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Aggies On Hunt For Better Defense Against Auburn

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Alabama v Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION (AP) — No. 7 Texas A&M’s offense is rolling as usual this season behind another stellar season from Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

The same couldn’t be said for the defense. Texas A&M is allowing 32 points and more than 474 yards a game.

The Aggies have been good on defense in spurts this season, but are looking to put together a complete game as they prepare for Saturday’s game against No. 24 Auburn.

“That’s what we keep talking to these guys about: consistency,” defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. “Let’s play an entire game.”

A major problem for Texas A&M this season has been giving up big plays. The Aggies allowed touchdown passes of 50 and 70 yards in their win over Mississippi last week.

“The thing that you see in some of the explosive plays is that guys are pressing a little bit,” Snyder said. “We’re running pretty well, so keep playing well. There’s no need to press. What we’re doing is working … let’s not give up the explosives and let people back into the game. That will be a learning lesson taken from this game.”

Now they face an offense built around a strong running game. Auburn is averaging 287 yards rushing, which leads the Southeastern Conference and is seventh in the nation. The Aggies rank 104th by allowing 201.2 yards rushing a game.

The Tigers have used a diverse rushing attack and are one of only four teams in the country to have four different 100-yard rushers this season.

Five things to know about the Auburn-Texas A&M game:

MAKING A STATEMENT: Saturday is the fourth meeting in this series, and the Aggies have won the first three — including a 63-21 win last season in Auburn. The Tigers are focused on erasing the memories of last year’s lopsided loss and showing that they are a much-improved team this season.

“This is a big game that we can really make a statement to the world and make Auburn how it used to be,” running back Corey Grant said.

LABHART’S LEAP: Texas A&M receiver Travis Labhart has made the leap from playing on the school’s women’s basketball practice team as a freshman to walking on the football team and finally earning a football scholarship this season as a senior. Labhart had just three career receptions before a breakout game last week against Mississippi where he had eight receptions for 97 yards.

MARSHALL’S BACK: Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall will return after missing last week’s win over Western Carolina to rest a knee he injured Oct. 5 against Mississippi. Coach Gus Malzahn isn’t worried about Marshall being rusty after sitting out a week.

“He was locked in during practice last week,” Malzahn said. “We are past the midway point. If it was early in the season I would be concerned, but I am not too concerned now.”

LAMBO’S LEG: Walk-on kicker Josh Lambo gained the kicking job at A&M after early-season struggles by Taylor Bertolet. Lambo is a former soccer player who was drafted by FC Dallas in the first round in 2008. When Lambo’s soccer career ended in 2012, he enrolled at Texas A&M and joined the football team. On Saturday his 33-yard field goal as time expired gave A&M the 41-38 win over Ole Miss. It was the first game-winning field goal as time expired for the Aggies since 1992.

EVEN EVANS: Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans has at least one 20-yard reception in 17 of his 19 career games and he has had at least two receptions in every game. He leads the SEC and is sixth in the nation with 122.8 yards receiving a game. He has five touchdowns this season to match his total from last year. He had 279 yards receiving against Alabama to break a school-record that had stood since 1965. The sophomore already ranks fifth in school history for career yards receiving with 1,842 yards.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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