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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M fans react after The Aggies win the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 9, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Battling Bama

Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel
Texas A&M vs. Alabama 2016

Texas A&M will play its second-straight home contest Saturday as No. 1 Alabama comes to Kyle Field for a primetime evening kickoff at Kyle Field.
Both teams are fresh off SEC wins, with the Aggies (4-1, 2-0 SEC) defeating South Carolina 31-24 in a hard-fought game, while the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) dominated Ole Miss 66-3.
A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said his team will not change its demeanor simply because of the high-profile adversary.
“Our emphasis of what we’re doing here is not going to change because of the opponent,” Sumlin said at Tuesday’s press conference. “We’ve approached things like that since Week 1. We’ve got goals every week internally that we’re trying to reach and I think this team responds to that – trying to get a little bit better every week.”
Alabama poses serious threats to the Aggies both offensively and defensively. The Tide ranks first in the SEC in total offense with over 500 yards per game and also lead the conference in scoring defense, yielding a meager 8.6 points per contest so far this season.
The Crimson Tide offense, led by quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver Calvin Ridley, have yet to turn the ball over this year, and winning the turnover battle will be crucial for the Aggies if they want to knock off the nation’s top team.
“That will be huge,” defensive end Landis Durham, who leads the Aggies with 5.5 sacks, said. “We’re looking forward to changing that for them.”
Kellen Mond continues to develop as a passer for the Aggies. The freshman signal-caller completed over 70 percent of his passes against the Gamecocks last week while also rushing for a team-leading 95 yards, and he seems to look more comfortable every week in Noel Mazzone’s offensive.
The Aggies will look to maintain their effective ground game in hopes of taking pressure off Mond. The three-headed monster of Keith Ford, Trayveon Williams and Kendall Bussey has been productive all season long, and Ford plunged in for two hard-earned touchdowns against South Carolina, including the game-winner.
“We have gotten to the point of an identity on offense, and I think everybody knows what that is,” Sumlin said. “We’re going to have to continue to get better as people hone in on that identity and have some other wrinkles and things that come off of that. I think our running backs and offensive line haven’t been perfect, but they’ve played very well at times.”
The Aggies’ offensive line, which Sumlin and Mazzone rotated with regularity throughout most of the first four games, appears to be more set in stone heading into Alabama. The line will have to play well against an Alabama defensive front seven that is once again stocked with talent.
“We know every year that they’re going to have a good defensive front,” offensive lineman Erik McCoy said. “Their linebackers are fast, their D-Line is fast and they’re definitely going to be the biggest test we’ve had so far this year. But we’re up to it and we look forward to having the challenge.”
Alabama has allowed fewer than 80 rushing yards per game in 2017, but the Aggies experiencing success on the ground would go a long way toward keeping the score close and having a chance to pull off an upset late.
And while the Crimson Tide have certainly been dominant, the Aggies boast a level of talent that Alabama has not seen this season, especially considering Florida State’s Deondre Francois was injured early in the fourth quarter of the FSU-Alabama season opener.
“This is by far, I think, the strongest team that we’ve played to this point all the way around,” Tide coach Nick Saban said earlier this week. “This is certainly going to be a big challenge for us in a division game on the road.”
The Aggies and Crimson Tide will kick off at 6:15 p.m. at Kyle Field and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

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