Alabama holds a dominant 12-3 advantage in the series against Texas A&M, but in the past two games between the two programs, the home team has won in a close game.
This Saturday, things are lining up to be another last-possession thriller between these two evenly-matched SEC West foes.
Here are a few things to watch for this Saturday afternoon as the Tide travel to Texas A&M.
The last time Jalen Milroe was in Texas, he had a rough outing in a 34-24 loss against the Longhorns, throwing two horrendous interceptions. This week, Milroe returns back to his home state in hopes of redemption. Milroe made his first career start against the Aggies last year, and it was filled with ups and downs. He accounted for three touchdowns but threw an interception and lost two fumbles in a victory. Texas A&M has been one of the best defenses in the nation this year, but Miloroe has the ability to expose the Aggies’ secondary like Miami did in the Aggies' only loss of the season.
Alabama Pass Protection
The only way Milroe can expose the Texas A&M on deep balls is if he has the time to do so. Texas A&M is tied for third in the nation averaging four sacks a game, while the Crimson Tide are among the worst at protecting the quarterback, averaging four sacks allowed per game. This could very well be the best defensive front the Crimson Tide will face all season. Like Milroe, the offensive line has improved from week to week but has still not reached their potential. If the Crimson Tide can’t slow down the pass rush, it will be a long day for the Alabama offense.
So far this season, the Alabama secondary has been the glue holding this team together. Everyone knows about the first-round NFL talent that Kool-Aid McKinstry possesses, but another defensive back has emerged as well this year. Terrion Arnold has improved his draft stock and has become a nice compliment to McKinstry. With teams fearing to throw in McKinstry’s direction, Arnold has defended a team-high 24 passes, allowing just 11 catches for 129 yards. Arnold also leads the team with five pass breakups. Alabama will once again rely on the secondary to stop the Texas A&M playmakers and give the offense positive field position.
When it comes to the passing game, Alabama is near the bottom in the nation, averaging less than 200 yards passing per game. The combination of a new quarterback and inconsistency at the receiver position without a true playmaker has been a recipe for the lack of production. Jermaine Burton, the Crimson Tide’s leading receiver, has had his fair share of inconsistency. Over the first two games of the season, Burton was averaging 60 yards and a touchdown before suffering a 7-yard performance in the third game of the season. Burton bounced back with a 62-yard game against Ole Miss and followed with a catchless game in Alabama’s most recent game against Mississippi State. Later, Saban revealed that Burton was banged up, which led to his lack of snaps. Burton and the other Bama receivers have an opportunity to beat the Texas A&M secondary on deep passes, which will be key to help complement the run game.
Alabama has won both of its road games at South Florida and Mississippi State, but Saturday will be a different animal. Mississippi State’s stadium can get loud with the cowbells but is no comparison to Texas A&M. Kyle Field holds over 40,000 more people, and Texas A&M is a much more talented team than Mississippi State. A game that is anticipated to be close to the end will have the home crowd in the game from start to finish. Bad snaps and false starts have been a problem this year for the Alabama offensive line, and communication will be key. Can Alabama correct the snap issues and minimize the penalties to not shoot themselves in the foot in front of a rowdy crowd? The answer will be key in determining the outcome of this game on Saturday.
Alabama will face its toughest SEC test of the season Saturday in College Station against Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
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