Tennessee-Texas A&M grades: Aggies’ playmakers shine in win

The Aggies held onto win after blowing a big lead to a Tennessee team led by star DE Derek Barnett and RB Alvin Kamara.

| 9 months ago
(Scott Halleran, Getty Images)

(Scott Halleran, Getty Images)

Tennessee-Texas A&M grades: Aggies’ playmakers shine in win

Texas A&M Aggies 45, Tennessee Volunteers 38

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Texas A&M’s 45-38 double overtime win over Tennessee:

Texas A&M Aggies

Quarterback grade: Trevor Knight, 70.0

It was another up-and-down performance for Knight. He made a handful of throws on go routes that were in absolutely perfect place, but then he’d spike an easy wide receiver screen into the dirt a few plays later. Even on the post route in overtime, Knight forced Christian Kirk to make a miraculous catch on what was a wide-open throw. Thankfully he was rock-solid carrying the ball, picking up 116 yards on 15 carries, including that huge 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Top offensive grades:

WR Josh Reynolds, 82.1

WR Christian Kirk, 78.9

RB Trayveon Williams, 76.5

C Erik McCoy, 75.9

WR Frank Iheanacho, 71.1

Playmaking trio fuels offense

As you can see from the grades above, wide receivers Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk and running back Trayveon Williams were the lifeblood of the A&M offense, accounting for 386 of the Aggies’ 592 total yards. Kirk’s return to form couldn’t have come at a better time, as the A&M offense had to rely on quicker passes with how much they were getting overpowered upfront. QB Trevor Knight was pressured on 35.9 percent of his dropbacks despite having 29 of his 39 passes leave his hand in 2.5 seconds or less (meaning he was under very quick pressure).

Top defensive grades:

DT Daylon Mack, 81.1

DE Myles Garrett, 80.7

CB Priest Willis, 80.4

DT Kingsley Keke, 79.8

LB Claude George, 77.4

Missed tackles almost sink Aggies

There were some impressive individual performances on the Texas A&M defense, but as a whole there was one glaring issue all game long: tackling. They combined to miss 31 tackles on 101 attempts. That’s almost averaging a miss once every three attempts. Safety Armani Watts (who made the game-sealing interception) missed seven tackles to lead the team, while linebacker Richard Moore missed more tackles (4) than he made (3). With their tackling woes, the Aggies were lucky to come out of this one with the W.

Tennessee Volunteers

Quarterback grade: Josh Dobbs, 66.1

The stat line for Dobbs definitely does not match up with his grade in this one, and for good reason — it wasn’t him doing much of the work in the pass game. Of his 391 yards, 314 of them came after the catch. And when he did try to throw the ball down the field, the results weren’t inspiring. On throws targeted 10-plus yards past the line of scrimmage, Dobbs was 2-of-14. It wasn’t a bad performance from Dobbs, but his pass-catchers deserve more of the credit than he does for the Vols’ gaudy passing game production.

Top offensive grades:

RB Alvin Kamara, 88.1

C Coleman Thomas, 74.1

LT Brett Kendrick, 72.8

WR JaJuan Jennings, 71.7

WR Tyler Byrd, 70.4

Alvin Kamara puts on an incredible performance

After an early fumble at the tail end of one of the most impressive runs after a catch on a screen pass that you’ll ever see, the Volunteers’ backup running back (starter Jalen Hurd was out with an injury) had one of the highest-graded performances of any running back this season. On 26 touches he broke 13 tackles, averaged 5.6 yards after contact per rush, and 21.6 yards after the catch. It’s a shame the game couldn’t have gone on any longer, as Kamara was playing on another level Saturday.

Top defensive grades:

LB Colton Jumper, 84.4

DE Derek Barnett, 83.7

DT Danny O’Brien, 79.3

DT Kahlil McKenzie, 78.6

DE Corey Vereen, 77.4

Derek Barnett outplays Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett may have been hampered by injury, but this battle between two of college football’s best edge rushers goes to the Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. Barnett had a sack, three hits, and three hurries on 33 pass rushes to earn his second-highest pass-rushing grade of the season. He also had a pass defensed when asked to split wide and defend a seam route run by A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds — one of the most freakishly athletic plays you’ll see from a 265-pound man all season.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

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