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PFF Game Notes and Stats Preview: Texas A&M at Alabama

The Aggies will need to play a nearly perfect game to pull off the upset in Alabama.

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NCAA Football: Tennessee at Texas A&M Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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Texas A&M Top Graded Players This Season

Offense

Defense

Trayveon Williams, HB (77.9)

Myles Garrett, EDGE (89.9)

Josh Reynolds, WR (77.7)

Shaan Washington, LB (84.3)

Erik McCoy, C (75.0))

Daeshon Hall, EDGE (79.7)

Alabama Top Graded Players This Season

Offense

Defense

Bradley Bozeman, C (81.3)

Reuben Foster, LB (90.8)

Jalen Hurts, QB (79.2)

Jonathan Allen, DE (89.5)

Jonah Williams, OT (78.6)

Tim Williams, EDGE (86.0)

When Alabama has the ball

  • Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts (79.2) has proven to be more than capable of leading the Alabama offense this season and has graded out as one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC through seven weeks. Hurts has shown tremendous poise and decision making as a true freshman, committing only six turnover-worthy plays all season. He has the ability to push the ball downfield as well, ranking 15th among Power-5 quarterbacks with his 40.0 percent accuracy rating on deep pass attempts. Hurts has also proven to be a threat on the ground, totaling 480 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 70 carries this season. Of those totals, 20 carries and 105 yards have come on quarterback scrambles while the rest were on designed QB runs.
  • One area Hurts has struggled this season has been his performance under pressure. His QB rating drops from an impressive 119.1 on throws from a clean pocket to just 31.3 when facing pressure. Additionally, his 25.6% completion rate on plays under fire is the third worst rate in the nation among Power-5 quarterbacks this season. This proves favorable for Texas A&M as the Aggie defense has the third highest graded pass-rushing unit in the nation this year, led by Myles Garrett’s 32 total pressure and his nationleading 89.6 pass-rush grade. Daeshon Hall has been impressive as well, ranking 11th at his position with 25 total pressures and a 9.3 pass rushing productivity rating. Keep an eye on Donovan Wilson blitzing off the edge also, as he currently leads the nation’s cornerbacks with a 32.3 pass rushing productivity rating and 10 total pressures on the year (one sack, one hit, eight hurries).
  • Running back Joshua Jacobs ( 73.6) has made the most of his 121 snaps this season, averaging 8.0 yards per carry and an impressive 5.26 yards after contact per attempt. Jacobs currently has the second highest elusive rating in the country, forcing 18 missed tackles on just 49 total touches this season. The Aggie defense has had its struggles this year with missed tackles, totaling 90 misses on the year, 31 of which came in the Tennessee game alone. The A&M defense has whiffed on 21.3 percent of their tackling attempts, a rate they will have to improve upon this weekend in order to contain Jacobs and the rest of the Alabama rushing attack.
  • Alabama’s biggest threats in the passing game will be wide receivers Calvin Ridley (76.6) and ArDarius Stewart (74.8), both ranking in the top six among SEC receivers in overall grade. Ridley has had a solid second season, and while he’s the headliner of the Alabama receiving corps, Stewart has had an impressive year as well. Among SEC wide receivers, Stewart ranks second with 3.38 yards per route run and has been the second best blocking receiver in the conference, behind only teammate Gehrig Dieter. Tight end O.J. Howard (76.1) presents another option for Jalen Hurts, and though he’s been solid in the passing game his biggest impact has been as a blocker, ranking fourth nationally among tight ends with a 79.4 run block grade. For A&M, cornerback Priest Willis (79.6) has earned his best two grades of the season his last two outings and now ranks fourth in the SEC allowing just one reception every 16.2 coverage snaps. At safety, the combo of Armani Watts (71.3) and Justin Evans (76.9) have combined for 10 plays on the ball (interceptions + pass break ups) this year, third most of any safety duo in the country.
  • The Alabama offensive line has done a great job of protecting quarterback Jalen Hurts this season, leading all SEC offensive lines with a 91.2 pass blocking efficiency rating. Center Bradley Bozeman has yet to allow a pressure in 234 pass block snaps and is the second highest graded center in the conference through seven weeks. Left tackle Cam Robinson has been good but not great this season, ranking 94th nationally in pass block grade but right tackle Jonah Williams has impressed as a true freshman and leads all SEC tackles with his 99.3 pass blocking efficiency rating.

When Texas A&M has the ball

  • Aggie quarterback Trevor Knight (67.0) hasn’t been the most consistent passer this season, but if there’s one area he’s stood out it’s been when throwing the ball deep. While his underneath accuracy leaves some to be desired, Knight has been one of the best in the nation this year when pushing the ball downfield. Among all Power-5 quarterbacks, Knight has the 14th best accuracy rate at 41.0 percent on throws traveling 20 or more yards in the air and ranks 11th with 529 passing yards on deep attempts.
  • One key matchup to watch in this area will be A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds (77.7) versus Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey (78.6). Reynolds has lined up on the offense’s right side on 88 percent of his snaps while Humphrey has been the left corner on 92 percent of his plays, meaning the two should see each other quite a bit on Saturday. Reynolds has been one of the best deep threats in the nation this year, catching 50 percent of his deep targets and ranking fifth with his 294 receiving yards on downfield throws. When targeted on deep attempts, Humphrey has allowed a 46.7 percent completion rate, 208 receiving yards, two touchdowns and a 104.9 QB rating.
  • Trayveon Williams (77.9) is currently the 11th highest graded back in the country and has averaged 5.06 yards after contact per attempt, fourth best in the nation. His 143.8 elusive rating ranks eighth nationally, forcing 27 missed tackles on just 95 total touches. Williams has also provided the Aggies with a true threat to take it to the house on any play, leading the nations’ running backs with a 57.1 breakaway percentage and 11 runs of 15 yards or longer. As dominant as Williams has been, this week will prove to be his toughest test yet as the Alabama defense is loaded with elite run defenders. It starts up front with defensive end Jonathan Allen (89.5) who leads all players at his position with an 11.9 run stop percentage. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (85.7) has also been a dominant run defender and leads the team with his 84.7 run defense grade. On the second level, linebackers Reuben Foster (90.8) and Shaun Dion Hamilton (84.5) have excelled against the run as well and each rank among the top 10 players at their position in run stop percentage.
  • The Aggie offensive line will have to be at their best on Saturday as Alabama boasts by far the highest graded pass rushing unit in the nation. Several of the nation’s top players at getting after the quarterback play for the Crimson Tide, including lineman Jonathan Allen and EDGE players Tim Williams (86.0) and Ryan Anderson (84.4). Williams has been unbelievably productive as a pass rusher, collecting 29 total pressures despite rushing the passer just 124 times this season. On average, Williams tallies a hit, hurry or sack once every 4.28 pass rush snaps, one of the bets rates in the country. Anderson isn’t far behind with 28 pressures of his own and Allen ranks second at his position with a 12.6 pass rushing productivity rating this season. Aggie center Erik McCoy remains one of the best pass blocking centers in the country and ranks eighth at his position with a 99.3 pass blocking efficiency rating. The Aggies will have to get better play out of their tackles however, as Jermaine Eluemunor currently ranks 136th with his 74.4 pass block grade and Avery Gennesy ranks 214th with a 48.3 grade.
  • Continuing with the trend, the Alabama secondary ranks as one of the best units in the country as well, having multiple players ranked among the SEC’s best at both cornerback and safety. Corner Minkah Fitzpatrick (85.6) has been outstanding this season, collecting three interceptions, four pass breakups and allowing an NFL rating of just 40.0 into his coverage. As Alabama’s primary slot defender, Fitzpatrick will likely be guarding Christian Kirk (70.3) who ranks third in the conference in yards out of the slot with 342 and seventh with an average of 1.82 yards per route run. Anthony Averett (80.2) has been impressive at corner as well and ranks in the top five among SEC corners in both cover snaps per reception (21.2) and yards per cover snap allowed (0.54). At safety, Alabama has three players grading in the top 10 among SEC safeties in Ronnie Harrison (82.8), Eddie Jackson (76.7) and Hootie Jones (74.9). Harrison has been the best of the three against the run, ranking 10th with a 4.9 run stop percentage, while Jackson and Jones have excelled in coverage and have only allowed a combined 10 receptions this season.