Texas A&M passing attack definitely will test Auburn’s secondary

They’ve got it all.

That was Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s description of Texas A&M’s receiving corps.

Well, part of the description at least. Steele then elaborated.

“I don’t know how you could put together four or five guys that present any more problems than they do,” he said. “They’re very, very good.”

The Texas A&M receiving corps is one of the best in the country. There is depth (11 wide receivers already have at least one reception), experience (eight of the 11 are upperclassmen), speed (especially with Christian Kirk and Speedy Noil) and size (especially with Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones).

Trevor Knight has thrown for 583 yards and four TDs, and will be throwing against an iffy secondary Saturday. RAY CARLIN/USA TODAY SPORTS

Trevor Knight has thrown for 583 yards and four TDs, and will be throwing against an iffy secondary Saturday. RAY CARLIN/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Aggies will look to exploit a depth-shy secondary. Before the season began, Jamel Dean, a potential starter at cornerback, went down with a knee injury. Auburn currently ranks 94th in the country in pass defense. Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight likely will rely on a mixture of short, quick throws and deep routes. The latter has been an issue for Auburn; the Tigers have surrendered a league-high five completions of at least 30 yards, along with nine of at least 20 yards.

“As a secondary, we know the game depends on us,” Auburn senior cornerback Joshua Holsey. “They’re going to come in here and throw the ball a lot. We can’t let them throw it for 300, 400 yards.”

While the Tigers have given up passing yardage, they haven’t given up many points. Auburn allowed just 19 points to Clemson in a season-opening and has given up just one touchdown pass in two games. That means A&M will have to capitalize on its chances in the red zone, something offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone believes the Aggies are ready to do.

“Real estate is at a premium in the red zone and you have to make a split-second decision. Sometimes that doesn’t always work out right. Last week, Trevor threw a pick down there, but I don’t want him to be scared to make that throw,” Mazzone said. “But I do want him to be smart. And that’s a fine line.”

Part of deciding whether to risk a throw is being able to read the defense, a trait at which Knight is improving.

“Trevor has gotten better at playing with his eyes,” Mazzone said. “He’s not scanning anymore. He’s able to focus on the things that are important to him in the play, and important to the play overall.”

Saturday, if Knight keeps improving, his confidence will only build from there. Succeeding against an SEC team as a starter would go miles for his confidence.

At that point, Kevin Steele would be correct: A&M’s passing game really would have it all.

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(You can follow Cavender Neutze on Twitter @neutz9)

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