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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Unranked Aggies shift focus to strong season finish

Texas+A%26M+Football
Photo by Photo By: Jenna Rabel
Texas A&M Football

What a difference a couple of weeks can make in college football. Looking back at Oct. 17, the then-ranked No. 9 Aggies were set to host SEC powerhouse Alabama in a game that could potentially catapult A&M into the College Football Playoff discussion. The conversation has since changed. 

As week nine of competition approaches, the now unranked Aggies (5-2, 2-2 SEC) have been removed from any championship conversation and have shifted their focus to simply finishing the season as strongly as possible. That, of course, would mean first getting back on track starting Saturday against the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks (3-4, 1-4 SEC). 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and his team have moved on from what has transpired over the course of the past two weeks and are looking forward to getting back at it this weekend. 

“[It’s an] opportunity for us to right the ship with another SEC opponent coming in here Saturday and get back on the winning side,” Sumlin said. “For us it’s a big game because it’s the next game. But it’s also a chance for us to get rolling again.”

In last year’s matchup between the Aggies and Gamecocks, Texas A&M amassed 680 yards, leading it to a dominant 52-28 victory in the first game of the season. After a hot start to their season that lasted up until their past two games, the Aggies have only managed to muster 588 total yards of offense and 26 points since week five.

A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said the offense hasn’t been in rhythm since the Mississippi State game nearly a month ago. Spavital noted there has been poor play across the board for the offense, however it all comes back to him in the end. 

“[It] begins with me,” Spavital said. “[There are a] lot of things we can get better at — have to do a better job finding easier completions for the quarterbacks. Overall [it has] been an up and down ride with this offense, [but] we know we’ll get this fixed.”

As a result of the unsatisfactory efficiency of multiple position groups, Sumlin has made the decision to open up roster spots for competition once again, namely the quarterback position. In his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Sumlin said the starter for Saturday’s game will be announced before Friday’s practice. As many had speculated, true freshman Kyler Murray was named as A&M’s starter Friday afternoon. 

One thing that has remained consistent for A&M throughout the season is the stout play of the John Chavis-led defensive unit. Myles Garrett and company will face yet another challenge Saturday as they will have to adapt to a Gamecock offense that has evolved over the past few weeks due to the change in leadership. 

With Steve Spurrier out and Shawn Elliott in as the head coach for South Carolina, Chavis said he has noticed some schematic changes that will call for preparation by A&M’s defense. 

“We’ll see a little bit more two back [formations], we may even see some option,” Chavis said. “We’ve got to prepare for it all.” 

The Aggies have their second early kickoff of the season this week, with action set to begin at 11 a.m. at Kyle Field. Unfortunately, no matter when the game takes place, it is likely that inclement weather will be a factor in the conference matchup. 

However, rain or shine, A&M will sport its specially designed ‘Aggie Nights’ uniforms that feature all black equipment. The uniforms are part of what Texas A&M Athletics calls a ‘Black Out’ for Saturday’s game. The field has been altered to match the theme and fans are encouraged to wear black in the spirit of Halloween. 

Saturday’s conference contest will broadcast nationally on SEC Network. 

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