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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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One step away
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A&M hopes to turn Tide in its favor

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Reveille and her handler sophomore Lucas Scroggins run out on to Kyle Field.

In its most anticipated game of the season, Texas A&M will welcome the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide to Kyle Field as the only SEC West program with two conference losses.
Consecutive losses to Mississippi State and Arkansas have unranked the Aggies in the latest AP Poll for the first time since 2019. This weekend’s matchup was looked at in the preseason as a clash of undefeated top-five teams with College Football Playoff implications, but instead A&M will try to avoid falling to a 3-3 record and its first 0-3 start to conference play since joining the SEC.
No. 1 Alabama’s Heisman candidate quarterback Bryce Young has thrown 17 touchdowns to two interceptions in just five games, leading the third-best scoring offense in college football in his first year as a starter. Fisher said his players cannot be intimidated by Alabama’s individual athletes, adding they need to put on blinders to the national attention this game will receive.
“Your opponents are faceless,” Fisher said. “It’s great to be in a big game and all that, but you can’t look at that. You have to learn to do that.”
With injuries stacking in recent weeks, young players had to fill starting positions early in their development, which doesn’t always show positive returns going against conference opponents that are physically mature and well-coached. Junior tight end Jalen Wydermyer, who said his 2019 two-touchdown outing against Alabama was his breakout game, said the young Aggies can gain confidence for the future by making big plays against a high-quality opponent like the Crimson Tide.
“All that matters with young players is confidence,” Wydermyer said. “Years before [freshman year], I never thought I would even play against Alabama. It was crazy to score touchdowns on them, and it boosted my confidence way up.”
Fisher said in a perfect world, his younger players would be able to grow more before playing, but reality is different in the current situation. Junior offensive lineman Luke Matthews and senior defensive backs Myles Jones and Brian George are out for the remainder of the season with injuries, Fisher said at a press conference on Monday, Oct. 4.
“We’re having some guys [play] that you wish could’ve grew up before they have to get thrown in there,” Fisher said. “But that’s football — you don’t know when those times are going to come.”
Fisher complimented the successes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has earned a .884 winning percentage and lost only 15 conference games since taking over the Crimson Tide in 2007. Fisher said what has allowed Saban to be “extraordinary” in Tuscaloosa is his team’s attention to both detail and the basics.
“It’s extraordinary, he’s done a great job and built a great culture there,” Fisher said. “They’re extremely talented, but they’re very fundamentally sound. They do the ordinary things very well.”
Wydermyer hopes his teammates can emulate Alabama’s preciseness by hammering down the smaller techniques in practice, and little things not being perfected are what is harming the maroon and white on the field, he said.
“I want to see us have a great week of practice, catch all our balls and make the right reads,” Wydermyer said. “That’s really what kills us is the little things. If we can knock out those little things, that’s how we can be successful.”
Saban said the Aggies have a lot of talent in all three phases of the game, noting A&M is probably the most talented team the Crimson Tide will have had to face so far in 2021. Alabama has faced No. 17 Ole Miss and No. 20 Florida in two of its last three games.
“[Kyle Field] is a very challenging place to play,” Saban said. “[A&M’s] got a lot of really good players. This is all-around a really good team, maybe the best team we’ve played to this point from a personnel standpoint.”
Significant criticism has been thrown toward redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada, who has thrown five touchdowns to four interceptions and has a 46.8 quarterback rating in his short time as first string. Fisher said his locker room has not lost any faith in his signal caller, and Calzada believes in himself as well, despite the hardships he’s faced from the outside in the last two weeks.
“Any time you’re a quarterback and don’t win, everything is going to be scrutinized,” Fisher said. “You’re touching the ball every time. I think he believes in himself wholeheartedly and I think our players believe in him.”
Alabama and A&M kick off at Kyle Field on CBS at 7 p.m. on Oct. 9. Alabama leads the all-time series 11-2 entering the 14th matchup between the schools.

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