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Trench War/Fare: Week 8

Come for the line talk, stay for the food

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The bye week has come and gone and the Aggies have their huge cross-divisional SEC Rivalry match-up with South Carolina ahead of them. In all seriousness, this is a big game for the Aggies and it will likely set the tone for Texas A&M moving forward. I’ll start by talking about what I’ve seen on the film from the Gamecocks Defensive Line so far this season and what the Texas A&M offensive line needs to watch out for.

NCAA Football: South Carolina State at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line

The good news for the Texas A&M offensive line this week is I haven’t seen a whole lot of twisting and stunting up front from the South Carolina Gamecocks defensive line. USC will send blitzes on occasion but the communication woes that Texas A&M’s front five have experienced won’t be compounded by movement. With that being said, the front four of the Gamecocks is experienced and capable of winning one-on-ones. Pass pro was a very important piece of bye week practice for the Aggies and we will see if progress has been made there. Unfortunately, with injuries and players dinged up on the OL, those continuity issues will be a problem once more. Haynes King is expected to be the starter but no matter who ends up taking snaps, it will be a struggle to keep them upright.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

As has been the case all season, Texas A&M will hope to establish the run. South Carolina sits in the bottom half of the conference with 174 yards allowed per game on the ground. Senior Zacch Pickens and Junior Tonka Hemingway (All-SEC caliber name) make up the heart of this defensive line but SEC opponents have been able to generate push up front. Personally, I’d prefer to see Texas A&M attack the interior with power before bouncing Achane to the outside in order to take advantage of this weakness in the Gamecock defense. Regardless, due to the struggles A&M has faced in the trenches offensively - I wouldn’t hold my breath for this to be the breakout game for the Texas A&M offense. Once more, the Aggies will look to the defense to win them this contest.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

Going through the film on this South Carolina team, one thing I noticed was their ability to send out multiple personnel groupings. For example, against Arkansas where the Gamecocks trailed most of the contest, I saw a lot of 10 (one back, zero tight ends) and 11 (one back and one tight end) personnel. Against Kentucky, the Gamecocks were able to jump out to an early lead and there was a lot of 12 and 22 personnel. The South Carolina offense isn’t dissimilar from Texas A&M this season in that they want to establish the run with a talented back in Marshawn Lloyd. Tight end Dalton Stogner was on the field nearly every snap last time we saw the Gamecocks in action against Kentucky and is used as both a run blocker and a pass catcher. The Gamecocks also trotted out back-up guard Wyatt Campbell as a tight end in certain situations with grad transfer Nate Adkins occasionally as an H-Back or a fullback in that contest. This leads me to believe that we’ll see another run-based attack when the Aggies travel to Columbia, SC.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The return of McKinnley Jackson was a big boost for Texas A&M against Alabama and he will be needed against South Carolina as well. Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler is the quarterback for the Gamecocks and while he has a lot of talent in his arm, he is also prone to turnovers. The key to this game will be slowing down the rushing attack in the early downs and getting to Spencer Rattler in obvious passing situations. Hopefully the Aggies are coming out of the bye week with enough depth on the interior of the defensive line to stay in a four-man front. The x-factor in this one could be special teams. The Gamecocks blocked a punt last week against Kentucky and special teams are something Head Coach Shane Beamer places a premium on.


PB&J Wings from Feges BBQ
Jay Arnold - Good Bull Hunting

I thought about opting for a South Carolina classic like pork hash and rice (Goldee’s does a fantastic version with their Kennedale Stew) but with South Carolina’s mascot being the Gamecocks, I decided to opt for chicken instead and what piece of chicken goes better with football than wings? For this week’s fare of choice, we head to Feges BBQ once more for their electric wings - particularly the PB&J sauce version which tops the list of wing offerings anywhere in the state. These beauties are savory, sweet, and smoky in turns and may just call to mind your childhood. If you aren’t making the trip over to Columbia, SC for the game, consider popping in for some delicious wings at Feges BBQ to get ready to take on the Gamecocks.

What’s on your menu when the Aggies take on South Carolina?