While most of the attention paid to the Texas A&M Aggies has been on who will step in and replace Johnny Manziel at quarterback, Kevin Sumlin has a much bigger question to worry about: What is he going to do about his defense? The Aggies defense was dreadful in 2013 and was a serious hindrance to A&M’s overall success and required some serious attention this offseason. But with the announcement of starting defensive end Gavin Stansbury leaving the team for “personal reasons,” the Aggies precarious defensive situation is looking even worse heading into 2014.
Stansbury looked to be the one solid lock for a starting job this fall along a defensive line that had already lost some key contributors. Nose tackle Isaiah Golden was dismissed from the team earlier this year after he and middle linebacker Darian Claiborne (who was also dismissed) were arrested on drug charges. Defensive tackle Ivan Robinson is a major question mark for the 2014 season with an injury after coming in and being a stabilizing presence for the defensive front last season. Now, with Stansbury gone, A&M only has junior Julien Obioha returning for 2014 from their starting defensive line last season and he’ll likely be switching positions from rush end back over to stronside end to replace Stansbury.
The losses are even more significant when you look at the overall struggles of the Texas A&M defense in 2013. They finished dead last in the SEC in total defense, scoring defense, and rushing defense as opposing offenses carved them up. Stansbury was one of the few consistent producers on the defensive front from his strongside defensive end position, recording 47 tackles with three sacks. Having a reliable entity on what was already a shaky defensive front would have been a huge boost to the Aggies. Losing their only steady performer in addition to the rest of their projected starters could be disastrous.
Texas A&M has a serious defensive issue as they head into the 2014 season and may only be exacerbated by the loss of Gavin Stansbury up front. If the Aggies can’t find some reliable options to step up and fix what was one of the worst defenses in college football last season, then it won’t matter who their next quarterback is.