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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’s defense reaches FBS milestone

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior defensive back Demani Richardson spoke on the importance of younger players gaining valuable experience and playing time following the victory over South Carolina. 

After an up and down start to the season for No. 14 Texas A&M’s defense, the line and dropbacks have flexed their collective muscles in its blowout victory over South Carolina.
South Carolina found yards, in addition to points, hard to come by in their 44-14 loss to A&M on Saturday, Oct. 23. The maroon and white’s defense was reminiscent of last year’s unit who finished ninth in yards allowed per game. South Carolina only had 15 yards of offense going into the fourth quarter. This was the fewest yards allowed by an FBS team through three quarters in the past 15 years.
A&M’s defensive line dominated South Carolina in all phases of the game. South Carolina had negative rushing yards for the majority of the game and were also unable to protect their quarterback, senior Zeb Noland, in passing plays. A&M’s constant pressure led to either hurried throws or sacks, in addition to three forced turnovers in the game.
The Aggies did a great job of stopping the Gamecocks on third down, limiting them to 0-9 heading into the fourth quarter. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said this was because of A&M’s success on first and second downs.
“When you win first and second down, [and] have those third and longs — I think we had one third and short we stopped them on, but most of them were more than third-and-6 or more [plays],” Fisher said. “Our defensive line was outstanding in the game, sacking the quarterback, affecting the quarterback and playing the run.”
One of the more valuable A&M players on Saturday night was defensive lineman Tyree Johnson, who totaled two of A&M’s three sacks and continued recent strong play. Johnson did leave the game at the end of the third quarter with an injury and was seen in a walking boot in the postgame presser.
Fisher said Johnson’s injury doesn’t look serious and he is currently playing at a high level for A&M’s defense.
“I’m hoping [Johnson’s] all right,” Fisher said. “He got nicked up there, but I think he’ll be OK. His ability to rush the passer, man, he can sink, run. Right now, he’s been playing great football, great football.”
Johnson said his strong play is due to a change in his overall mindset during the game.
“I got mad within myself,” Johnson said. “Like I say, I knew what I was capable of, and I just really, really, really wanted to put it on display. And I just did whatever I could to focus even more and got to keep focusing and keep going.”
The bulk of South Carolina’s offensive output came against inexperienced A&M players in the fourth quarter.
Junior safety Demani Richardson said this is a valuable experience for the younger players who could potentially be in starting positions in the future.
“The reps are really important,” Richardson said. “Coach [Fisher] says, they’re one step away from playing. [If] one of the [starters] went down, they’re next up. They just have to lock in and focus more so they can be ready when the time comes.”
A&M will not play another game until it faces off against No. 18 Auburn on Nov. 6 at Kyle Field, returning after its first and only bye week of the season.
Fisher said it is important for the defense and rest of the team to not treat next week as a bye week, but as an opportunity to improve.
“We ain’t going to change,” Fisher said. “We’ll get Monday off; we’ll practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday very hard and get back to fundamentals. They’ll be physical, hard, tough practices. We’ve got to get better, the young players [have to get] better, and then we’ll work on the game plan stuff for the last four teams.”

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