Thursday, December 20, 2012
Grading the positions: Defensive line
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 defensive line.
Highlights: This was the group that garnered the most questions from observers going into the season. At SEC media days and during fall training camp, questions about depth -- particularly at defensive tackle -- lingered as the Aggies moved around the pieces. The front four responded resoundingly, becoming one of the bright spots, if not the bright spot, on the defense. Defensive end Damontre Moore was dominant virtually all season, finishing tied for third in the nation in sacks (12.5) and tied for fifth in tackles for loss (20) and leading the Aggies in tackles (80). Spencer Nealy, who transitioned to defensive tackle from defensive end, received high praise from the coaching staff for consistently taking on double teams and having an impact. Kirby Ennis was effective in run defense and true freshman Julien Obioha made an impact despite his youth.
Lowlights: The biggest struggle the Aggies had up front came against LSU. Early on, the unit performed well but the Tigers ate up chunks of yardage on the ground as the game went on and finished with 219 rushing yards, the most any team compiled against Texas A&M all season.
Surprises: The Aggies' perceived lack of overall depth on the defensive interior -- they played a 3-4 alignment for the last two seasons before switching to the 4-3 under the new coaching staff this season -- didn't come back to bite them. The job done by defensive line coach Terry Price and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder was stellar.
Grade: A-minus. The overall job the unit did was impressive, from pressuring the passer to being consistent in the running game and helping the Aggies have one of the best third-down defenses in the nation (30.6 percent, 10th nationally).