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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Close call: A look at the Aggies’ strategy and outcome in win over Gamecocks

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Qualen Cunningham, Cullen Gillaspia and Connor Lanfear sawing varsity’s horns off after the game. 

When the Aggies went into halftime, it was uncertain if they had enough in the tank to pull off the win. They struggled to move the ball down the field and seemed as if the defense was going to spend the majority of the game trying to contain South Carolina’s passing game.
However, once back on the field for the second half, A&M turned it around and came back to defeat the Gamecocks 24-17.
The biggest aspect of the game was how the Aggies were able to run the ball down the stretch and put pressure on South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley.
In the last few weeks, the Aggies have found a lot of success when they run the ball. Saturday night, A&M rushed for 237 yards in comparison to South Carolina’s 23 yards. Its safe to say the Aggies have one of the most dynamic running back corps in the country.
In addition to that, all of the Aggies’ touchdowns came on the ground. A&M running back Keith Ford powered through to the end zone totaling two touchdowns and 71 yards. Trayveon Williams also contributed to the Aggies success, rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Ford said the biggest thing that led to the Aggie’s success was their ability to keep their composure.
“Even though we were down and facing adversity, we still fought,” Ford said. “We still had good composure. We were still positive. We weren’t going at each other. We stayed as a team and we executed. We knew if we executed we were going to get the win.”
Although it may had not have seemed like it, Mond led the Aggies in rushing. His ability to extend plays late in the game was a critical component of A&M’s victory. The more Mond plays, the better he gets, there’s no other way to put it. He is a completely different player now than when he first debuted for the Aggies. Now with four starts under his belt, Mond is starting to grow into that dual-threat that can attack on the ground and through the air — like he should.
Following the game, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said Mond’s ability to read the defensive scheme and adjust in the game was one of the challenges the Gamecocks faced on Saturday.
“A lot of those were scrambles and a lot of those were in man-to-man coverage,” Muschamp said. “We got displaced in our gaps and we had a hard time running him down. They had a couple of designed quarterback runs and they did a nice job especially with the one third down before we made a stop when there was five minutes left to go in the game. He got bounced out of the gap in that situation and give Mond credit. He made some plays when he had to.”
The Aggies found themselves trailing early in the game due to Bentley’s ability to attract A&M’s weak spots in the secondary that led to big plays. It’s no secret that the A&M secondary is one of the weaker points on the A&M team.
Once South Carolina figured out its best bet was to attack the Aggies through the air, Bentley continued to attack and ended up throwing for 256 yards while completing 17-of-30 passes. Not only that, Bentley was averaging about 15.1 yards a completion.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said the USC offense was really effective, prompting the Aggies to change their defensive approach.
“South Carolina decided that they couldn’t run it at all, so they just said we are going to throw it every snap which is not what they have been doing,” Sumlin said. “They threw it every snap and were effective doing it. We had to change some things and mix up some coverages in the second quarter after we gave up some yardage and big plays.”
But when everything looked like it was going against A&M, the defense came in and made sure it gave the offense some time and room to work with. The defense held South Carolina after Christian Kirk mishandled a punt return which he fumbled and lost in the first quarter. That defensive stand is what led to South Carolina’s kicker Parker White missing the field goal and keeping the game even at zero.
In all, the Aggies recorded seven sacks in the game, bringing their season total to 20 and ranking them No. 2 nationally in sacks. A&M offensive lineman Erik McCoy said the defense was what kept them in the game especially when trailing.
“They came out and they played awesome. In the second half, they put it on and enforced their will,” McCoy said. “Seeing them do that made us want to do the same thing. Them getting stops, after stop, after stop, makes us really want to score. They are doing their job, so we have to do ours.”
A&M needed this defensive surge to happen considering the next opponent they are set to face — Alabama, who averages over 500 yards of total offense per game.
The Aggies will be back in action Saturday, Oct. 7, as they host the No. 1 Crimson Tide at Kyle Field. Kickoff is set for 6:15 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally on ESPN.

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