If we could upset one of those 4 we might even finish 8-4.
samdds
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Why, PLEASE tell me why we are STILL having this conversation about our D tackling poorly? This has been the same song, next verse for several years now. Pop Warner football teaches tackling better than what we have seen year in and year out. Is it lack of talent or COACHING?!! If it doesn't change, we will be licking our wounds for the same reason if we lose to Horns down in upcoming seasons. When does it get corrected? Everyone but Jimbo sees it, I guess.
Detmersdislocatedshoulder
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i read an article that just came out on gigem 247 that discusses urkin over the last 6 years and his defense production. basically he sucks i know u already know this but his defenses are below average at multiple different schools. over last 6 years his defense overall is around 75th in the nation. he hasn't had a complete defense since he coached at florida and michigan pre 2015.
laruejd
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AG
Did our Defense get that much worse than last year or did the Miami QB get a whole lot better. Only 3DG's last year.
big red dog
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A great DC will have his team playing with hair on fire passion. These guys seem content to follow ol smiley face with the aw shucks mentality.
Good article OB. Thanks.
Time will tell, but in the SEC there ain't much time for kicking rocks down the road.
Sterling82
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Fisher was popping off about fundamentals since spring ball started. If they couldn't get that accomplished over all that time I'm hard pressed to believe it gets corrected in a few weeks during the season. And frankly, if the problems persist Fisher comes across as a bit of a buffoon.
jrgypsum
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Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said you didn't see Durkin struggle.

"He did a good job," Fisher said. "Played the run extremely well. Played a great first game. We give up a couple of deep passes. We've got to get a little more pressure. D.J.'s a very good coach and does a good job and knows what he's doing."

Wow - o - wow

I mean - if my guys mess up and I don't want to blame them directly, I take the blame.

This is so messed up - no wonder we having problems.
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