The Texas A&M secondary had four interceptions in the season opener against Texas State — more than half of what they produced during the entire 2018 season.
The Aggies’ four interceptions were the most they have had in a single game since 2006 against Texas.
Junior cornerback Myles Jones accounted for two of those interceptions to help A&M to a 41-7 victory over the Bobcats. Jones said he credits the entire defense for his career-high performance.
“I was just doing my job, just like the rest of my teammates,” Jones said. “The D-line put pressure on the quarterback, we all did our part and the outcome just happened to be two picks.”
Sophomore defensive back Leon O’Neal, Jr. led the defensive charge with the first interception of the game, picking off Texas State quarterback Tyler Vitt in the first quarter to give the Aggies’ possession on the 42-yard line.
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said that first interception was instrumental in setting the pace for the rest of the night.
“Once you start making plays and you understand you can make them, then you start getting confidence,” Fisher said.
The Bobcats managed to notch an interception of their own, but the A&M secondary got revenge on the next play as Jones notched his second interception of the night.
The rest of the defensive line also felt the change in the secondary, junior linebacker Buddy Johnson said.
“Over the offseason, those guys really decided to buy in and put in the hard work,” Johnson said. “They’ve been working hard this summer and it’s paid off. Those guys have been working and I’m just glad they’re my secondary.”
While training over the offseason, the members of the backfield were committed to bettering the group as a whole, Jones said.
“We’ve all just been grinding, trying to get better every day,” Jones said. “All throughout camps, summer workouts, our saying was ‘Embrace the grind.’ We tried to take the grind everyday.”
The cohesiveness of the secondary, and the defense as a whole, was the reason for its success and improvement from last season, A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond said.
“They had a really good game tonight,” Mond said. “I feel like the whole defense was on the same page tonight.”
Jones said his unit’s improvement was fueled in part by the notion that last year’s squad was subpar.
“It’s definitely an area that needed to be improved,” Jones said.
Johnson said he gives A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko the credit for the defense’s play on Thursday.
“He had a wonderful game plan and we just did a great job of executing it,” Johnson said. “I think everyone decided to buy in at practice. Good practice helped lead us to success.”
With Clemson coming next week, the Aggies will be facing the Tigers’ sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who posted 168 passing yards in Clemson’s 52-14 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday.
Mond said he is confident in the secondary, given their improvement over the offseason.
“The work they’ve put in this offseason, them being able to go up against this offense — iron sharpens iron,” Mond said. “They had a really good night tonight and we’re going to need that next week too.”