Texas A&M’s defense is facing the toughest run-heavy team it has seen all season on Saturday at Georgia.
The SEC East program is ranked No. 4 and is the only team in the top four that doesn’t have 2,000 passing yards from its starting quarterback this season.
Quarterback Jake Fromm currently holds 1,968 yards passing on the year, including 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Those three picks came from only one game this season, when the Bulldogs lost in shocking fashion to South Carolina at home.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has stuck to the run first, pass later game plan for the last year — and this year is no different. With the dynamic rushing ability of running back De’Andre Smith in the backfield and one of, if not the best, offensive line in the country, the Bulldogs don’t need to be a pass-heavy team.
Before last week, Swift was only rushing for over 100 yards against teams with losing records, but he broke that trend with a 106-yard rushing performance at Auburn. However, the junior running back hasn’t reached the end zone since playing Kentucky in late October.
The Bulldogs’ offensive line has been one of the most heralded units in the country and is a semifinalist for the Jim Moore award. Led by offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, the offensive line at Georgia is the heaviest in football, regardless of the college or professional ranks, according to UGA Wire.
This is not the first time offensive line coach Sam Pittman has boasted the biggest offensive line in football. He put together the biggest line in football at Arkansas under then-coach Bret Bielema in 2015. That year, the line helped Alex Collins reach 1,577 yards on the ground.
A&M’s success against run-heavy teams has been evident all season, with the exception of Auburn in the SEC opener. In the last two games, the Aggies have only allowed 93 and 45 yards, respectively.
The Aggies are allowing 132.4 yards per game on the ground, good enough for 36th in the country.
One of the most surprising unfolding narratives of this A&M team has been the progression in the defensive secondary and defensive prowess against the air raid. After finishing the year nearly 100th in passing yards per game with no depth in the unit, the Aggies are now 27th in the nation with a healthy rotation.
A&M’s defensive front is not afraid of a challenge on the road, and linebacker Anthony Hines III said he is ready for the opportunity.
“I don’t think that there’s any feeling better than just silencing an away crowd,” Hines said. “That’s a really awesome feeling.”
A&M will look to take advantage of Fromm’s recent poor performances, as he has completed only 26 of his last 57 attempts over the last two contests. The junior signal caller has thrown five touchdowns in that span as well, but hasn’t thrown for 200 yards or more since the Bulldogs faced Florida.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he has been very impressed in what he’s seen from Fromm.
“He’s as good as anybody in the country,” Fisher said. “Here’s what everybody talks about, ‘Does he throw, can he run, what [are] his numbers?’ What you better ask is [how] does this guy know how to win?”
Linebacker Buddy Johnson said the defense is a lot farther along than the last time the Aggies faced a top 10 opponent.
“I think we’re in a great spot right now,” Johnson said. “Our team starts to understand what it actually takes to win. Guys are starting to give all they got and buying into the game plan.”
A&M travels to Athens to take on Georgia on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on CBS.