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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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Spencer Rattler’s biggest nightmare: A&M’s front seven led by Edgerrin Cooper

Junior+LB+Edgerrin+Cooper+%2845%29+celebrates+after+a+defensive+stop+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+football+game+against+Alabama+at+Kyle+Field+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+7%2C+2023.+%28Chris+Swann%2FThe+Battalion%29
Chris Swann/The Battalion

Junior LB Edgerrin Cooper (45) celebrates after a defensive stop during Texas A&M’s football game against Alabama at Kyle Field on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

On Halloweekend, South Carolina’s biggest scare was A&M junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and the defensive line.
One of the best linebackers in the country according to Pro Football Focus, Cooper solidified it with another great game against the Gamecocks.

In just the first half, Cooper amassed five solo tackles, one pass defended and two quarterback hurries. The other front seven, with the likes of junior defensive lineman Fadil Diggs and freshman linebacker Taurean York, combined with sophomore defensive back Bryce Anderson to make life difficult for senior South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler.
In the second quarter alone, the defense swarmed Rattler, forcing three intentional grounding penalties. The penalties gave the Aggies great field position and the Maroon and White took advantage of it, scoring on all three drives following the Rattler mishaps.
Cooper and the defense kept it up in the second half, keeping the Gamecocks at bay especially in the fourth quarter. Rattler coughed up a fumble that led to a loss of downs and Cooper forced another one that was recovered by A&M senior defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson.
Cooper’s dominant performance and play didn’t go unnoticed with coach Jimbo Fisher and graduate wide receiver Ainias Smith praising him.
Fisher said that Cooper was electrifying, doing it all for the Aggies.
“[Cooper] was playing tremendous football,” Fisher said. “His eyes, where he’s at, the big fumble at the end, sack and playing special teams, he’s like an eraser. Erasers have great athleticism and can close spaces and make plays, game-changing plays and [Cooper’s] been able to do that. Whether it’s tackling, stripping, [he’s] just playing really great football.”
Smith said that he’s always watching defense play, especially watching out for Cooper to make a play.
“Right after the game, I told him that he was cold,” Smith said. “I definitely watch him and I’m always up in tune to the defense. Coop[er] is definitely a dog, and I’m very happy with the way he played today.”
Overall, the defense led by Cooper limited Rattler and the Gamecocks to just 17 points and a hair over 200 yards of total offense (209). Anderson finished with a team-high two sacks and 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and Cooper poured it on with a sack, two TFLs and tied Anderson with seven total tackles.
The strong defensive showing gave the offense great field position and seemed to rejuvenate the play-calling. In 4th-and-short situations, Fisher took a page out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense with the “Tush-Push”, converting with sophomore quarterback Max Johnson twice.
Fisher kept up the aggressive play-calling, calling timeouts as A&M got the ball back with less than two minutes to go in the first half. Rather than kneeling it down and letting the clock run out as he had against Tennessee, he decided to give the offense a shot, much to the delight of Aggie fans and it paid off. In a quick one-strike play, Johnson found Smith to put the Aggies up 21-7 before halftime.
Though it was against a struggling South Carolina squad, it was a much-needed win, especially coming off a bye week and back-to-back losses. If the defense keeps getting stops and gets the offense to great field position, A&M has a chance to close out the season strong.

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