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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Five keys to defeating the Crimson Tide

Texas A&M must establish a running game

When the Aggies were at their best in the first three years of the Kevin Sumlin era, they were a team that spread it out and threw the pigskin around all year 40-plus times per game. This year’s team, though, while not short on playmakers in the receiving corps, must be able to consistently run the ball if they hope to be productive against Alabama. Running back Tra Carson has averaged 19 carries per game through the first five games, and he will ideally surpass that number to allow the offense to fire on all cylinders. In A&M’s closest game, a narrow 28-21 victory over Arkansas, the Aggies strayed away from the running game, making it a struggle to beat a now 2-4 Razorback squad that lost to Toledo. If the Aggies can control the line of scrimmage and run the ball, they will have an even better chance to capitalize on Alabama’s main defensive weakness, which leads into the second point.

Take advantage of the Crimson Tide’s porous secondary

Arguably the biggest factor that has plagued Nick Saban’s Alabama teams in recent years has been a defense that struggles to contain an up-tempo passing attack. In the Tide’s one game in which they have played a competent passing attack, they were torched by Chad Kelly and Ole Miss for 43 points and 433 yards, 341 of which were through the air. Kyle Allen, Christian Kirk and the rest of the Aggies could be in for a huge day in the yardage category, but they could also get in trouble if they become too one-dimensional.

Start quickly

A fast start for the Aggies would go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. If A&M can jump out to an early lead and allow the 12th Man to take over the game, good luck Alabama. In each of the games they dominated offensively against Alabama in 2012 and 2013, the Aggies drew first blood. However, if the Crimson Tide can build a lead like they did last year, it could potentially eradicate the positive crowd noise from the equation and the result could be similar to 2014. 

Contain Alabama running back Derrick Henry

Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin have centered the current Crimson Tide offense around running back Derrick Henry. The 240-pound bruiser is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has already scored 10 touchdowns on the ground this year. If the Aggies sell out to stop Henry, they have a chance to keep Alabama’s offense under wraps. In last week’s 27-14 victory over Arkansas, Henry was only able to amass 3.5 yards per carry, which was a big reason why the Razorbacks were able to stay in the game and make the final score, as close as it was.

Win the turnover battle

When two teams with as much talent as Texas A&M and Alabama meet, winning the turnover battle is critical. In the Crimson Tide’s loss to Ole Miss, they gave the ball away five times and the Rebels were turnover-free. Alabama also lost it to Arkansas, which is another reason why the final score was closer than expected. A&M has recorded at least one takeaway in each of its games this season, and if the Aggies can find a way to win the turnover battle on Saturday, it will go a long way to staying unbeaten and atop the SEC West standings.

Heath Clary is a business freshman and sports writer for The Battalion

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