Thursday, December 6, 2012
Grading the positions: Cornerbacks
By Sam Khan Jr.
In the weeks leading up to Texas A&M's bowl game, GigEmNation will take a look back at how the Aggies performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we look at the cornerbacks.
Highlights: In the biggest game of the year, it was a cornerback (Deshazor Everett) that made the biggest play, coming up with an interception of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron in the Aggies' 29-24 upset win over the then-No. 1 Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala. That play, in the context of that game, seemed to be a fitting sign of the cornerbacks' growth all season. There were some bumps in the road (big pass plays were yielded that allowed the Crimson Tide to stay within striking distance) but when the chips were down, the group made plays. Senior Dustin Harris morphed into a leader for the group and led the team in pass breakups with 10. Everett, who played in 11 of 12 games, had the task of going back and forth from corner to safety and handled it well, finishing with seven pass breakups and two interceptions. True freshman De'Vante Harris started seven games, a huge task for a true freshman at any position in the SEC and nickel cornerback Toney Hurd (who also spent time working at safety) played well when lining up at corner and tied with safety Steven Terrell to lead the entire secondary in tackles with 58.
Lowlights: There were some struggles early in the season when it came to tackling (defensive coordinator Mark Snyder called it "ankle-biting") that could be seen against Florida and in a big pass play or two against Arkansas. The Louisiana Tech game was a struggle as Aggies yielded a season-high 450 passing yards that day. As mentioned before, there were some big plays given up in the Alabama game as the Crimson Tide tried to stage a comeback. Some might point to the Aggies ranking 79th nationally in passing yardage defense as a sign of struggles, but it's worth noting that they had large leads on many teams early and some of those yards were compiled against reserves or in the midst of blowouts when the game was decided.
Surprises: Hard to say there were a ton of surprises at this position. Some ups and downs were to be expected when the Aggies came out of fall camp naming a sophomore (Everett) and a true freshman (De'Vante Harris) as starters. Tramain Jacobs and Floyd Raven appeared in all 12 games and contributed at the position as well. They were serviceable when used, and perhaps maybe some expected them to be used more than they were.
Grade: B- The start was rough in some spots but as the season wore on, the unit got better as a whole. Dustin Harris was a leader, Everett was a playmaker and De'Vante Harris showed a lot of growth and handled his role well. In nickel situations, Hurd was a huge asset to the group as that third cornerback lining up inside. And Everett made one of the plays of the year against Alabama.