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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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Coming home: Aggies look for first win of 2017

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Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Junior linebacker Cullen Gillaspia is full of energy as he runs out onto the field and pumps up the crowd. 

Kevin Sumlin is a perfect 16-0 in home non-conference games, and the Aggies will look to get into the win column for the first time of 2017 Saturday evening against Nicholls State.
A week after blowing a 34-point second-half lead against UCLA, A&M hosts the Colonels, who defeated McNeese State 37-35 in Week 1.
“I’m confident in how we’re going to bounce back,” Christian Kirk, junior wide receiver, said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I think the most important thing right now it putting it in the past and moving on. We’ve still got a long season ahead of us and there’s no time to dwell.”
Kirk has two milestones within reach this weekend. He needs just three receiving yards to become the seventh player in A&M history to amass 2,000 receiving yards, and he is only two catches short of becoming the fourth player in the 170-reception club.
Who will be throwing passes his way is still a mystery after it was announced that Week 1 starter Nick Starkel is out for extended time with a fractured ankle, but all signs point to Kellen Mond getting the bulk of the snaps. The freshman from IMG Academy completed only 3-of-17 passes for 27 yards against UCLA and Sumlin said senior Jake Hubenak will be available to play as well.
Safety Donovan Wilson also went down against the Bruins — Sumlin said he might not return this season — leaving a hole in the Aggie secondary that struggled late in last weekend’s loss.
“I’m going to have young guys next to me, so I’m going to have to let them know where they need to be and also help them to handle the pressure,” senior safety Armani Watts said. “Losing Donovan is big, but we have guys to step in and play — that’s part of this game.”
The Aggies are making it a point to not let criticism of Sumlin and the team negatively affect their play. Blocking out the noise from outside the program has been a constant theme in recent years, and Kirk said this year is no different.
“We’re used to it. Since I’ve been here, there’s been criticism constantly from the outside,” Kirk said. “The only thing we can control is what happens in this building, within the locker room and within this team.”
Nicholls State quarterback Chase Fourcade led the Colonels in passing and rushing against McNeese State, completing 10-of-21 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 49 yards and another touchdown.
“Offensively, they’re very, very similar to us,” Sumlin said of Nicholls State. “They have a motion, zone-read scheme. Very balanced. They’ve got a couple of good receivers outside that can really [run], their quarterback has been really, really effective.
“They’re not going to be intimidated coming in here. They’re going to come in excited, and we have to be ready to play.”
The Aggies will look to recreate their first-half dominance from the UCLA game in Saturday’s contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
“Great teams have to bounce back, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Trayveon Williams, sophomore running back, said. “We’re looking forward to where it takes us from this point.”

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