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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A look ahead: What the numbers reveal

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Photo by File
A&M vs. Ole Miss

It’s been, to put it nicely, a rough two weeks for Texas A&M.

Three pick-sixes did the Aggies in against Alabama at home, and penalties plus inconsistency at quarterback led to a 23-3 beat down at Ole Miss. A&M now comes back to College Station for a final three-game home stand that begins with an 11 a.m. “blackout” kickoff against South Carolina on Saturday. 

Head coach Kevin Sumlin is sure to face a ton of questions this week about the quarterback issues and his plans for them. Even with the questions and inconsistencies at the position, this is a game A&M, at least on paper, should win. 

Let’s look at both teams a little more in depth and break down the numbers as A&M prepares to take on its cross division SEC rival. 

214.1: The amount of passing yards the Gamecock defense surrenders per game this season

Linebacker Skai Moore leads the South Carolina defense this season, posting 69 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and recovery and four interceptions. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, A&M will need to lean on the running game, but running the ball has been somewhat of a struggle this year. But even with thin depth, A&M has some talented backs at their disposal. Look for Tra Carson and James White to split a fair amount of carriers on Saturday.

20: Aggie safety Armani Watts made 20 tackles in the loss at Ole Miss. 

As a defense, you never want to have your secondary making 20 tackles in a game. It’s mainly a sign that A&M’s linebackers just aren’t quite where they need to be yet. Do not mistake that for a lack of talent; AJ Hilliard has been essentially alone at the position which has been decimated by injury. Otaro Alaka is out for the season, Shaan Washington was helped off the field against Ole Miss and now they are having to burn red shirts on younger guys and, as coaches would say, “Throw them to the wolves,” to let them learn from experience. Claude George and Richard Moore show flashes of potential greatness in their short time on the field. This game will provide a chance for A&M to let their young guys get some experience against a statistically-bad rushing offense to gain some confidence. However, keep an eye on South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper, who can be a gamechanger both in the receiving game and when the Gamecocks run the Wildcat. 

29th: A&M’s rank nationally when defending the pass, allowing just 191.4 yards per game. 

The secondary, which was a question mark for A&M for much of its time in the SEC, is more physical with receivers and are able to tackle in the open field, which was also a major flaw in A&M’s recent defenses. They will be kept busy this week, as they will have to worry about stopping a run-heavy offense from South Carolina. This week will not be about stopping the pass. No question though, the pass defense is one of A&M’s biggest improvements in 2015.

26:50: The Aggies’ time of possession per game. 

As it was shown in the Ole Miss and Alabama games, if an offense continuously goes three-and-out, it puts the defense in a tough spot. A&M’s defense has held its own when backed into a corner this year, and that’s kept A&M from being completely run out of the stadium in its two losses. The offense needs to run simple plays and form an identity for themselves this week. The Aggies look lost on offense, and that is why they need to lean on the ground game this week. A&M needs to keep its defense off the field as much as possible on Saturday for two reasons: (1) they need their energy late in the game in case it is close, and (2) because, simply put, they deserve a rest after the way they have performed this season.

 

Andre Perrard is a sport management senior and sports reporter for The Battalion.

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