Texas AM at South Carolina

The Sports Xchange

October 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
TV: SEC Network
SERIES: Texas A&M leads 4-0. The Aggies won 24-17 in 2017.
RANKINGS: Texas A&M No. 22


–QB Kellen Mond was 18-of-29 passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns to go along with an interception in the Aggies’ home upset of Kentucky. Mond, who racked up 98 yards rushing against Alabama, has since combined for 29 yards rushing over his last two outings. He preached about aiming for more consistency from the offense this week.

–RB Trayveon Williams is the SEC’s all-purpose yardage leader rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while also hauling in six catches for 72 yards in Week 5. Williams even told local media that he believes himself to potentially be the best running back in the SEC after his dominant showing against Kentucky. “I proved that I’m a great back, one of the best backs — if not the best back — in the SEC,” Williams said.

–TE Jace Sternberger, a junior, leads the team in receiving yards with 22 catches for 351 yards and five touchdowns. Sternberger is coming off a five-catch, 95-yard receiving effort against Kentucky. Sternberger’s five touchdowns this season ties a school record for tight ends.

–LB Tyrel Dodson has actually tapered off this season after crossing the triple-digit threshold in tackles a season ago. Through six games, Dodson had just 26 total tackles, including two for a loss. He did register a sack against Kentucky, however, and still proves to be a viable force for the Aggies’ linebacking corps.


–WR Bryan Edwards tied a career high with two touchdown receptions in the win over Missouri. A junior, Edwards had seven receptions for 73 yards that included a 12-yard catch to put the Gamecocks in position for PK Parker White’s game-decision field goal.

–TE Kyle Markway got his first start since 2015, and he made a key play that helped the Gamecocks to the 37-35 win. His 27-yard reception moved the Gamecocks from their own 46-yard line to the Tigers’ 27. The junior from St. Louis had only one catch coming into the game for a modest 7-yard gain.

–LB Bryson Allen-Williams was in on six tackles with half of them resulting in negative yardage for the Tigers. He has eight tackles for losses for the year and will have a key role in trying to slow Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams, the SEC’s leading rusher.

–CB Rashad Fenton leads the Gamecocks in interceptions with three to go with his 13 tackles. He is coming off a three-tackle performance in the win over Missouri. He and his teammates in the secondary could be in for a busy evening against Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond and an Aggies offensive that is averaging over 270 yards a game passing.


Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher once again will be facing a former coaching colleague when his 22nd-ranked Aggies visit South Carolina in an inter-division Southeastern Conference clash Saturday.

Kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia is 3:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Fisher and Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp were together at LSU when the Tigers won the 2003 BCS national championship with Fisher serving as offensive coordinator and Muschamp the defensive coordinator under coach Nick Saban.

“Will was one of the brightest guys I’ve ever been around,” Fisher said. “We won a national championship together as coordinators, and we’re friends.

“People know we used to own a house, a beach house, together. It was a lot of things. He’s always been a great friend, a great guy.”

Muschamp also was a graduate assistant at Auburn when Fisher was on the staff there.

“He’s a great friend,” Muschamp said of Fisher. “We worked together back at Auburn in the ’90s, then obviously we were together at LSU. He’s a really good football coach, and he’s got a good football team.”

Muschamp’s Gamecocks (3-2, 2-2 SEC) are coming off an emotional, 37-35 victory over Missouri in their last outing. Fisher’s (Aggies 4-2, 2-1 SEC) went to overtime for a 20-14 win over a Kentucky team that is coached by Mark Stoops, who was Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Florida State before taking the Wildcats job.

“You know all those guys and you hate playing all your friends,” Fisher said. “You really do.”

Fisher called the win over Kentucky “another step for us in the right direction.” The Aggies more than dominated the then-13th-ranked Wildcats, holding what was then the SEC’s leading rushing team to just 70 yards on the ground and 178 in total offense.

But they failed to make the plays earlier that could have made for a more comfortable evening, failing to convert a fourth-and-1 at Kentucky’s 27-yard line in the second quarter and missing a field goal and turning the ball over twice in the second half.

With 390 yards, the Aggies more than doubled Kentucky’s output. For the season, they have averaged over 490 yards a game rushing and passing and have the league’s leading rusher in running back Trayveon Williams. Williams has averaged 120 yards a game and 6.0 per carry with seven rushing touchdowns.

“The big thing is on offense the consistency to finish drives,” Fisher said. “The way we’re moving the ball, we’ve got to finish drives and put points on the board.”

That will be the key against the Gamecocks, who have usually come out strong in the second half.

“We’re going to have to start fast and finish fast in this one,” Fisher said. “We’ll have to make our adjustments, too.

“Anytime you’re on the road it gives you confidence to get out of the blocks to play well like we did in the Arkansas game. Got a jump and got out front. But this game we’re going to have to get out in front and maintain.

“They can score points.”

The Gamecocks’ offense will present just a bit of a mystery, however. Junior Jake Bentley is expected to be back as the starter at quarterback after missing last week with a knee injury, but it isn’t certain.

Senior Mike Scarnecchia, who led the comeback win over Missouri, could start again if Bentley isn’t completely recovered.

“I’ve told both Jake and Mike that they need to be ready to go play,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got two guys we can win with, and that’s good to have.”

Scarnechia had seen little time before last week, when he passed for 249 yards. Bentley has started since his freshman year and is an accurate passer with a 64 percent completion rate this season.

“I’m making the decision that I think helps us win,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, that’s what we are going to do, but we have two guys I have confidence that we can win with. I feel comfortable with both guys.”