No. 7 Texas A&M keeps focus on South Carolina
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has a simple piece of advice for his No. 7 Aggies ahead of their Saturday night visit to South Carolina.
“Don’t listen to the poison,” he said.
Aside from a 52-24 loss at Alabama last month, Texas A&M (4-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) has mostly avoided the poison. Three consecutive wins, coupled with a schedule in which the Aggies should be favored in the last five games, have some speculating that they could finish 9-1 and perhaps earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Asked how his team is handling that kind of discussion, Fisher used a whole lot of verbiage to say they’re crazy if they listen to anyone besides the coaching staff or teammates.
“I ask them why they are having success? Because you block out the clutter,” he said. “You play one game at a time. You live one day at a time. You do what you can today, go to bed, get up, get ready to play the game this weekend, and that process puts you in position to have success.
“Doesn’t mean you have success; you still have to go out and play. And that’s what you keep reminding them each and every day, because human nature is to have complacency. Human nature is not to grind things out.”
Human nature certainly didn’t take over last week when Texas A&M thumped Arkansas 42-31 in College Station. Quarterback Kellen Mond threw for 260 yards in an efficient 21-of-26 performance that included three touchdown passes as the Aggies took a 42-17 lead into the fourth quarter and cruised.
While A&M rolled, the Gamecocks (2-3, 2-3) sat and stewed. They last played two weeks ago, taking a 52-24 loss at LSU in their worst performance of the season. That came on the heels of a 30-22 upset win over then-No. 15 Auburn.
Basically nothing went right for South Carolina against LSU, aside from a 19-tackle performance by Ernest Jones. The defense gave up 541 total yards to an offense that bore no resemblance to the one that torched college football world a year ago with Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire leading the way.
“We didn’t get off blocks, we didn’t tackle, we didn’t play the run well at all,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “That created some things in the throwing game because we had to bring an extra guy into the box to slow the running game, and they hit some big throws on us.”
If South Carolina is to pull off an upset, it will need big games from leading rusher Kevin Harris and top receiver Shi Smith. Harris has 535 yards on the ground through five games, putting him on pace for 1,000-plus yards, impressive in a 10-game season. Smith has 36 catches for 415 yards; no other teammate has more than 14 grabs.
This will be the seventh straight year the schools have met since becoming permanent cross-divisional rivals in the SEC. The Aggies have won the first six, including a 30-6 decision last November at home.
–Field Level Media