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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

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Rolling into Kyle Field: A&M vs. Alabama preview

Photo by Ishika Samant

With defense on his back, junior RB Devon Achane (6) runs with the ball during a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

A battle of undefeated teams in the SEC West.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, Texas A&M will host No. 11 Alabama for the first time since upsetting the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2021. However, this season, the Aggies are off to a much better start since the last time they upset Nick Saban and company.
Both teams started similarly in terms of their wins and losses. The Aggies were defeated in Week 2 by Miami and a couple hours later, the Tide fell to Texas in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Since then, each team rattled off three straight victories, with two of those coming against division opponents.
Because of this, a matchup between two 2-0 teams in the SEC West will take place Saturday afternoon at Kyle Field, with the winner coming out as the lone undefeated team in the division.
“This is just another game for us and just a game that we’re really gonna take importance and preparation in everything that we can,” graduate A&M tight end Max Wright said. “I think that, especially this year, it’s an important game this weekend.”
The race for the SEC West title is wide open, with teams like Ole Miss and LSU already suffering a loss and other potential losses ahead on each team’s schedule. Graduate wide receiver Ainias Smith said his main worry is not about the standings.
“I’m just trying to keep my head on to what I need to do, make sure my grades are straight so that I can be able to play in the end, making sure that the team is straight, so that we have the right mindset going into each week,” Smith said. “Really just focusing on each week, not really worrying about the end result, just let’s win this weekend and continue on.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Dametrious Crownover said the standings can’t affect the way the team plays.
“I think it’s just very much [that] we all hold ourselves to a standard, and we can’t change that for anybody,” Crownover said.
A&M students have been lining up for over a week to get tickets for the Alabama game and have been rewarded with donuts being handed out by players of the team.
“It just shows the commitment that the fans have for this team,” Wright said. “It’s really encouraging for us, especially knowing these students have classes and stuff, and they’re out here sleeping in a tent and on concrete.”
“I better prepare the best I can to make the ticket they buy worth it,” Wright said.
With that many fans planning on packing the East Side of Kyle Field, there is no doubt the atmosphere will be rocking on Saturday. Alabama sophomore offensive lineman Tyler Booker said on The Next Round podcast that the Crimson Tide have a specific mindset on the road.
“Our mindset is, let’s see how fast we can empty the stadium,” Booker said.
If the Tide is to empty the stadium as quickly as they did last week against Mississippi State, then it will have to start with stopping the Aggies defense.
Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin and the A&M defense have wreaked havoc since its embarrassing performance against the Hurricanes, only allowing one touchdown in 12 quarters.
The Aggies have done so by bringing pressure to the opposing quarterbacks, accumulating 14 total sacks in their last two SEC games.
Most impressively, the Aggies limited one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, senior KJ Jefferson of Arkansas to just 132 yards through the air while holding one of the premier running backs in the league, Arkansas’ junior Raheem ‘Rocket’ Sanders to just 32 yards on the ground.
However, the defensive front seven will be tasked with facing a much tougher offensive line than the Razorbacks’, led by Booker, senior center Seth McGlaughlin and junior offensive tackle JC Latham.
The battle in the trenches will be important in deciding how much redshirt sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe and senior running back Jase McClellan can produce against the Aggies’ defense.
“Any time you play this team, it’s a battle and it’s like a true SEC battle,” Wright said. “It’s won up front, and it’s won in the trenches which I truly love.”
Milroe has struggled early and was benched for the Tide’s Week 3 matchup, but since then he has looked more in control in defeating the two SEC Mississippi schools.
A&M’s offense will also be up against the best defense they have faced all season. It will be a big task for redshirt sophomore quarterback Max Johnson, but he has proved in the last two weeks that he is more than capable in leading his team to victory.
Johnson has multiple weapons to work with in the passing game with sophomore Evan Stewart, brother and tight end Jake Johnson, as well as Smith.
For Smith, playing against Saban and the tide has a deeper meaning for him. When his brother, Maurice Smith, tried to transfer from Alabama to Georgia, the Tide made it a tough process to get his transfer waiver signed.
“I feel like this game is always more personal, everytime I play him [Saban],” Ainias said. “What happened, that’s in the past now, I’m not able to control it but every time I do look on the sideline, I do think about what happened and I definitely will be thinking about it.”
Ainias said he is very familiar with what Saban does offensively and defensively.
“I know what Nick Saban wants and we’re gonna mess that up,” Ainias said. “If them boys have momentum, we’re gonna have to take that away immediately.”
Despite Smith’s personal vendetta against the Tide, he said a lot of players in the locker room have felt a disrespected with the way the national media is portraying them compared to other teams.
“I feel like everyone in that locker room plays with a chip on their shoulder, whether they’re the starters, whether they’re the backups, whether they’re the walk-ons,” Smith said. “I feel like that’s what it’s going to take.”

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