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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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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Young Auburn quarterback leads Tigers into Kyle Field

No. 8 Auburn is a team that is much like No. 17 Texas A&M on offense.
The Tigers have a quarterback that is efficient through the air and not afraid to take it on the run if he needs to, there are a variety of different options in the backfield for the run game, and the offensive line is no stranger to a difficult SEC slate.
For A&M’s defense, the objective this Saturday will be the same as always: stop the run and limit the passing game. But for this top-ten matchup, they’ll have the 12th Man’s support.
Auburn’s offense starts and ends with quarterback Bo Nix. The true freshman was Mr. Alabama Football a year ago and the highest-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, according to ESPN.
Nix was able to throw together a comeback win against No. 11 Oregon in week one and has continued to improve on his passing ability. Since the season opener, Nix hasn’t thrown an interception in his last two games and has increased his completion percentage from 42 percent to 75 percent.
Although Nix is still relatively new to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn’s offense, the freshman is seeing the field well and is not afraid to roll out of the pocket or step into it to make a good throw. With targets like Eli Stove and Will Hastings, Nix will only get better.
“[Nix] is an outstanding player,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He can beat you. He’s got a great arm, great legs and he’s very competitive. Hopefully we can play well against him.”
Fisher coached Nix’s father, Patrick, when he was a quarterbacks coach at Auburn from 1993-1998. The second-year head coach said that he has known Nix for a long time and recruited him prior to this year.
Nix also shares an ability to run the ball when the pocket is collapsing to get the checkdown. Other than himself, Nix has a few rushers in the backfield to share the ball with on read-option plays.
Running back JaTarvious Whitlow is the leading rusher from 2018 and is currently in that same role for Auburn this season. The redshirt sophomore is having more consistent success this season than his start last year, picking up 341 rushing yards on 64 carries, including three touchdowns.
In the game against A&M last season, Whitlow was only able to pick up 16 yards against an aggressive Aggie defensive front. With how A&M has had to reload at nearly every position and how Auburn’s offensive line is performing, that number is bound to increase.
Auburn returns all of its starters along the offensive line and currently is the 11th-best rushing offense in the country. The Tigers boast four rushers with at least 100 yards on the season so far and have been run-dominant in their first three contests. Backup quarterback Joey Gatewood has been an option on short down-and-distance plays as well as a reliable option to run it in the red zone.
“They’re definitely a [run-dominant] team,” linebacker Buddy Johnson said. “Most teams in the SEC West, they love to run. But they can throw too, so our job is to be ready and prepare for whatever they throw at us.”
The Aggies are currently 21st nationally against the run, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the defense will regress against the run. As long as nose guard Bobby Brown III and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike are able to close running lanes on the interior line, A&M will have a good shot of containing the run game.
“This game will definitely be won in the trenches,” Brown said. “Auburn has a good [offensive] line, and it would definitely test our defensive line on how well we can respond and react.”

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