Check out all the links to the 2012 CFN Fearless Predictions for Week 4
Hop's Defensive Report Card - SMU
The Aggies did it with a balanced approach. The defensive line put early pressure on Gilbert while the secondary did a nice job of staying close in coverage and not giving up any easy, long pass plays. The A&M secondary made Gilbert and the Mustangs earn every pass completion which caused some problems with consistency. SMU managed to convert only 3-of-18 third down attempts in the game. If a defense can cause such struggles on third down, they are doing a fantastic job from any angle you look at it. In the end, the Aggies gave up just 309 yards and three points even with the second unit playing most of the fourth quarter. That will get you an "A" on your report card every time.
Once again, the defensive line had a good day and showed that the season opening performance against Florida was no fluke. Damontre Moore followed up his 3-sack effort last week with another two sacks and two QB hurries as well. Moore's issue has always been consistency, not ability. He took another step forward in showing the staff and the SEC that he is quickly establishing himself as one of the best defensive ends in a conference known for impact DE's. Julien Obioha had a nice encore performance with a QB sack that caused a fumble early in the game. Spencer Nealy was the Nealy we have come to expect. I thought Jonathan Mathis had an active game coming off the bench. I expect that once he gets his game legs back under him that he'll be working with the first unit. If Mathis gets back into his form from two seasons ago, the defensive line could be even better going forward.
The linebacker corps totaled 14 tackles. There weren't any explosive plays like they had against Florida, but I thought they played a solid game both in coverage and in run support. Sean Porter was flying to the ball and played with more explosiveness than he did in week one. Jonathan Stewart made a couple of nice plays in coverage with some pass break-ups. While the defense allowed a few big runs by Zach Line late with the game out of hand, I thought the linebackers did a good job of gang tackling and limiting Line's yardage after contact.
I was very impressed with the secondary as a whole. DeVante Harris improved his tackling and I thought his aggressive pass coverage was excellent despite what I thought were some cheap interference calls. I thought Dustin Harris did a good job in coverage. But I've got to say that I was most impressed with Tramain Jacobs. His early recognition on the one long ball and his acceleration while maintaining inside position and catching the ball on the run at its apex was an NFL caliber play. The play of Jacobs and Harris has allowed Coach Snyder to permanently move Deshazor Everett to safety where I think he's best suited. With Steven Campbell back next week, this secondary has quickly become a strength of this unit. I haven't even mentioned Toney Hurd at the nickel who has been excellent in that role.
Special Teams C+
I'm not as bullish about special teams as others are after this game. Nobody is talking about Dustin Harris' fumble because C.J. Jones picked it up. But if you go back to last season, Harris' mistakes in punt return cost A&M at least one game. He has a history of playing loose with the ball on punts and that is unacceptable. If that's not corrected, it will cost A&M a game this season. Also, Taylor Bertolet continues to have problems pushing field goals from the right hash mark. He consistently missed from that angle in practice, and it happened again on Saturday on a very short field goal. Yeah, it doesn't seem that important in a 45-point win, but if you look at the upcoming schedule, there are a lot of one-score games on the horizon. Kick and punt coverage is still very solid. Ryan Epperson benefited from a lot of good bounces and we didn't see any of those 60-yard boomers he pulled out of his back pocket against Florida.
Mark Snyder changed over to the 4-3 base defense and he simplified some of the reads and concepts that Tim DeRuyter's system demanded. The result has been no major breakdowns in assignments and coverages. Not only is this defense making big, explosive plays but the unit is also limiting big plays from the opponent. SMU managed only three plays over 15 yards and none over 30 yards. Most Aggie fans should feel pretty good about the job Coach Snyder has done so far.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE A
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