Texas A&M football visits South Carolina on Saturday in Columbia. Here are your three keys to an Aggie victory.
By Matt Zemek
Here we are at the start of November, and the Texas A&M Aggies are in very good position for a New Year’s Six bowl bid. It’s not what most people expected, but it’s a real part of the current college football scene. With LSU cratering and Auburn struggling, the path for Texas A&M to finish second in the SEC West is wide open. Georgia or Florida will lose its second game of the season this upcoming weekend. If the loser of that game loses a third game at some point later in the regular season, Texas A&M would be in line to finish third in the SEC, behind Alabama and the SEC East champion. That would set up the Aggies for a New Year’s Six bowl. That bowl might not have a lot of fans on hand, but the payout and prestige would enhance A&M’s reputation and give Jimbo Fisher a significant accomplishment to build on in his tenure as the Aggies’ head coach. Taking care of business against teams it should beat – such as South Carolina this Saturday – is how A&M will capitalize on this golden opportunity.
1 – Maintain defensive improvements
A&M has already faced the two best offenses in the SEC this season: Alabama and Florida. The Aggies were torched by both Mac Jones and Kyle Trask, but the good news (beyond the fact that the Aggies won’t have to play either of these teams later in the year) is that Texas A&M has clearly learned from those experiences. The Aggies aren’t getting caught out of position nearly as often. They aren’t giving up nearly as many home-run plays. A&M has established a groove on offense, so the Aggies know that attaining an elite standard of performance on defense is their ultimate goal, merely being average to above-average on defense – avoiding the bad performances against Alabama and Florida – will win nearly every remaining game on their schedule. That applies to this contest against South Carolina. Sustaining the modest but real progress made on the defensive side of the ball will be sufficient versus the Gamecocks.
2 – Don’t be greedy
The LSU offense which got completely destroyed this past weekend at Auburn is the same LSU offense which scored more than 50 points against South Carolina’s defense a week earlier. The Gamecocks are feeble on this side of the ball. They do not have the horses to keep up with Kellen Mond and the rest of an A&M offense which hit its stride against Florida and has continued to function well in subsequent weeks. The Aggies don’t have to be especially complicated in their formations or adventurous in their play selection. They have fast skill people who can make catches on short passes in open space and turn those short passes into long gainers. Kellen Mond doesn’t have to make extremely difficult throws into tight windows. A&M should be able to play offense with a large margin for error. The points will come as long as the Aggies make sound, sensible decisions.
3 – Nothing has been achieved yet
A&M’s enemy is a sense that the Aggies have arrived, that they have figured it out. No they haven’t. This team hasn’t achieved enough to think that it can coast through games. Putting in the work, devoting full concentration to the task at hand, and taking the field with humility are all part of a winning mindset for this team. Assuming it can just show up and win without preparing – or without respecting any opponent – is exactly what will make this and other SEC games unnecessarily complicated for A&M.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:00 PM CT (7:00 PM ET). You can watch this Texas A&M football game on the ESPN Network.