Ahead of this game we knew that if the Texas A&M Aggies defense couldn’t stop Derrick Henry and the Alabama Crimson Tide running game then the chances of beating the Crimson Tide were slim. So one quarter into the contest when Derrick Henry had 153 yards it looked bleak for the Aggies but a lot of praise has to be given to John Chavis and the defensive players for the adjustments they made. They held him to just 83 yards in the rest of the contest which gave Texas A&M a fighting chance of making a comeback. But the Aggies first defeat of the 2015 season still came as they couldn’t get back into the game and fell 41-23 to Alabama.
The early lead built off the back of the running game and a Kyle Allen interception returned for a touchdown was just what Alabama needed in this game. It took the pressure off their biggest weakness, Jake Coker forced to make difficult throws and score quick points. In this game Coker was able to just concentrate on being efficient and keeping the Texas A&M defense off balance. He scrambled for a couple of key first downs as the Aggies were never able to really get themselves back into the game.
For A&M, many players stood out in this game despite the defeat. Armani Watts at safety was fantastic and made a number of important tackles throughout the game. Daylon Mack showed why he was a top recruit last year out of high school as he tackled Jake Coker in the backfield before he’d even had chance to hand it off to Derrick Henry. Myles Garratt continues to impress as he had a sack and a blocked punt as Alabama looked to neutralise the pass rush with their play calling on third down. Whilst Christian Kirk is probably one of the most exciting and dangerous playmakers in open space that the school has had in many years.
Unfortunately the play at quarterback was inconsistent at best as Kyle Allen threw three interceptions which were all returned for touchdowns and Kyler Murray also threw one pick of his own. Kyle Allen is a tough player who will bounce back from this but it was easily his most disappointing game as a Texas A&M Aggie. He seemed to be hearing footsteps all game as he never felt comfortable in the pocket, and his footwork suffered and he missed a couple of passes to wide open receivers which led to drives stalling. The Alabama front seven were incredibly disciplined against Kyler Murray in the few plays where he came in at quarterback, as they forced him to throw rather than be allowed to scramble.
To be fair the Aggies run game struggled as many teams generally do against a stout Alabama defensive line. Tra Carson battled hard and took the yards that were there but it was clear that A&M missed a change of pace back. A speedy pass catching back would have really helped on check downs from the quarterback and designed screens to the running back. So it meant all the pressure was on the quarterback to make plays and keep drives alive.
The improvements on recent performances against Alabama were clear but unfortunately the result was still the same. Previously A&M demonstrated why this 2015 Aggies team is better than last years and now is the time to really prove it. After finally losing a game it’s crucial that this team quickly regroups ahead of next week’s game at Ole Miss. The Rebels suffered a disappointing loss of their own this week against Memphis so both sides will be desperate for a win to stop their season from disappearing towards a three or four loss season. The performance in next weeks game will tell us a lot about this year’s team.