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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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Kyler Field

Kyler+Murray
Photo by Photo By: Kathryn Perez
Kyler Murray

In his first collegiate start Saturday, Kyler Murray had a strong first game at the helm. The freshman helped the Aggies amass 544 yards of total offense, while he led the team in rushing with 20 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown. 

Everyone knows about his speed, but Murray was lethal through the air as well Saturday, posting 223 yards and a touchdown. He gave life to an Aggie offense that had become virtually dormant for the previous two weeks. 

Murray was just one part of what went right in the 35-28 win over South Carolina, but there were clear areas that needed improvement during the contest as well. Here’s what went right, what went wrong, and where A&M stands now in the SEC.

What went right 

The Kyler Murray experiment went quite alright, as the freshman had an outstanding day in his first start at A&M. He looked cool and collected in the pocket, and showed what kind of damage he can cause when he escapes into the open field. He was accurate, hitting on 20 of his 28 passing attempts, and most importantly, he did not turn the ball over. Murray and the offense put up 28 points themselves on Saturday, which is more than the offense had scored in the previous two weeks combined. The rush offense, which was abysmal for the previous two games, quietly put up 321 yards on the ground Saturday thanks to Murray’s scrambling combined with some hard-nosed running from Tra Carson. As Murray gains more experience, he will learn how to read defenses better, as he still struggles with that aspect of the position. But overall, his play has to give Aggie fans hope for the rest of the year, and for the few years that lie ahead. 

Another thing that went very well was the turnover battle. A&M lost their big contests to Alabama and Ole Miss, in part, because they could not protect the football. Saturday, A&M did not turn the ball over, and the defense forced two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Donovan Wilson. The defense also forced three fumbles, although they did not recover any of them. Daylon Mack made another impressive play to swallow up the South Carolina backfield, and the pass rush duo of Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall combined for three tackles for loss, two sacks and 11 total tackles. Stopping the Gamecocks on third down was a bit of an issue, but the defense showed once again that they have vastly improved. 

What went wrong

Although the defense is improved, A&M’s rush defense has consistently been its Achilles heel. South Carolina rushed for 253 yards on Saturday, and it was a big part of why they were able to hang in the game with the Aggies until the final drive. Brandon Wilds ran for 128 and quarterback Perry Orth ran for 64, but if not for being sacked four times, would have had 90 yards rushing and he ran by the Aggie defense all game. The linebackers were continuously swallowed up in the middle of the offensive line, and that allowed the Gamecock running game to advance to the secondary. Simply put, the linebackers will have to improve before A&M can be considered an elite SEC defense. They are close, but the running game is still too much of a liability for A&M right now for them to make a serious run at playoff contention. 

Where A&M stands 

A&M found itself back on the newest edition of the AP poll Sunday as the No. 25 ranked team in the nation. Now, they face Auburn at home in what should be a challenging but very winnable game. Barring epic collapses, A&M is essentially out of any playoff or SEC title contention, but there is still a chance to really shake things up for the rest of the SEC and post another 10 win season for the second time in four years. As the schedule lightens up, the Aggies should get wins in all their games before their showdown in Death Valley against LSU to end the regular season. Should they win those games, A&M would go into LSU with a 9-2 record and a chance to knock LSU out of playoff contention. There is still a lot left to play for this season. 

 

Andre Perrard is a sports management senior and sports writer for The Battalion

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