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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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6 takeaways from A&M-South Carolina

Wide+receiver+Ainias+Smith+running+for+a+95+yard+touchdown+return
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Wide receiver Ainias Smith running for a 95 yard touchdown return

No. 17 Texas A&M football held its eighth game of the season on Saturday, Oct. 23, this time against South Carolina University, winning 44-14. This was A&M’s first home game since the Alabama upset on Oct. 9.

Here’s what we learned:

Ainia-lating special teams

Junior wide receiver Ainias Smith kicked off the game for Texas A&M’s special teams with a bang. On the first punt return for an A&M touchdown this season, Smith ran the ball for 95 yards into the endzone. The Missouri City native’s skill was also on display on the offensive side of the ball. By the end of the night, Smith had also logged 28 receiving yards.
Smith said he could tell he was going to get a good punt return as soon as he caught the ball in the first quarter.
“When I saw the ball in the air, I looked down for a second and was like, ‘Yeah, I might get a return right here,’” Smith said. “And then, shoot, I caught it and I had a little bit of room, so I just took off.”
Defensive domination
The Aggies only allowed the Gamecocks to post a total of 11 offensive yards in the first half. As the third quarter ran its course, this total of 11 yards moved down to 10 due to a sack by senior defensive lineman Tyree Johnson. South Carolina’s senior quarterback Zeb Noland had a rough night thanks in part to the A&M defense, only managing to throw for 30 yards before being subbed out for senior backup quarterback Jason Brown. When it came to tackles, the Aggies totaled an even 50, with freshman defensive back Jardin Gilbert leading the way with five, four of which were solo tackles.
While the defense did in fact command the ball game, it needs to continue that control into the fourth quarter, junior safety Demani Richardson said. 
“Yes, for sure, [the defense dominated tonight],” Richardson said. “We let up a little bit in the fourth quarter; I was mad they scored twice. But I feel we dominated through three quarters, and we just have to fix the little mistakes we did make in the fourth quarter and make sure we finish every game [through the fourth quarter].”
Jalen “record breaking” Wydermyer
Junior tight end Jalen Wydermyer now holds A&M’s record for highest receiving yards ever recorded by a tight end with the Aggies. The Dickinson native broke Martellus Bennett’s record of 1,246 career receiving yards in the first quarter off of a 25-yard touchdown reception. Wydermyer later totaled another 50 receiving yards and one touchdown, sitting at a current career total of 1,306 receiving yards. Additionally, Wydermyer is now eighth in A&M’s all-time receiving touchdowns, behind Mike Evans, who sits above him with one more touchdown than Wydermyer’s current 16.

Wydermyer said he gives the glory to God.
“[Being A&M’s new leader] is a blessing,” Wydermyer said. “It’s a blessing to be on that list … I never thought I’d be in this position, but I’m blessed to be here.”

Total domination

The Aggies’ domination did not stop on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, the Aggies killed the game as well. A&M’s offense put up a monstrous 44 points against the Gamecocks. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns, with the offense totaling 477 yards, 290 of which were from rushing. Also, in regard to the rushing game, sophomore running back Devon Achane and junior running back Isaiah Spiller once again combined for well over 200 yards, with a total of 256 coming from the pair. All of this, accompanied with the defense only allowing 4 yards in the third quarter and the special team’s touchdown, and it was clear — the Aggies dominated in all aspects.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said he was pleased with the performances on both sides of the ball, and later added he was also pleased with special teams.

“We were able to play very physical on the offensive line and the defensive lines,” Fisher said. “We played very well in those regards and allowed our skilled guys to really play.”

Out for the season?

During a fourth down conversion attempt late in the third quarter, Johnson went down, and he went down hard. He had to be helped off the field by two assistants, with Fisher seen walking with them. The defensive lineman was not putting any pressure on his right knee, hopping off the field on his left knee only. Johnson was immediately taken to the medical tent and, from the press box, was not seen until there were 12 minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

Johnson appeared in the postgame press conference limping with a boot on and said he’ll work off his injury with A&M’s trainers.

“It’s nothing too much,” Johnson said. “[We’re] just football players, we’ll get backseat trainers in and rehab on my body. That’s all we can do right now.”

Gaining experience

Freshman walk-on quarterback Blake Bost was given the green light by Fisher in the fourth quarter. Following the injury of redshirt freshman quarterback Haynes King against the University of Colorado at Boulder, Calzada became the starting quarterback. Bost was originally the third-string but is now listed as the backup for Calzada on the depth chart. Statwise, the Aggies did not see a lot from the walk on, with Bost going 0 for 2.

Smith said all backups who came in against South Carolina, not just Bost, will have a lot to learn from the October contest.

“For all of those guys who got in, to be able to get that playing time, that experience, that feeling of being out there in that stadium; especially in Kyle Field with the 12th Man, that stadium is always going to be rocking with us,” Smith said. “This is their first time being out there, they were probably a little tired. It’s definitely going to be something that is good for them to look back at, learn from and get better.”

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