After a week of rest, the Texas A&M defense looks to pick up where it left off against Arkansas.
Last time out, a stellar defensive performance led to the Aggies only allowing seven offensive points and 217 yards from Mississippi State, their best performance so far. Arkansas, coming off a bye week, notched 244 passing yards and its season-best 150 rushing yards against a subpar Ole Miss defense.
Through four games, Arkansas has posted the fourth-fewest points and total yards per game in the SEC. In addition, the Razorbacks’ rushing offense is second-to-last in the SEC. Arkansas’ scoring has been greatly assisted by its defense, with 21 of its total 92 points coming from its defense.
Arkansas’ offense is led by redshirt senior quarterback Feleipe Franks who completed 21 of 34 passes for one touchdown against Ole Miss.
“Feleipe Franks is a big, strong, athletic guy who can get the ball so vertical,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He has a cannon. Knew him in high school… Strong, athletic, hard to get him on the ground, makes a lot of plays.”
A&M’s defense has allowed the third-fewest total yards per game in the SEC, and is one of eight teams with more than two games in the NCAA to allow less than 100 rushing yards per game. The strong rush defense was put on full display against Mississippi State for the first time an A&M defense has forced negative rushing yards since 2004.
The Aggies’ defensive pressure is also notable in their pass rush, which has warranted 10 sacks, six of which were against Mississippi State. Among A&M’s pass rushers is senior defensive tackle Jayden Peevy, who recorded his first sack of the season against the Bulldogs. Peevy was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after the performance that also saw him recover a fumble for 19 yards.
“Jayden’s success is because it started in the offseason,” Fisher said. “I expected Jayden to have a good year, his offseason has been the best offseason he’s had. He has been tremendous in the offseason.”
Arkansas has allowed the fourth-most sacks in the SEC as Franks has been sacked 10 times. Despite the pressure, Franks has only thrown three interceptions, two of which were in Week 1 against a stout Georgia defense.
A&M forced one interception against Mississippi State, giving it four on the season and granting senior defensive back Myles Jones four on his career.
Pass defense was the main focus for the A&M defense in preparation for its last game as A&M refined its three-man rush.
“We had a great rotation,” Peevy said. “Me and McKinnley Jackson were just in there pushing with Micheal Clemons and DeMarvin Leal.”
In this rivalry matchup, A&M sits at 32-3-41 since the first meeting with Arkansas in 1902. After last year's 31-27 win, A&M has an eight-game win streak against Arkansas and has not lost in College Station since 1981.