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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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Junior+Wide+Receiver%26%23160%3BChristian+Kirk%26%23160%3Bcatches+a+60-yd+touchdown+pass.
Photo by Photo by: Kevin Chou

Junior Wide Receiver Christian Kirk catches a 60-yd touchdown pass.

With rumors swirling after reports surfaced Tuesday that Kevin Sumlin will be let go at the end of the season regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game, Texas A&M will set its sights on LSU Saturday night at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The Tigers (8-3, 5-2 SEC) are the lone SEC West opponent the Aggies (7-4, 4-3 SEC) have not beaten yet, but they will look to end that streak in what could be Sumlin’s last game on the sidelines, a fact that is not lost on the A&M players.
“It gives us a lot of motivation with all that outside noise,” wide receiver Christian Kirk said at Tuesday’s press conference. “We know how much he does for us and we’re all going to be behind him. Not a lot of coaches go in to Death Valley and get a win, so for us to be able to do that for him that would be awesome.”
Sumlin, for his part, is also focused solely on LSU.
“I came here to Texas A&M to win football games, so what we do and how we’ve done it has been the right way. It will continue to be the right way. I’m in the process right now of winning this week, and I think what this team has done is be able to focus on what is important in this building,” said Sumlin, who is 51-25 in six years at A&M. “As a coach and as a player, you can’t worry about what people say. What you can worry about is the response of your team, the response of the people in this building and how they perform — that’s where my focus is right now.”
LSU dominated the Aggies 54-39 last year on Senior Night and will once again present a host of challenges. Derrius Guice, who rushed for 285 yards and four touchdowns last season, looks to be fully healthy after battling a leg injury earlier this season, and fellow running back Darrel Williams has been outstanding of late as well.
First-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada directs an offense that is big on pre-snap motion to confuse opposing defenses, and the backfield duo of Guice and Williams creates bigger passing lanes for Danny Etling to exploit.
“They’ve got real speed on the perimeter and a big, strong offensive line,” Sumlin said. “They’ve been able to generate a running games that’s really good and because of their speed on the perimeter they’ve been able to get behind folks.”
Defensively, the Tigers boast a balanced unit that ranks fifth in the conference in both rushing and passing defense. Nick Starkel will likely need to continue to play well and convert big plays in the passing game for the Aggies to move the ball effectively.
The Aggie defense, which Sumlin indicated could gain defensive end Justin Dunning this week, is coming off a game in which they held a potent Ole Miss offense scoreless in the second half and will try to build on that against the Tigers.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum going in,” said safety Armani Watts. “We’re coming off a road win, we know what if feels like being on the road and what it takes to get a W.”
Much of the focus will be on Sumlin’s future. Brent Zwerneman quoted a source that said the A&M brass has already decided to fire Sumlin, but Sumlin said he has not heard that and expects to be the coach in 2018.
“It’s definitely a big-time game, and it’s always a big-time matchup. If we go out and execute we know that we can come out with a win. If we don’t, they’re obviously good enough to beat us,” Kirk said. “We know that if we can get this win against LSU we can set ourselves up for a better bowl game. We’re just focused on this week and getting this win to finish this season strong.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised on the SEC Network with Tom Hart and Jordan Rodgers on the call.

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