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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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A&M prepares to meet Heisman candidate Daniels, top-ranked LSU offense

Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+defense+takes+down+a+ACU+RB+at+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+ACU+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+18%2C+2023+at+Kyle+Field.+%28Julianne+Shivers%2F+The+Battalion%29
Photo by Photo by Julianne Shivers

Texas A&M’s defense takes down a ACU RB at Texas A&M’s game against ACU on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Julianne Shivers/ The Battalion)

Texas A&M football won’t have much time to rest from a Thanksgiving feast when it takes on No. 14 LSU this weekend.
The nation’s top-scoring attack in the Tigers will collide with the Aggies’ No. 8 defense on Saturday, Nov. 25, to close out the regular season at Tiger Stadium. Senior quarterback Jayden Daniels has led both the LSU offense and the Heisman conversation, while junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper spearheads an A&M defense that hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown in its last two games.
Granted, Mississippi State and Abilene Christian aren’t exactly comparable to an LSU team averaging 46.8 points and 562.2 points per game. The Aggies held the Bulldogs and Wildcats to just a field goal per game, but they would be thankful to hold the Tigers to a field goal per possession.
A&M was able to salvage a disaster of a 2022 season with a 38-23 win over No. 6 LSU at Kyle Field. While the Tigers have grown considerably on the offensive side of the ball, so have the Aggies on defense.
After allowing 209 rushing yards per game last season, the Maroon and White have dropped that to 102 yards on the ground in 2023. Opponents have tallied 286 total yards per game this season compared to 365 yards a year ago. The Aggies’ rush defense ranks first in the SEC while their pass defense is second.
Saturday’s showdown will be a gauge of just how far the defense has come, as A&M hasn’t faced an offense the caliber of LSU’s. The Bayou Bengals can tear teams apart both through the air and on the ground, and it starts with Daniels behind center.
The Tigers’ recent 56-14 win over Georgia State epitomized Daniels’ talent, as he passed for six touchdowns and ran for two more to tie the program record for touchdowns in a game. He was named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts as LSU scored a touchdown on each possession.
Daniels’ 413 passing yards last week added to his conference-high of 3,577, while his 96 yards on 10 carries moved him into second in the SEC with 1,014 rushing yards. BetMGM has the Arizona State transfer as second in the Heisman trophy odds, just behind Oregon graduate quarterback Bo Nix.
“He’s a problem, he’s a true weapon,” interim head coach Elijah Robinson said. “We’ll have to be on top of our game to give ourselves a chance.”
On the other end of Daniels’ passing attack is a talented stable of receivers, highlighted by Biletnikoff Award semifinalists in juniors Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. The duo has combined for 26 touchdowns this season and over 2,400 receiving yards, with both receivers placing in the conference’s top four in yardage.
Senior wide receiver Kyren Lacy commands attention as well with six touchdowns to his name, two of which came against the Panthers last weekend.
“These guys are first round draft picks,” Robinson said. “They have a talented group and it’ll be a great challenge for us. Our guys are looking forward to it.”
Daniels is undoubtedly the Tigers’ most talented rusher, but junior running back Logan Diggs adds a stocky frame with nearly the same amount of carries as his quarterback this season. He averages 5.6 yards per carry for 635 yards and six scores as a complement to Daniels’ speed.
The versatility of LSU’s offense will require big games from A&M’s linebacker corps of junior Edgerrin Cooper, freshman Taurean York and senior Chris Russell Jr. While the unit must be aware of the Tigers’ passing game, it will also need to keep a spy on Daniels when he runs the ball.
[Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin] is an aggressive defensive playcaller,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “They mix things up very well, especially on their third down packages. You’ve got to be on your toes. You certainly have to do a really good job in … protecting the quarterback. You’ve got to be able to find a way to mitigate some of the potential negative plays.”
The Aggies’ defensive backs in junior Tyreek Chappell and sophomores Bryce Anderson and Deuce Harmon will be tasked with keeping up with LSU’s receivers, as well as sophomore tight end Mason Taylor. Taylor’s 6-foot-6, 255 pound frame make him a big target — literally — with 27 catches for 251 yards.
Graduate DB Josh DeBerry missed A&M’s past two games with an injury and is day-to-day, according to Robinson. The Boston College transfer leads the Aggies with two interceptions and seven pass breakups to go with 4.5 tackles for loss.
Preventing the Tigers’ offense from building momentum will be crucial to keeping the Aggies in the game. If LSU can sustain a sizable lead early on, there are doubts if A&M has the offensive firepower to keep pace.

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a senior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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