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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

Battle of the maroon, Pt. 2: The Gamecocks

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

A member of Parson’s Mounted Cavalry let Cocky try on their hat.

In its second battle of the maroon this season, Texas A&M is set to take on South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Columbia, S.C. Both teams are coming off a bye week following a high-stakes game in Week 6 with the Aggies facing then-No. 1, now-No. 6 Alabama and falling just short and the Gamecocks toppling then-No. 13, now-No. 19 Kentucky. The Saturday contest will test how a bye week affects a team’s momentum heading into the back half of the season.

“You go back to fundamentals,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said about the bye week. “The reasons of the things you did wrong, the things you did right, are fundamentals. We had good, spirited practices and executed well. We need to look forward to that today. I’m anxious [to] see how we come back out there today.”

Morale for South Carolina will remain high as the town will also be hosting its State Fair; so while the stadium will be filled with maroon and white, expect a large majority to be rooting for the Gamecocks. Sitting 4-2 overall and 1-2 in conference, the Gamecocks’ only losses so far this season are to Arkansas and Georgia. 

In its match in Week 6 against Kentucky, South Carolina forced a fumble on the first play of the game, and on the very next play, scored a touchdown, a one-minute performance that set a precedent for the game. On offense, the Gamecocks had 356 total yards and redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Rattler finished with 14 completions on 19 attempts. Redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd led the charge, rushing with 22 attempts for a net of 110 yards, and junior wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr. led the receiver core with three receptions for 66 yards. 

The defense totaled 67 tackles and six sacks, and on special teams, South Carolina tallied its fifth blocked punt of the season. 

“They have experience on defense up front. [Senior defensive lineman Zacch] Pickens and [junior defensive lineman Jordan] Burch up front, plus their d-line, do a great job,” Fisher said. “Spencer Rattler’s doing a good job at quarterback. The running back, No. 1, [Lloyd], can really run the ball … Receivers are making plays. Experienced offensive line. Special teams always does a great job. They’ve blocked five punts on the year. Good returners, good kickers, those type of things. South Carolina is always a very tough place to play. Great atmosphere over there, great environment, especially being a night game.”

For the Aggies, their Week 6 performance against Alabama silenced a lot of doubts but left a lot of questions still on the table. The match saw the return of sophomore quarterback Haynes King, who finished with 25 completions on 46 attempts for 253 yards. 

However, the 54% completion rate was seemingly overlooked by the execution of the final play of the match that ultimately lost the game for the Aggies. The defense found its footing during the game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as senior defensive back Demani Richardson listed 10 solo tackles and 12 total against the Crimson Tide and A&M seemingly shut down the Alabama run game, not allowing a single rushing touchdown. 

“Going into the rest of the season, we know we’re going to see some good [running] backs,” junior defensive back Antonio Johnson said. “I know South Carolina’s got a good back in there. Ole Miss the following week has three good backs. So you know it’s a big emphasis on the defense right now to stop the run.”

Sitting 3-3 overall, the upcoming showdown against the Gamecocks will determine the momentum for the Aggies for the continuation of the season. A win would place hope in the hearts of fans and players alike for a better outcome than the 8-4 finish in the 2021 season, but a loss would seemingly imply the preseason efforts by the program would amount to little. However, South Carolina will be a force to reckon with as it will fight to add to its three-game winning streak.

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