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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Saban: “Texas A&M is the strongest team we’ve played to this point.”

Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban talks to media after his team played then No. 4 Texas A&M on October 22, 2016 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban made it clear how he feels about playing Texas A&M.
“Texas A&M is the strongest team that we’ve played to this point, looking at them from a holistic standpoint,” Saban told reporters Monday morning.
Saban’s statement can be seen as somewhat big as well, given the Crimson Tide played then No. 3 Florida State to begin the season.
Since defeating the Seminoles 24-7 on opening weekend in Atlanta, Alabama has been minimally challenged by its opponents. The Tide have won their four subsequent games by an average margin of 43 points, and have outscored their two SEC opponents – Vanderbilt and Ole Miss – 125-3.
Like Alabama, A&M has strung together four straight wins and continues to improve each week, especially on offense.
“They’re a very explosive offensive team,” Saban said. “They run the ball very effectively and they’ve got really good running backs.”
Junior wide receiver Christian Kirk was limited to four receptions for 13 yards and made a costly error on a muffed punt against South Carolina last Saturday, but Saban knows the versatile threat Kirk poses on the perimeter and back deep at returner.
Last season in Tuscaloosa, Kirk recorded a team-high nine receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. His freshman year against the Tide, Kirk took a 68-yard punt return to the house for a touchdown.
“Christian Kirk is maybe the most explosive player/returner/receiver/runner of anybody in our league,” Saban said. “Because of Christian Kirk being a fantastic returner, these guys are very dangerous on special teams.”
Jeremy Pruitt’s Alabama defense currently ranks sixth in the nation, allowing just 249.0 yards per game to opponents. The Tide also poses one of the deepest backfields in the country, which ranks fourth in the nation in rushing offense (315.6 yards per game).
The Aggies though, held South Carolina to a mere 23 rushing yards last weekend. A&M sacked USC quarterback Jake Bentley seven times as well, backing up a six-sack team performance the week before against Arkansas.
Leading the way was junior defensive end Landis Durham, who posted 2.0 sacks and forced a fumble. His efforts earned him SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors today.
“Defensively, they’re tough to run against. They create a lot of negative plays and they’ve got really good pass rushers,” Saban said. “John Chavis always does a good job of playing very aggressive and physical football.”
With kickoff set for 6:15 p.m., Saban also knows the type of environment his team will be going into when they walk down the Kyle Field tunnel near sunset.
“This is by far I think the strongest team we’ve played to this point all the way around,” Saban said. “It’s certainly going to be a real challenge for us and test for us being a division game on the road.”

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