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

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Blazers present challenges for Aggies on both offensive and defensive fronts

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Jhamon Ausbon, Trevor Wood and Jace Sternberger talk in between plays.

Texas A&M is set to take on one-loss UAB at Kyle Field on Saturday night in a late-season, non-conference matchup.
Both teams have offenses that can move the ball, as the Aggies rank fourth in the SEC in total offense and the Blazers rank third in Conference USA.
UAB clinched the C-USA West in an overtime win against Southern Mississippi last weekend and are No. 25 in the Coaches Poll, but head coach Bill Clark said he understands the challenges the team will face on Saturday night.
“I don’t know if you ever feel good about playing in front of 100,000 fans against an SEC team and all the advantages those guys have,” Clark told WNSP-FM on Wednesday. “They have great staff and players. I feel good about our team, how they are playing, how they play for each other. We’re going to compete our butts off and see what happens.”
It is unclear if UAB will be competing with their starting quarterback A.J. Erdely, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Erdely has thrown for 1,449 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He has also rushed for 305 yards and five touchdowns for UAB.
If Erdely is not able to suit up, freshman Tyler Johnston III will start his third consecutive game for the Blazers. Johnston is completing 54.7 percent of his passes and has managed 504 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
On the other side of the field, A&M quarterback Kellen Mond will be ready for action on Saturday night. He bounced back last weekend against Ole Miss, leading the Aggies to a 38-24 win, throwing for 236 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against the Rebels.
“We take it for granted because these guys are so gifted,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “But the mental disposition to compete and play at a high level and win and come back from adversity when you know yourself and you’re mad at yourself … it takes very special types of people to be able to compete like that.”
Junior running back Trayveon Williams is the conference’s leading rusher after rushing for 228 yards and a touchdown against Ole Miss, earning SEC Player of the Week honors.
“His leadership, his competitiveness, and his drive to be good and get the most out of himself that he can get — that’s all you can ask out of somebody,” Fisher said. “When they have physical abilities as he does then you start to produce the numbers.”
UAB also boasts a talented running back in Spencer Brown. The sophomore leads the team on the ground with 913 yards and poses as a threat in the end zone, totaling 14 touchdowns this season.
“[Brown] is elusive, can break tackle —there’s nothing he can’t do,” Fisher said. “He wears on you. He pounds you. He’s a heck of a player.”
Junior tight end Jace Sternberger still leads the Aggies in receiving, with 644 yards, six touchdowns and averages 16.9 yards per catch. Cameron Buckley and Quartney Davis each surpassed 400 total yards for the season in last week’s game and will look to continue their contributions on Saturday.
Sophomore Jhamon Ausbon returned last weekend, catching five passes for 66 yards against Ole Miss. Sternberger said Ausbon’s return has given a jolt to A&M’s offense.
“It was great to have Jhamon back,” Sternberger said. “He’s one of the hardest workers on the team with the passion he has for this game. Any time a person gets back in the game [it revives] the team. Everybody felt his energy out there.”
The Blazers also have an explosive player on the outside, in senior Xavier Ubosi who has averaged 28.1 yards per catch, totaling 505 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Fullback and 12th Man Cullen Gillaspia, who will be taking part in A&M’s senior night activities on Saturday, said the team understands what they are up against in this weekend’s non-conference game.
“It’s not going to be an easy game,” Gillaspia said. “It’s going to be a dog fight out there. They’ve got a good defense and they’ve got a great offense as well. It’s going to be a fun matchup. I’m excited to see what they’ve got to bring and see how they can handle Kyle Field.”

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