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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) reacts in the dugout after Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Holding off an All-American defense

The+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+offensive+line+will+face+the+toughest+defensive+front+in+college+football+when+Clemson+University+travels+to+College+Station+on+Sept.+9.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

The Texas A&M offensive line will face the toughest defensive front in college football when Clemson University travels to College Station on Sept. 9.

After dominating Northwestern State 59-7 in game one, the Aggies are looking at their biggest home game of the season as No. 2 Clemson heads to College Station fresh off back-to-back playoff appearances and a national championship in 2016.
One of the key matchups of the game is the battle in the trenches between A&M’s offensive line and Clemson’s defensive line. The Tigers’ D-line is arguably one of the best groups in college football and the Aggie’s offensive line must be prepared if A&M is going to pull off the upset.
“Clemson’s D-line is really good,” senior right guard Keaton Sutherland said. “We’re excited for the opportunity and we’re going to have to play the best we can and we expect to have to do that every week, so we’re excited to see what we can do against them – bring our A game.”
After some position changes and questions, offensive line coach Jim Turner settled on sophomore Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle, sophomore Jared Hocker at left guard, junior Erik McCoy at center, Sutherland at right guard and sophomore Carson Green at right tackle. With three true sophomores starting, the A&M line is fairly young and unproven, but they’ll get their chance to change this on Saturday as they battle the veteran Clemson defensive line.
“We’re excited for what they bring,” Sutherland said. “All three [sophomores] had experience last year and getting that game experience last week and being able to work together worked out well for us.”
Game one against Northwestern State saw some positive things along with some negative things for A&M offensive line. The biggest takeaway from the blowout win was the Aggies’ ability to run the ball, as they put up over 500 rushing yards against the Demons. Running backs Trayveon Williams, Kwame Etwi, Vernon Jackson, Jashaun Corbin and others had massive holes to run through all night thanks to the O-line.
“The offensive line did great in game one,” Williams said. “Throughout the whole summer I said the offensive line had been doing a great job, they had a great camp and it showed. They had a lot of push off the ball last week and they’re ready to go out there and compete in the next one.”
The biggest negative was the O-line’s pass blocking. Starting quarterback Kellen Mond was sacked twice in the first game. The first sack came on a big third and five play that saw Demon linebacker Blake Stephenson go unblocked right up the middle to drop Mond for a nine-yard loss. The second came on a first down play in which Northwestern State sent a corner blitz that went completely unblocked, catching Mond off guard after a play action.
“We had a couple hits on the quarterback that we didn’t need to take,” Fisher said. “That’s something we have to get cleaned up There were too many hits on the quarterback and it’s not always the offensive line, you have tight ends that are blocking, running backs that are blocking and everyone else too.”
The loaded Clemson defensive line includes four starters that all have the potential to be first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. At defensive end are senior Austin Bryant and junior Clelin Ferrell. Bryant recorded the second most sacks on the team in 2017 with 8.5.
Ferrell has a similar physical stature to former A&M great Myles Garrett and tallied 9.5 sacks, giving him the team-lead and second in the ACC.
At the two defensive tackle positions are senior Christian Wilkins and junior Dexter Lawrence. Wilkins recorded 60 tackles and nine tackles for loss last year and led the team with six tackles with one sack in Clemson’s 48-7 win over Furman last Saturday. Lawrence is the biggest player on the team at 6’4” 350 lbs., clogging the middle of the line on opposing teams’ running plays.
The Tiger D-line also features a pair of five-star freshman defensive ends. Xavier Thomas, a strong side end, was the third ranked player in the class of 2018, while KJ Henry, a weak side end, was the 14th.
“[Protecting Mond] will be very imperative because all those guys up front were first and second team All-Americans last year,” Fisher said. “They’re dynamic, they can beat you with power, they can beat you with speed, experience, agility and knowledge. They’re a well-coached group and it’s going to be a great challenge.”

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