Turnovers trump yardage for A&M defense

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It would be easy to look at the box score from Texas A&M's win over Arkansas on Saturday and surmise that the Aggies struggled on defense.

After all, they allowed 515 yards.

But the yardage doesn't tell the entire story. The numbers coach Kevin Sumlin was most concerned -- and happy -- with were 10 (the number of points Arkansas scored) and three (the number of turnovers the Aggies' defense collected).

Both helped the Aggies roll to their 58-10 win over the Razorbacks.

The turnovers were of particular significance because of the way they changed Saturday's game. The three Razorback turnovers resulted in 17 Aggies points. The first, an interception by Steven Terrell, was returned 30 yards to the 50 and set up what eventually became an 11-yard Ben Malena touchdown reception from Johnny Manziel for a 20-10 second-quarter lead.

The second, another Terrell interception, came on Arkansas' second-half opening drive. Instead of the Razorbacks chipping into a 27-10 Aggies lead, the Aggies extended it after a Taylor Bertolet field goal following the interception.

The third seemed to seal the Razorbacks' fate, as Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore poked the ball out of running back Knile Davis' arm, and Tramain Jacobs picked up and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown and a 44-10 Texas A&M lead.

"We've been talking ever since we've been here about critical plays and game-changing plays," Sumlin said. "Those kind of things aren't just turnovers, but they're game changers. That's what we're looking for and we had a number of those today."

Moore's wasn't just about being at the right place at the right time, but also because of effort. Moore initially had a chance to tackle Davis and blew by him but turned on the jets, chased him down from behind and poked the ball out.

"I was so determined since I missed that tackle that I need to go out and make something happen and be a difference maker," Moore said. "Our coaches, [defensive coordinator Mark] Snyder and [defensive line coach Terry] Price preach about how we need to be difference makers, [force] turnovers and get our turnover margin up. I took the perfect opportunity, because they already had some fumble issues early in the game, and he wasn't paying attention and didn't see me, so I just came behind him and punched the ball out."