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Texas A&M Football

Aggies tasked with conquering drought in Death Valley vs. No. 14 LSU

November 24, 2023
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BATON ROUGE, La. — Some obstacles pose greater challenges than others.

Texas A&M may be facing the Everest of college football challenges on Saturday.

The Aggies (7-4, 4-3) aim to end a nine-game losing streak in true road games at No. 14 LSU (8-3, 5-2) in a stadium known as “Death Valley” where they have not won since 1994.

The Southeastern Conference clash kicks off at 11 a.m. on ESPN.

“Death Valley is definitely one of those places where you have to come and play, basically, a perfect game in order to win,” A&M star senior receiver Ainias Smith said. “That place is always rocking. The fans don’t like you. The players always play hard in their home stadium. It’s definitely a place that’s a little tougher, for sure.”

The Aggies’ challenge is tougher still. They must win at Death Valley.

They have an interim coach in his second game at the helm. They have a third-string quarterback making his third start. They’re facing the leading Heisman Trophy candidate.

Though A&M’s situation may seem dire, encouragement can be gleaned from last year’s matchup when the Aggies upset No. 5 LSU, 38-23.

“We definitely feel like we can use some of the same plays as last year. Some of the same schemes and whatnot,” Smith said, who was injured and did not play in the upset last year. “Really, we kind of have a new staff, almost, on the offensive side. So, I guess you could say we’re coming in with a new game plan. But the confidence is there, for sure.”

“We definitely feel like we can use some of the same plays as last year. Some of the same schemes and whatnot. Really, we kind of have a new staff, almost, on the offensive side. So, I guess you could say we’re coming in with a new game plan. But the confidence is there, for sure.”
- A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith

The new staff Smith referenced is interim head coach Elijah Robinson, who has taken over for ousted Jimbo Fisher, and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino.

Their quest is to devise schemes for third-string quarterback Jaylen Henderson to continue to flourish. Henderson has passed for 410 yards and four touchdowns while leading the Aggies to victories in two starts against Mississippi State and Abilene Christian.

A&M, which has scored at least 30 points in its last four games, aims to exploit LSU’s vulnerable defense. The Tigers are ranked 13th in the SEC in total defense. They’ve allowed more than 30 points in six games this season.

Scoring on LSU doesn’t seem to be a major problem. Outscoring the Tigers is another matter.

LSU averages 46.8 points to lead the nation in scoring. The Tigers are fueled by dynamic quarterback Jayden Daniels, who is arguably the Heisman Trophy favorite.

Daniels leads the nation in total offense and touchdown passes with 36. He has passed for 3,577 yards and rushed for 1,014.

“He’s a problem,” Robinson said. “He’s a true weapon. We have to be on top of our game to give ourselves a chance.

“He’s not up for the Heisman for no reason. He makes great decisions. He protects the football. He’s a challenge.”

Daniels also has explosive receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas, both have more than 1,000 receiving yards.

But A&M has the nation’s No. 8 ranked defense, which has produced 40 quarterback sacks. That’s tied for the third-highest sack total in the country.

A&M seemed to face an even greater challenge a year ago. The Aggies only had four wins, while LSU had won the SEC West division and maintained hopes of getting into the College Football Playoff.

That week, A&M receiver Jalen Preston said the Aggies intended to “piss in their Cheerios.”

There is no similar metaphor this time. The Aggies’ motivation is based on affiliation, not urination.

“(It’s) just the brotherhood,” Smith said. “That’s what Coach E has been preaching to us. It really gave us reason to continue to fight this year, finish this season strong and continue to play for each other. We love each other, and we’re going to fight for each other.”

Discussion from...

Aggies tasked with conquering drought in Death Valley vs. No. 14 LSU

3,786 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by DGrimesAg92
Detmersdislocatedshoulder
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getting off to a good start will be huge in this game.

there isn't a huge gap in talent, outside of quarterback. if we can gain just a little confidence and for gods sake not give up a non offensive touchdown who knows what could happen.

not predicting anything but sometimes when you have literally nothing to lose you play loose and play well.
DGrimesAg92
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