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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Back in the Saddle

Photo by Kyle Heise

Junior DL Fadil Diggs (10) and junior LB Edgerrin Cooper (45) celebrate after making a sack during the Southwest Classic against Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

In the 10th installment of the battle for the Bonham Trophy, Texas A&M football looks to right the ship against a struggling South Carolina in the Aggie’s third home 11 a.m. start.
“This is obviously our last road game coming up,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. “This is another rocking environment that we’re going to go to, but it’s one of the great venues in college football.”
After a disappointing two-week stretch for Aggie fans, the Maroon and White had a much-needed bye week after a road loss to Tennessee in which multiple key pieces on the defense suffered injury, including junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and sophomore defensive lineman Walter Nolen.
“Most guys healed up,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “The week was really good for us. Guys needed a couple of days off here and there, so I think for the most part, we should be really healthy.”
For the Gamecocks, they have fallen to an underwhelming 2-5 record so far this season after being picked to finish third in the SEC in the preseason.
“South Carolina’s a very good football team,” Fisher said. “They’ve stumbled here as of late, but they’ve lost some heartbreakers, a couple tight ones.”
In the offseason, the Gamecocks brought in Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator to replace Marcus Satterfield, who left South Carolina for Nebraska. Loggains previously served as the tight end’s coach at Arkansas.
Led by former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Spencer Rattler, the South Carolina offense has been feast on famine through the air. The Phoenix native is tied for 18th in the country in passing yards, and the Gamecocks are 16th in passing offense.
“The quarterback’s a really good player,” Fisher said. “Spencer’s a heck of an athlete. He can run it, can throw it, can spin it. He’s got experience, he understands how to play.”
Despite the passing proficiency, the Gamecocks have struggled to protect their quarterback, tied for 125th in the country in sacks and tackles for losses allowed, just five spots ahead of the last team. Compounding the problem is South Carolina’s inability to run the ball, coming in tied for 121st in the country in rushing offense, pushing its total offense to a middling No. 71 ranking.
“We’ve given up too many [sacks] in SEC games,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. “But then you see some of the other teams around us that have given up a lot of sacks as well. I wish I had a great answer.”
Defensively, the Gamecocks struggle, coming in No. 127 in passing yards allowed. In its last four games, South Carolina is giving up 338.5 passing yards and an average 36.5 points per game. On the ground, the Gamecocks are a mediocre 64th in run defense and are No. 91 in team sacks.
For the Aggies, this game will be decided on both sides of the ball through the air. On the defense, the Aggies’ secondary — who has struggled in games against experienced QBs like Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke — will have to have one of their best performances of the season to avoid a scare against the Gamecocks.
The Maroon and White’s offensive line, who much like South Carolina has struggled, will have to perform better than they have against Alabama and Tennessee. Sophomore Max Johnson could find ways to exploit South Carolina’s secondary if he is given time to throw, and this will be crucial for A&M’s offensive success.

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