Coming out of the bye week after playing competitively against Alabama on the road, Texas A&M fans hoped that the back half of the season would go better than the first half. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the story and the Aggies suffered their first loss to South Carolina in program history. Now the Aggies will attempt to bounce back against an Ole Miss team that just suffered their first loss of the season. Texas A&M has a tall task ahead of them when Lane Kiffin’s squad comes to town but let’s talk about what needs to happen in the trenches for the Aggies to come out on top.
At this stage of the season, the offensive line is what it is. The Aggies struggled even with Bryce Foster, Akinola Ogunbiyi, and Jordan Moko on the field - with those three out for the year, it seemed the like the line took a step back against South Carolina. There were eight false starts on the Aggies and the offensive line struggled once again in pass protection. If there is a silver lining its that the Texas A&M rushing attack did manage a respectable 129 yards on 28 carries even and true freshman Kam Dewberry got valuable experience.
The glimmer of hope for Texas A&M going into this contest is that this Ole Miss defense is not an overly impressive unit. I was in attendance in Baton Rouge when the LSU Tigers ran for 252 yards against a defensive line that seemed overmatched at times. Ole Miss stuck to a three-man front for most of the contest, something that could perhaps give Devon Achane a little extra running room. In particular, the Tigers seemed to have success in the run game going to the outside - a plan that should fit Achane’s gifts if A&M follows the Tigers suit. In the passing game Ole Miss will look to be aggressive with blitzers, something the Texas A&M offensive line will undoubtedly struggle with. The key to this one will be going to the run early and sticking with it, something Jimbo Fisher hasn’t shown a willingness to do so far this season. Hopefully the communication issues that lead to the false starts are lessened with this being a home contest for Texas A&M and Matthew Wykoff is able to improve on his first SEC start at center. If Texas A&M isn’t able to run the ball and set the pace, they could be in trouble as this Ole Miss offense can score in a hurry.
The bad news from last week is that Texas A&M gave up 30 points to South Carolina - the good news is that other than the last long drive of the game for the Gamecocks, Texas A&M’s defense held relatively strong. South Carolina did have 17 points after the first five minutes of the contest, but those scores came courtesy of a kickoff return for a touchdown and two turnovers that gave the Gamecocks supreme starting position. McKinnley Jackson continues to show just how much he was missed early in the season and Texas A&M was in a four-man front for a lot of the contest once more. The Aggies only allowed 18 yards rushing in the first half and they’ll need that type of performance again in College Station to slow down the Ole Miss attack.
The Texas A&M defense will need to steel themselves for a fierce challenge from the Ole Miss rushing attack. Lane Kiffin’s squad undoubtedly missed Zach Evans last week against LSU but Quinshon Judkins is a big threat and QB Jaxson Dart will run the ball a bit as well. The key to this one will be getting Ole Miss to obvious passing situations. If Evans is active that will make the task a little bit taller but either way, I think Defensive Coordinator DJ Durkin needs to stick with a four man front. The former Ole Miss DC should have some familiarity with Kiffin’s offense so he should theoretically be able to put together a solid game plan ahead of this contest. If Texas A&M and McKinnley Jackson can stuff the run up front, the next key will be to pressure Jaxson Dart. Dart is a bit of a gunslinger and makes mistakes under pressure that could see Texas A&M capitalize and make the Aggie offense’s task a little bit easier. Obviously, this is all easier said than done but if A&M is going to be competitive at home in Kyle Field it will be the defense that keeps them in it.
With Ole Miss coming to town this weekend I thought of comfort food. Though this contest is a night game, nothing screams comfort food to me quite like scratch-made biscuits. Bar-A-BBQ in Magnolia does a Brisket Biscuits and Gravy dish that I am dying to try but the beauty you see above is the sliced brisket and strawberry jelly biscuit from Briscuits in Austin, TX. Briscuits has a whole menu of delicious breakfast offerings but my personal favorite was the smoked pork belly with spiced apple and pear preserves. It will absolutely blow your mind.