Beleaguered Aggie defense looking for positives

Updated: October 7, 2003, 3:50 PM ET

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M offensive tackle Alan Reuber knows the sting of public scrutiny all too well. That's why he's so sympathetic to the Aggies' beleaguered defense.

"For four years we were the kicking dogs offensively and the offensive line especially," Reuber said Tuesday. "We were the ones trying to pick up the slack so I know exactly where they are."

The Aggies' once proud defense has been booted around for three straight weeks, most recently by Texas Tech, which lit up the scoreboard in Saturday's 59-28 loss to the Red Raiders.

It was the most points allowed by an Aggies defense in school history and the young defenders still have a tough schedule ahead that includes No. 1 ranked Oklahoma and Texas.

"You can't mentally let yourself get kicked down because it's really hard to get up," Reuber said. "I think they're not in a place where you guys think. I think they're better off."

The Aggies offense hasn't been setting records either in coach Dennis Franchione's first season but the defense, dotted with true and red-shirt freshmen, has been allowing records to happen.

The Aggies defense ranks 96th nationally in total defense and is 91st in pass defense.

The defense is taking the biggest share of blame for the Aggies' 2-3 start.

"It's (criticism) not something we didn't expect," said safety Jaxson Appel. "We haven't played well enough to keep people from harping on us. Until we do, they're not going to stop. We have to put the blame squarely on our shoulders.

"The only people who can stop that is us and the way we play."

The art of tackling has eluded the Aggies much of the season. Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush found one of his team's defensive stats particularly offensive.

"It was amazing how many yards they (Texas Tech) had after the point of contact," Torbush said. "They made well over 200 yards and you have to give them credit for that. But at the same time we've just got to do a better job of tackling."

The Aggies have lost three straight games, their longest losing streak since 1980. Their losses have been to teams with a combined 12-2 record but the Aggies aren't looking back.

"Our tackling has to get better," Appel said. "We watched a couple of plays and coach Torbush pointed out all those times where we missed tackles, they'd get seven or eight more yards.

"That tends to add up during the course of the game. We've got to learn to concentrate on tackling at the point of attack this week."

The Aggies watched film of their loss to the Red Raiders and hoped to move on to Baylor, which has won three in a row.

"We knew that (Texas Tech's) offense could do that," Franchione said. "They've done it five weeks in a row. We've played some good teams. I'm not one to make excuses. We just have to find a way."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index