The Texas A&M Aggies return to Kyle Field to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night. The Aggies are currently on a two-game winning streak, and they look to continue their run and reach another New Year’s Six Bowl. Texas A&M is finally developing some balance of offense, but Zach Calzada will need to continue to improve for the Aggies to have a passing attack. The Gamecocks have struggled in their past games, but Texas A&M shouldn’t take them lightly. Check out the key players and matchups in this game that will determine who wins this matchup between Texas A&M and South Carolina.
Texas A&M’s Running Backs vs. South Carolina
South Carolina’s last SEC game was against the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee managed to rack up nearly 250 yards on the Gamecocks, so Texas A&M should be able to do more of the same.
Expect offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey to dial up plays for Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane in the ground game. Ainias Smith will probably play a more limited role in this game, but he and Jalen Wydermyer should come up big in the passing game.
Texas A&M’s offensive line should easily win on the line of scrimmage. Head coach Shane Beamer has South Carolina in the right direction, but the Aggies just have better talent. However, the offensive line has not been entirely dependable this season.
Regardless of the running game’s success early in the game, the Aggies should keep the ball on the ground to tire out the Gamecocks’ defense. They got away from it in their matchup against Mississippi State, and look what happened; Texas A&M can’t afford to get away from its identity on offense. The play-action game should then be extremely effective after getting the running game going.
Zeb Noland vs. Texas A&M’s Secondary
Last week, Luke Doty was the starting quarterback for South Carolina against Vanderbilt, but Noland came in for him to score the game-winning touchdown. Beamer recently announced that Noland would be the starter against Texas A&M, so the Gamecocks will have to rely on him.
South Carolina did have more than 100 rushing yards against Vanderbilt, but it shouldn’t be as easy against the Aggies. Noland will need to have a big day to beat Texas A&M on Saturday. Tight end Jaheim Bell will be Noland’s primary target, and defensive coordinator Mike Elko needs to have a game plan to limit Bell’s catches. Fortunately, Elko probably does this often with Wydermyer in practice; it’s important to neutralize South Carolina’s best player and force the Gamecocks to change their playcalling.
If Texas A&M’s defensive front can get to Noland, South Carolina will have a tough time getting down the field. While the Gamecocks can utilize quick passes if Texas A&M’s pass rush is effective, the Aggies’ cornerbacks will likely play press to limit yards after catch.
Texas A&M has changed the trajectory of its season in its past two games. This is the Aggies’ final game before the bye week, and they will need to finish strong and regroup before their big matchup against Auburn on November 6th. Still, Texas A&M shouldn’t look ahead until getting past South Carolina. The SEC’s bottom-tier teams have drastically improved this year, other than Vanderbilt, so the Aggies need to be ready in this game. Otherwise, things could quickly go south for Texas A&M.