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Texas A&M at South Carolina: 4 Storylines

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NCAA Football: East Carolina at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Fightin’ Texas Aggies are away from Kyle Field for the third straight week. Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Slay the October beast. It’s an ongoing meme in college football - Kevin Sumlin teams at A&M come flying out of the gate, enter the Top 10, and then October comes and everything goes to hell. October is when conference play ramps up, physical teams start winning out, and depth either thrives or is exposed. Today is October 1 and many eyes will be on Coach Sumlin and the Ags. Is this team as deep and physical as they’ve showcased the last couple weeks? Is there a mental toughness to this group that has been maddeningly absent in years past? Today is an opportunity for A&M to set the tone for what is setting up to be a massive month of October.
  2. TRAP! This game has all the trappings (heh) of a haunting nemesis of a trap game. The Ags are coming off a very physical, emotional win over Arkansas. Some of the top guys are nicked up or out (RSJ and Myles Garrett). South Carolina enters as double digit dogs at home playing with nothing to lose. Make no mistake - this is a game A&M should win handily, but don’t be surprised if it’s uncomfortably close at halftime. Which leads us to...
  3. STOMP ON THE THROAT. When great football teams take to the road to play an inferior opponent, they get off the plane, kick ass for 60 minutes, and go home. Quick business. Does 2016 Aggie football have the fortitude to impose its will early and often on a desperate Cock team? Or, will mental errors, turnovers, and lack of execution keep this game much closer than it needs to be? You’ll know if A&M is stomping on the throat if the running game is churning and the D is putting the Cocks into 3rd and long situations and forcing turnovers. Today might be the day the defense puts up six for themselves.
  4. Time for the talent to breakout. Specifically, keep an eye on Christian Kirk and Speedy Noil. Kirk’s numbers are there, but he’d be the first to tell you he had a poor game against Arkansas. He, Knight, and Mazzone seem to still be finding their rhythm. The best is yet to come, and this should be horrifying for SEC defensive coordinators. The same goes for Speedy Noil. We all know Trevor Knight needs to get comfortable with his mid-range throws. When healthy, Speedy is great at finding the soft spots in the opposition’s zone defenses. If Knight can confidently sit in the pocket, he’ll find the opportunities to get the ball to the oft-underused Noil.

UPDATE: Speedy didn’t even travel with the team for this game. Let’s go, Kirk.

What will you be watching? Beat the hell outta South Carolina. Gig ‘em.