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South Carolina at Texas A&M: Opponent preview

Aggies winners of three straight after UCLA collapse.

Arkansas v Texas A&M Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Kevin Sumlin is coaching for his job in 2017. A win over South Carolina would give Sumlin’s Aggies a 2-0 start to SEC play and set them up for a make-or-break October with Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State on the schedule.

Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin. Sixth season (47-22).

Record: 3-1 (1-0).

Last Week: 50-43 OT win over Arkansas.

Offensive playmaker: Christian Kirk.

Top Defender: Armani Watts.

Weakness: Pass defense.

Holding a 44-10 lead late in the third quarter against UCLA, Texas A&M looked as if they were going to shoot up the rankings with a convincing win on the road to open the season. At the final whistle, UCLA’s Josh Rosen had thrown for 491 yards and four touchdowns to lead the 45-44 comeback win. In the collapse, the Aggies also lost their starting QB for the season when Nick Starkel suffered a broken ankle.

A week later, Kellen Mond was behind the center and A&M was tied with Nicholls in the fourth quarter. A&M managed to escape with a win and then defeated Louisiana-Lafayette before taking on Arkansas last week. In his third start, Mond looked settled in the win over Arkansas with over 300 yards through the air and four total touchdowns. The Aggies top playmaker Christian Kirk went over 100 yards receiving with two touchdown grabs to go along with a 100-yard kick-off return. Kirk scored in overtime to set DB Armani Watts sealing the win, picking off Arkansas’ Austin Allen in to wrap up victory in the Aggies’ SEC opener.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Texas A&M Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The shootout win over rival Arkansas gives the Aggies much needed momentum into the game against South Carolina. While the Aggies’ pass defense still ranks in the bottom ten of the country, they have picked-off the opposing QBs five times since Rosen torched them in the fourth quarter with Watts having three of those INTs. While the pass defense got off to a rough start, the Aggies’ run defense has been solid to start the season, currently ranking 31st in yards given up. They also have been able to get to the QB with 13 sacks on the season, good enough for 10th in the nation.

While Mond has improved of late, the Aggies still pack a punch in the ground game as they rank 15th in the country and second in the SEC with 260 yards a game on the ground. The Aggies go with three tailbacks each game and all are effective. Trayveon Williams is averaging 6.5 yards a touch with four scores and Keith Ford is averaging 5.1 yards with five touchdowns. Kendall Bussey is the final piece of the back-field, running for 6.2 yards per carry. The tailbacks, along with Christian Kirk, have allowed Mond to ease into the role the last few weeks as A&M looks to hit their stride before a brutal October schedule.