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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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5 things to watch for during A&M-Mississippi State

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Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

A combination of Mississippi State’s scoring struggles and Texas A&M’s fourth ranked rush defense is something to look out for in Saturday’s evening matchup.

1. Mississippi State’s offensive struggles
Head coach Joe Moorhead’s offense has been surprisingly awful this year. Mississippi State senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has put up disappointing performances, mostly due to forced throws and missed assignments along the offensive line. Opposing teams’ defensive fronts have easily been able to find holes, pressure Fitzgerald and create mayhem in the backfield. In three of the last four games for the Bulldogs, they have scored seven points or less. This past week against LSU, they only put up a mere three points in Death Valley. Mississippi State will have to get creative this week if they want to make a dent in the A&M defense.
2. A&M’s offensive line
This game will undoubtedly be decided on the line of scrimmage. Mississippi State comes in at No. 6 in total defense and No. 20 in rushing defense. Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat has been a force for the Bulldogs, having already produced nine sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. A&M will have to create time for sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond to make plays in another loud and hostile environment. Making holes for Trayveon Williams will also be a priority in this game. The emphasis on blocking will stand out more than any other game this season. If the offensive line comes through, A&M will come out on top in Starkville.
3. Creating separation
It has been a standout year for A&M receivers. Tight end Jace Sternberger and wideout Cameron Buckley have been phenomenal under pressure. With wide receiver Kendrick Rogers back in the mix, these three could make a significant impact as long as they create a lot of separation. The Bulldogs’ secondary has made it hard for receivers to get a lot of breathing room from week to week, only allowing 13.6 points per game this season. Expect Sternberger to be targeted the most by Mond.
4. Big plays from defensive front
This game has the potential for the most explosive performance from the defense to date. A&M has been consistent in their rushing defense numbers, holding on to the fourth best rush defense in Division I play. After watching how Mississippi State operates for two weeks, they will exploit weak points in the offensive line through blitzes and loading the box. Better yet, Fitzgerald will try to run constantly throughout the game, creating opportunities for the defense to get off the field quickly. Mississippi State may never see A&M territory.
5. Another statement win on the road
A&M currently holds the third place spot in the SEC West at 3-1, behind LSU and Alabama. With this win, the Aggies would be tied for second. Mississippi State is known as one of the loudest and most hostile environments in college football, and a win in Starkville would be the biggest of the year.

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