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

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

The Battalion

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A&M defense prepares to take on potent Auburn offense

Photo by FILE

Texas A&M’s defense will prepare to face a strong Auburn offense, led by junior quarterback Bo Nix at Kyle Field on Saturday, Nov. 6. 

An old adage says defense wins championships, and the Texas A&M football team has kept this mindset throughout the season.

The A&M defense looks to extend its reign over opposing offenses in its Saturday, Nov. 6 matchup versus No. 12 Auburn. This season, the maroon and white has only allowed an average of 16 points scored per game. Even still, the 13th-ranked Aggies will no doubt face a challenge against the Tigers, whose veteran quarterback experience and strong running game have guided them to a 6-2 record.

The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Bo Nix, an Alabama native now in his third year as the team’s starter under center. Nix has shown an ability to both pass and run the ball effectively, tallying 1,764 passing yards and nine touchdowns, as well as four touchdowns on the ground. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said he had high praise for the young signal caller.

“Bo’s a great competitor, man,” Fisher said. “He can beat you with his legs, [and] his arm. He’s competitive as heck. He’s tough as heck, and he’s just making really good decisions and being smart with the football.”

Complementing Nix is the running back duo of sophomore Tank Bigsby and freshman Jarquez Hunter. The two have combined for ten touchdowns this season, with Bigsby rushing for 666 yards while Hunter has tallied 530 yards to individually average 7.7 yards per carry. Bigsby was key to the Tigers’ 31-20 victory over then-No. 10 Ole Miss last week, racking up rushing 140 yards and a touchdown.

Completing the Auburn offense is its receiver corps, to which Nix has spread the wealth to this season. Eight receivers have accounted for touchdowns, led by senior wide receiver Demetris Robertson, whose three touchdowns lead the Tigers in scoring plays snagged from the air. Additionally, Robertson is second on the team in receiving yards with 367, just eight behind sophomore wide receiver Kobe Hudson.

According to Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, offensive consistency will be key for the Tigers to emerge victorious in Aggieland, a place where they have yet to drop a game to A&M. In the teams’ nine matchups since 2012, the visiting team has won nearly each year, with the sole exception being in 2018.

“We’ve got to make plays when there’s opportunities to make them,” Harisin said. “You play against a team like A&M, you’ve got to execute and be consistent throughout the game. Every drive we get, we’ve got to execute the plays that are called.”

For the Aggies, a strong defensive line will be key to stopping the Tigers’ powerful rushing attack. Senior Tyree Johnson, junior DeMarvin Leal and graduate student Michael Clemons have anchored the unit for A&M, combining for 15 sacks this season. As a whole, the Aggies’ defensive line has produced 24 sacks this year, good for fourth in the Southeastern Conference.

Having reeled in nine interceptions this season, the Aggies also boast a strong secondary which, coupled with the defensive line, has induced opponents into committing costly turnovers on multiple occasions. Led by senior defensive back Leon O’Neal Jr. and sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson, the unit looks to contain Nix and limit his offensive production.

“It’s critical that we wrap up and keep ourselves disciplined,” junior defensive back Demani Richardson said. “It’s critical that we stick to our guys, because [Nix] is going to extend plays.”

Saturday’s matchup between the Aggies and Tigers is set to be a critical game in the SEC West, with A&M looking to extend its winning streak to four games before taking on No. 15 Ole Miss on the road. However, the team acknowledges that it must live in the moment and not think too far ahead. 

“I think the key to being able to handle big moments, big games and the whole situation of playing well for a complete game is the preparation,” Fisher said. “And the only way you can do that, as we say, be where your feet are. ‘Right now, what are we doing? Right now, what is my focus on?’ Then go to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing.”

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