South Carolina Football: Texas A&M Aggies preview

Shane Beamer and Jimbo Fisher will be squaring off for the third time as South Carolina football travels to Texas A&M on October 28th. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Beamer and Jimbo Fisher will be squaring off for the third time as South Carolina football travels to Texas A&M on October 28th. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /

A battered and bruised South Carolina football team will travel this Saturday to College Station, Texas for a Bonham Trophy showdown with the Texas A&M Aggies. Carolina picked up their first-ever victory over the Aggies last season at Williams-Brice Stadium, but that seems like a lifetime ago when thinking about this South Carolina football squad.

Injuries and poor play (especially on defense) have the fanbase feeling as pessimistic as they ever have during the Shane Beamer era, and the Gamecocks taking their longest road trip to play against a team that has very good line of scrimmage play only adds to the pessimism.

Jimbo Fisher is on the hot seat (isn’t he always?) in College Station, but Texas A&M is a pretty good team. A two-score loss at Miami and one-score defeats at the hands of Alabama and Tennessee have dropped the record to 4-3 for the Aggies, but A&M is among the most talented teams in all of college football.

South Carolina football hasn’t had a good offensive day against Texas A&M in a long time. Even in last year’s victory, an Xavier Legette kick return for touchdown and a Darius Rush interception return inside the 5-yard line helped make up for some offensive deficiencies. That will need to change on Saturday for USC to have a chance at competing.

Texas A&M’s greatest defensive strength is their defensive line. That likely will be a problem on Saturday as the Gamecocks haven’t been good on the offensive line in 2023. A&M is tied for 1st nationally in sacks and in total tackles for loss. The Gamecocks, on the other hand, are 125th in sacks allowed and get virtually no push in the run game.

South Carolina football fans can expect to see offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains utilize a lot of “o-line proofing” the game plan. Screens, one-step drop pass plays, and rollouts could be the primary play calls in the passing game, and the run game could rely on stretch plays or option/read plays to try to get something going on the ground.

With the Gamecocks’ top-3 receivers (Juice Wells, Xavier Legette, and Ahmarean Brown) either out or potentially out for this game, receivers like Nyck Harbor, Tyshawn Russell, and O’Mega Blake could be in for heavy workloads, and the tight end duo of Trey Knox and Josh Simon will be on the field more than ever.

The Aggies’ offense hasn’t been great this fall, and Max Johnson has been a step down from starter Conner Weigman at the quarterback position. The A&M ground game hasn’t done well this season, but, on Saturday, Bobby Petrino’s offense might not need to run the ball.

A solid offensive line should give Johnson plenty of time against a Gamecock front-7 that can’t get after the quarterback. If that theme continues, talented Aggies receivers like Ainias Smith, Evan Stewart, and Moose Muhammad will get open against the Gamecocks’ 127th-ranked pass defense.

Like last year, an underdog South Carolina victory likely will require some special teams excellence. Pete Lembo’s unit, after being the best in the nation in 2022, has not been great this season. Fans can look for the Gamecocks to try something in the game’s third phase to try to gain an advantage.

Both the Gamecocks and the Aggies need this win but for different reasons. Jimbo Fisher might not survive the weekend as the head coach in College Station if they lose to a struggling South Carolina football team. The Gamecocks, conversely, would drop to 2-6, meaning a perfect 4-0 finish would be required to reach traditional bowl eligibility.

This Saturday’s kickoff will be at 12:00 on the SECNetwork and the ESPN app.

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