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Texas A&M Football

No. 7 Texas A&M expecting tough test from South Carolina on the road

November 6, 2020

It’s not so much the road that should concern the Aggies. It’s the hazards that have too often resulted in crashes they must beware of.

Seventh-ranked Texas A&M (4-1) aims to avoid another crash and stay on course for the College Football Playoff when they travel to face South Carolina (2-3) for a Southeastern Conference clash on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Avoiding roadblocks hasn’t been easy. Under coach Jimbo Fisher, the Aggies are 3-6 in true road games.

“You’ve got to expect hostility.You’ve got to be able to stand by yourself and stand with your brothers on the team. It becomes a mentality like that.”​​​​​​
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

But one of those road wins was a 26-23 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2018.

The Aggies would hope for an easier trip this time.

Don’t count it on, though. Fisher isn’t.

“You’ve got to expect hostility,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to stand by yourself and stand with your brothers on the team. It becomes a mentality like that.

“You’ve got to have that thick skin. There’s going to be momentum swings. You’ve got to play the next play. There is a maturity in not letting the emotions of the game and the momentum of the game get away.”

That’s the Aggies’ psychological goal. They have a longer list of physical goals.

• Exploit South Carolina’s run defense. The Gamecocks have allowed more than 200 rushing yards in each of its last two games. A&M running back Isaiah Spiller is third in the SEC with 512 rushing yards. The Aggies will hope to establish a dominant running game.

• Contain South Carolina running back Kevin Harris. Harris is second in the SEC with 585 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a concern for the A&M defense, which struggled against Arkansas’ running game last week. A&M aims to minimize Harris’ production and put South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill in obvious passing situations.

• Pressure Hill. A&M has posted 10 sacks in the last two games. South Carolina has allowed 16 sacks this season. It will be key for the Aggies to capitalize on the Gamecocks’ struggles in pass protection. South Carolina allowed at least four sacks to Tennessee, Florida and LSU. All three games were losses.

• Avoid turnovers, especially interceptions. Over the last two seasons, South Carolina is 4-0 when getting multiple interceptions. That includes a victory over Auburn this season in which the Gamecocks had three picks. However, they’re 0-6 in that span when failing to get an interception.

John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports
Mond was fantastic in last year’s 30-6 win.

That streak includes last year’s 30-6 loss to Texas A&M. Quarterback Kellen Mond passed for 221 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 47 and a score in that game.

Indeed, throughout his career, Mond has played well against South Carolina. He passed for 353 yards and one touchdown in 2018. He threw for 159 yards and rushed for 95 in a victory in 2017.

Mond is in the midst of the best year of his career. He’s passed for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 64.7 percent of his attempts.

Further, he’s thrown just two interceptions. One of those was a fluke that ricocheted off of receiver Ainias Smith against Mississippi State.

Mond has never thrown an interception against South Carolina.

Fisher doesn’t find a lot of comfort in those statistics, though. He warns that the struggling Gamecocks can change the trajectory of their season by upsetting the surging Aggies.

“You’ve got to expect the other guy’s best no matter what,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be hard.”

Road games always are.

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