Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman calls his defense "a work in progress." He's been saying that for months. It's hard not to like the results from the Aggies newly formed 3-4 D under first-year coordinator Tim DeRuyter, even if it has come against who-cares? teams such as Stephen F. Austin and La Tech. The Aggies have three interceptions, forced 10 fumbles, opponents are converting only 28 percent on third downs, and they have four sacks.
One area where Sherman is seeing instant difference is crucial for future success against real teams: The Aggie defense is faster.
"We're definitely putting more in recruiting and playing the young guys to put more speed on the field than we have in the past," Sherman said.
The Aggies employ a "kill the quarterback" mentality. It looked great against La Tech, and should work well this Saturday against Fla International. But for this to thrive the front seven is going to have to "get home", or the secondary is going to be required to hold man coverage for a long time.
Always a dicey bet. I'm betting the Aggies win at Oklahoma State one week from Thursday; but Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is going to need to feel the pressure for this defense to work the way it's designed.
- Mac Engel