TEXAS A&M UNIT ANALYSIS - DEFENSIVE LINEA&M runs a 4-2-5 defense, introduced this year to add another quick defender against the pass (the Aggies ranked last - 117th - in the country last year against the pass). Before the season A&M hoped to generate much more of a pass rush from its front four. The Aggies collected 20 sacks on the season, with 13.5 coming from their defensive line - an OK result, but the Golden Bears OL has handled better units than A&M this year. The defensive line is fairly stout against the run, surrendering 123 yards rushing per game (similar to Cal at 122 ypg). The keys to the game are shutting down Chris Harrington, a resourceful pass rusher off the edge, and avoiding tipped passes at the line. The A&M starters:
DT Marques Thornton (6'1"/285 - Senior)
DT/NG Bryce Reed (6'0"/295 - Senior)
DE Jason Jack 6'4"/271 - Junior
Harrington (left) is by far the best of this bunch, a first-team All-Big 12 choice by several newspapers (though oddly, only Honorable Mention from the Big XII coaches). He led the Aggies in solo tackles, sacks (7.5) and TFL. He will represent a nice challenge for Cal's tackles in San Diego.
Thornton started seven games. He's a former walk-on; a very good gap-filler who moves well laterally. Reed recorded only 15 tackles on the season
Jason Jack has 28 career starts at WDE; the former freshman All-America selection struggled a bit with injury this year and recorded 3 TFL.
Kellen Heard, a massive (6'6"/330) RS freshman, sees playing time at both tackle spots, he had 2 sacks this season. Michael Bennett, brother of TE star Martellus had two sacks, 24 tackles and 5.5 TFL coming off the bench.
Red Bryant added depth at tackle, but he is out with a knee injury suffered against Texas.