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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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The ‘Cats are coming to town

Photo by CJ Smith

Sophomore DL Walter Nolen (0) lines up and gets ready for the snap during Texas A&M’s game against Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 at Kyle Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

In its final home game of the 2023 season and their first game under interim head coach Elijah Robinson, the Texas A&M defense will match up against the Abilene Christian Wildcats.
While the defense hasn’t been perfect this season, the unit has had a good campaign overall. The Aggies currently lead the SEC in sacks with 39 and are tied with Penn State for second in the country. The Maroon and White are allowing just 290.9 yards per game this year, which is good for 12th in the nation.
The front seven has been the defense’s strongest unit. Junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper, who was named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, leads the defense.
Cooper had 11 total tackles against the Bulldogs on Saturday, and is up to 70 on the year. Cooper also has seven sacks and two forced fumbles.
Sophomore defensive lineman Walter Nolen and defensive back Bryce Anderson have been crucial to this defense’s success as well.
Nolen has 32 tackles and four sacks this season, and has been a constant force in defending the run and applying pressure.
While Anderson did not play in A&M’s dominant win over Mississippi State this past weekend, he has been a key player for this defense, as he’s racked up 35 total tackles, four passes defended, an interception and a forced fumble this season.
It’s worth noting that the A&M defense has improved as the season has gone along. Since allowing 48 points against Miami in Week 2, South Carolina’s 17 points in Week 9 have been the most an unranked team has hung on the Maroon and White’s defense. In fact, the only ranked team to exceed 30 points since Week 2 was Ole Miss, when they edged out A&M in a 38-35 thriller two weeks ago.
When looking at Abilene Christian’s offense this season, the Wildcats have put together a solid
unit. The team has scored at least 30 points in six of their 10 games this year, and are averaging 27.6 points per game.
Junior quarterback Maverick McIvor has been the catalyst for Abilene Christian, posting 1,832 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, five interceptions and a rating of 132.40. Despite these numbers, Mclvor has struggled completing passes, with a mere 55.77% completion percentage with just 182 passing yards per game.
Leading the way in the receiving department for the Wildcats is junior wide receiver Blayne Taylor, who has 543 yards and seven touchdowns this season, both by far the best marks on the team.
The next closest receiver is sophomore tight end Jed Castles, who has 226 yards and three touchdowns.
Against Tarleton State, Blayne racked up 79 receiving yards and a touchdown on six receptions. While A&M could have their hands full with Taylor, the Wildcats have struggled to spread the ball around, as he is the team’s only receiver over 250 yards receiving.
On the ground, sophomore running back Jay’Veon Sunday leads the team with 590 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 108 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Right behind him is junior running back Jeremiah Dobbins with 373 rushing yards on 71 carries. Overall, the Wildcats have put an emphasis on the running game, as they average 171.80 rushing yards per game. With this in mind, the Aggies will be the Wildcats’ biggest test this season thus far, as A&M is allowing only 103 rushing yards a game.
All in all, this is a matchup that heavily favors the Maroon and White. While Abilene Christian has looked good this season on the offensive side of the ball, A&M’s defense matches up well against the Wildcats’ balanced attack.
This is the first matchup for the Wildcats this season against an SEC opponent, and the Aggies’ defense will look to make a statement in the team’s first game without Jimbo Fisher since 2017.

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