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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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Starkville showdown

Junior+running+back+Trayveon+Williams+is+currently+11th+in+the+country+and+second+in+the+SEC+in+rushing+yards+with+798.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Junior running back Trayveon Williams is currently 11th in the country and second in the SEC in rushing yards with 798.

As a much-needed bye week has now passed for the No. 16 Texas A&M two more SEC road games await the Aggies in the coming weeks.
This week, A&M will travel to Starkville, Mississippi to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Mississippi State is coming off a road loss to No. 4 LSU last week and will look to get back on track against the Aggies this weekend.
All year, Mississippi State’s offense has been lackluster, while its defense has been stellar. The Bulldogs’ defense is fourth in the nation in scoring defense and their scoring offense is 81st. The defense has kept them in each SEC game they’ve played this year, but the offense can’t put up enough points to win, with the exception of the Bulldogs’ 23-9 win over then No. 8 Auburn.
In State’s four SEC games, the defense has allowed an average of 17 points a game and hopes to hold A&M to even less this weekend. The Bulldog defense is sixth in the country in total defense, 10th in passing yards allowed and 20th in rushing defense.
“Defensively, they’re outstanding,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They’re giving up just over 12 points a game, so they’ve been doing an outstanding job. They’re led up front by [Jeffery] Sweat and [Montez] Simmons who do a tremendous job.”
Fisher said Simmons and Sweat lead the defensive line for Mississippi State. Simmons has 36 total tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss on the year, while Sweat is leading the team with 11 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
“You get so caught up in watching them that you don’t realize how good the guys around them are,” Fisher said. “They rotate a lot of big guys that have played a lot of football in the SEC.”
Mississippi State junior linebacker Leo Lewis and sophomore linebackers Willie Gay Jr. and Erroll Thompson lead the linebacker corps. Lewis has 32 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss and Gay has 21 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Thompson has 46 tackles, three tackles for loss and one interception on the year.
In addition to their front seven, the Bulldog secondary has also been successful this year as well . Senior safeties Johnathan Abram and Mark McLaurin are first and second on the team in tackles, with 53 and 48, respectively. Sophomore cornerback Cam Dantzler leads the team with two interceptions on the year as well.
The Aggie offense started the year strong outplaying the defense in each of the first four games. However, this changed when A&M played Arkansas and the defense began to stand out. Since the Arkansas win, the defense has significantly outplayed the offense and has arguably won each of the last three SEC games for the Aggies. One thing the A&M offense has really struggled with this year is its red zone offense. The Aggies are 78th in the country in red zone efficiency, which has almost cost them some games this year. Sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond said he understands this and hopes his team can improve throughout the rest of the season.
“It just goes back to practice,” Mond said. “Those fourth quarter wins and those tight games are what we live for. Obviously, we’d like to blow teams out, but in the SEC that’s not always going to be the case. When we’re getting prepared, every single rep is like a National Championship or fourth quarter rep and [Coach Fisher] always emphasizes that every rep matters.”
The Aggies have dominated with time of possession. A&M is third in the nation in this category, ranking ahead of Navy’s triple-option offense. This has undoubtedly helped the defense as they have been on the field for significantly fewer plays than previous years. A big factor in helping the Aggies maintain possession is junior running back Trayveon Williams, who is 11th in the country in rushing yards and second in the SEC.

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  • The Texas A&M offense ranks third in the nation in time of possession but 78th in red zone efficiency.

    Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

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