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Texas A&M vs. Tennessee Full Preview

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Texas A&M Set to Break Road Game Drought in Showdown with Tennessee

Texas A&M football gears up for a crucial showdown against Tennessee, and it’s no exaggeration to say this game holds immense significance in the Aggies’ season. They’ve faced a daunting two-year drought when it comes to true road game victories, going 0-7 in the past seven attempts. Despite that, many believe that the 2023 Aggie squad is the best since 2020, if not even better, although their win-loss record might not fully reflect their potential.

Nonetheless, the potential must translate into performance, and this weekend, the Aggies face a pivotal test as part of their three-game road journey. Alongside visits to Oxford and Baton Rouge, Texas A&M football hopes to emulate its past success at Neyland Stadium, where it triumphed during the COVID season. Fortunately, they won’t contend with the challenges of a night game in the SEC’s second-largest stadium.

On the other side of the field, the Volunteers, with a 4-1 record, are coming off a bye week. Although their opponents thus far might not include heavyweight teams, they did stumble on the road against Florida. Tennessee’s quarterback, Joe Milton, known for his cannon-like arm, hasn’t quite replicated the passing prowess of Hendon Hooker from the previous season. Instead, the Vols have leaned heavily on their ground game. Yet, Milton’s deep-ball threat looms large, an area where the Aggies have struggled this year.

Tennessee Offense vs. Aggies’ Defense: A Closer Look

Tennessee’s offense is notably different from what many might expect. Last year, they gained fame for their aerial attack, but this season, that prowess has waned. Only once this year have they surpassed an opponent’s average yards per attempt, and that was in a game they lost. The loss of key receivers, including Jalin Hyatt and the injured Bru McCoy, has left the Vols with fewer proven options. Squirrel White appears to be their main threat, and the Aggie defensive backs must remain vigilant against the possibility of an unknown receiver making an impact.

The critical matchup in this aspect is between the Aggie run defense and the Volunteer ground game. Tennessee ranks highly in rushing success rate, explosiveness, and yards per carry. Notably, their lone struggle to run the ball coincided with their loss to Florida. Texas A&M’s improved rushing defense in 2023 could be the key to the game. If they can limit the Vols’ ground game, they’ll stand a good chance.

The other critical battle is the Aggies’ pass rush against the Vols’ offensive line. Although Tennessee has protected Milton well, the Aggies bring a different level of pressure. If they can rattle Milton as they did with KJ Jefferson, it might be a challenging day for the Vols.

Tennessee excels on early downs, thanks to a strong ground game. However, they struggle to convert late downs effectively. Texas A&M’s sixth-ranked third-down conversion defense provides an opportunity here. The Aggies have also been proficient in preventing opponents from scoring in the red zone, adding another advantage.

Aggies’ Offense vs. Tennessee’s Defense: A Balanced Approach

Tennessee’s defense has quietly been a strong unit over the past two years. While they excelled in rushing defense last season, this year they’ve been more vulnerable to big runs. However, their pass rush remains intimidating. Tennessee will aim to exploit Max Johnson‘s pressure weaknesses, making it crucial for the Aggies to establish their rushing attack early. A successful ground game can set up effective play-action passes.

Tennessee’s pass defense is respectable, ranking 14th nationally in yards per attempt allowed. The Aggies have consistently exceeded 7.0 yards per attempt this season, but facing the Vols will be a considerable challenge. No team has reached their average YPA against them, making it a potential step forward for the Aggie passing game.

Both teams have been efficient at preventing opponents from scoring, making the game a battle of execution.

This matchup is making both fan bases uneasy. Tennessee fans worry about their offense facing a formidable Aggie front seven and a slow start post-bye week. On the other hand, Texas A&M football enthusiasts are concerned about a potential letdown after an emotional game against Alabama, struggles in the downfield passing game, and their recent road woes.

Texas A&M boasts superior talent, but consistency is their challenge. Tennessee’s quarterback situation is not significantly better, and they have their own issues. The outcome could range from a defensive battle to a high-scoring shootout. The key will be how well the Aggies perform in their areas of concern. They have a good chance if they can protect their quarterback, contain the Vols’ receivers, and execute in the red zone.


Texas A&M Tennessee
Photo courtesy Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports



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