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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Seeking revenge on Mississippi

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Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Senior defensive end Tyree Johnson recorded two sacks and a forced fumble in A&M’s 20-3 victory over the Auburn Tigers.

Texas A&M has defeated both of the state of Alabama’s SEC opponents and is now preparing to settle the score with the state of Mississippi.
On Saturday, Nov. 13, No. 11 A&M will travel to Oxford, Miss., to take on No. 12 Ole Miss with ESPN’s College GameDay in attendance. The Aggie’s last altercation with a Mississippi team resulted in a 26-22 loss to Mississippi State, and A&M looks to get revenge. The Week 11 matchup against Ole Miss will be a back-to-back top-15 battle for the Aggies.
Although the matchup was unable to happen last year due to COVID-19, the Aggies have a record of dominating the Rebels, 9-1. The Aggies’ only loss came in 2015 when A&M lost 23-3 at Ole Miss under then-A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin.
In the recent 20-3 win over Auburn, the resiliency of redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada shined through after exiting the game with a dislocated shoulder. The play-caller appeared to be in pain. However, medical staff popped his shoulder back into place, and he returned the next drive as good as new. Similarly, he suffered a knee injury against Alabama, but that did not prevent him from leading his team to a 41-38 upset.
Fans have now nicknamed Calzada the “glow stick” because he has to be “broken before he shines.” Junior offensive lineman Kenyon Green said Calzada’s toughness makes him the kind of quarterback everyone wants to play for.
“He’s putting his body on the line to win. Anybody that would do that … I’m ready to protect him,” Green said. “[It] just brings me great joy knowing I have a quarterback that loves the game like that.”
In the Aggies’ last three wins, A&M’s running backs, junior Isaiah Spiller and sophomore Devon Achane, have combined for over 200 rushing yards. In addition to A&M’s prominent run game, junior tight end Jalen Wydemeyer and junior wide receiver Ainias Smith continue to impress the stat sheets, each averaging over 10 yards per catch.
“This is a really good team we’re playing with great players, arguably the best personnel team we’ve played this year,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said. “I think this year is it. These guys have elite, elite players.”
A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko and his arsenal of athletes have propelled A&M to the No. 2 scoring defense in the country. Last week, A&M’s defense alone scored more points than Auburn and shut down junior quarterback Bo Nix.
Ole Miss has yet to face such a pressurizing defense this season, and A&M’s healthy defensive lineup will ensure the Rebels feel the fire. Sophomore linebacker Edgerrin Cooper, who heavily contributes to A&M’s lights-out defense, said Elko’s criticism elevates his level of play.
“[Elko] just keeps on top of me,” Cooper said. “He’s an honest man, [and] he’ll let you know what it is. He knows the potential I have, so he pushes me as far as I can go.”
In contrast, Ole Miss’s versatile and powerful offense may catch A&M off-guard. The Rebels average 37.8 points a game and junior quarterback Matt Corral’s arm and ability to scramble has placed him in the Heisman candidate discussion.
Senior wide receiver Dontario Drummond leads the Rebels receiving corps with 658 yards this season; however, the Rebels can do damage on the ground as well. Ole Miss has three running backs with over 400 yards, with A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher saying this sneaky element of the Rebels’ play is often overlooked.
“That’s what’s deceiving about that run game. They pound you in that run game,” Fisher said. “They’re very well-balanced, and the scheme and schematics from their coaches, they know how to call it.”
Another well-schemed plan of attack is Ole Miss’ spread-out defense, which has been known to cause confusion for inexperienced quarterbacks. The Rebels’ line and secondary is explosive when applying coverage but is just as quick to flee to a scrambling QB.
Ole Miss leads the SEC in sacks and tackles, so A&M’s offensive line will have a tough job keeping them away from Calzada. However, if Ole Miss’ pressure injures “the glow stick,” history may repeat itself and not end in Ole Miss’ favor.
The SEC West showdown will kickoff at 6:00 p.m on Saturday, Nov. 13, in Oxford, Miss.

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