Preview: Texas A&M Defensive Line vs Alabama Offensive Line

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

How the Aggies D-Line will line up against the Crimson Tide O-Line.


Texas A&M D-Line

This defensive line will look much different from the one from a year ago. Damontre Moore and Spencer Nealy are gone and coach Kevin Sumlin has turned to many youngsters to fill some holes.

The Aggies defensive line has seen many different lineups in their first two games due to suspensions. Starting nose guard Kirby Ennis was held out of the Rice game due to a February arrest on a gun charge. Additionally, defensive end Gavin Stansbury along with three other Aggies were suspended for the first two games for the dreaded "violation of team rules". Whatever it was, it must've been worse than flashing a gun around.

Starting line vs. Rice:

NG TruFr Hardreck Walker - 1 assist
DT So Alonzo Williams - 2 solo, 4 assists
RUSH So Julien Obioha - 1 solo, 2 assists
RUSH Jr Tyrell Taylor - 2 TFL, 1 sack

* "Rush" position is Texas A&M codespeak for its Jack or stand-up end. Technically LBs, but I will include them.

Starting line vs. Sam Houston State:

DE RSFr Tyrone Taylor - 2 solo, 2 assist, forced fumble
NG Sr Kirby Ennis - 3 assists
DT So Alonzo Williams -1 sack, 3 assists
RUSH Jr Tyrell Taylor - 1 assist

True freshmen Isaiah Golden and Daeshon Hall also saw significant time. Golden recorded 1 solo and 2 assists vs. Rice and 3 solo and 1 assist vs. SHSU which included 2 TFL and a sack. Hall had 3 solos (1 TFL) against Rice and 1 solo, 3 assists vs. SHSU.

With Stansbury's suspension over, I assume he returns to the starting lineup:

DE Jr Gavin Stansbury
NG Sr Kirby Ennis
DT So Alonzo Williams
RUSH Jr Tyrell Taylor

In two games, the Aggies defense has given up an average of 176.5 passing yards and 273 rushing per game for 6.16 yard per play. In each game, they had two interceptions and a forced fumble but did not recover them. They gave up 29.5 offensive points per game. Rice scored TDs on their first two drives of the game. Sam Houston scored on their opening possession as well.

The D-line that the Crimson Tide will see on Saturday should be healthy plus more experienced then the first two games. The real questions are whether they have congealed as a group and if these guys are game-ready to go 60 minutes as Alabama's talent level is a bit of an upgrade from Rice and Sam Houston.

Alabama O-Line

It is old news that the Crimson Tide's 2013 offensive line struggled in Week 1 against Virginia Tech. AJ McCarron was harassed much of the night (4 sacks for -23 yards and an intentional grounding penalty) which made it hard for the offense to really ever find a rhythm. Bama returns two starting linemen in Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen. The other three are no strangers to the playing field or the practice field, so there should be no excuses. Against the Hokies, every lineman got beat at least once with Steen being the most effective blocker.

LT Jr Cyrus Kouandjio
LG Jr Arie Kouandjio
C So Ryan Kelly
RG Sr Anthony Steen
RT Jr Austin Shepherd

Cyrus Kouandjio probably had the worst game of his college career. He is being looked at as the anchor of this line and he had two weeks to figure out what went wrong. After two years playing next to All-American Chance Warmack, it is now Cyrus' turn to step up and be a leader. I have a feeling this soft-spoken giant is not used to this role.

Brother Arie did not fare much better in Week 1 and was substituted for Kellen Williams at one point. I have to wonder if his injuries are still limiting him.

Center Ryan Kelly is the youngest of the bunch but spent most of December 2012 bowl practice with the first team.

At one time during the fall camp, Nick Saban experimented with moving Arie to right tackle and Austin Shepherd to left guard - a move that seemed to make sense to this observer. However, for whatever reason, it did not last.

Also in this group of o-linemen is the "sixth man" senior Kellen Williams. Saban will not be hesitant to pull a non-effective player and insert someone else.

The main blocking tight end is junior Brian Vogler with Brandon Greene seeing time on short yardage plays.

In Game 1, the Bama offense put up only 110 passing yards, 96 rushing yards, and 14 points. Whether this is a case of lack of mental or physical abilities (or both) will soon be learned.

We know Saturday will feature a top defense (Bama #9) versus a top offense (Texas A&M #5) but what happens when the Tide gets the ball is still a bit of a mystery.

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