USC Gamecocks Football

Scouting South Carolina’s next opponent: Texas A&M

Gamecocks and QB Michael Scarnecchia celebrate victory over Missouri

Gamecocks celebrate 35-37 victory over Missouri.
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Gamecocks celebrate 35-37 victory over Missouri.

Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1 SEC) at South Carolina (3-2, 2-2)

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Rankings: Texas A&M re-entered both the coaches poll and the AP poll at No. 22. South Carolina received votes in both.

Three storylines

Do the Gamecocks have a quarterback controversy on their hands? Junior starter Jake Bentley missed this past Saturday’s game against Missouri with a knee sprain, and senior Michael Scarnecchia excelled in his place, throwing for 249 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-35 passing, with no interceptions. Bentley, meanwhile, wasn’t excellent when he was playing — 232 yards per game with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Coach Will Muschamp hasn’t tipped his hand either way.

Was the Missouri win for real? Saturday’s victory over Mizzou was desperately needed for South Carolina’s confidence (and bowl hopes). But it came in truly bizarre fashion — last-minute field goals, drenching rain, lightning delays, lots of penalties, technical difficulties with headsets and so on. And so while the Gamecocks are obviously happy to have the win, it’s difficult to decide what lessons to take from it. Texas A&M may provide more clarity.

Texas A&M is still looking for its first road win in the Jimbo Fisher era. Not to mention, Fisher and Muschamp have history. Both are members of the Nick Saban coaching tree, and they squared off every year back when Fisher coached Florida State and Muschamp led Florida. Fisher came out ahead in those four matchups, 3-1, but Muschamp is more settled in his current job amd will have home field advantage.

Three Texas A&M players to watch

Junior running back Trayveon Williams leads the SEC in rushing yards and is second in the conference in touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound back possess both impressive speed and a tough running style that could spell trouble given how both Missouri and Kentucky were able to impose their will at times along the line of scrimmage against USC.

Junior tight end Jace Sternberger has a nose for the end zone — he has five touchdowns in six games for A&M. The 250-pounder also leads the Aggies in receiving yards and will likely be a matchup nightmare for a Gamecocks secondary that has struggled to find stability at the safety position.

Senior defensive back Donovan Wilson has already twice been ejected for targeting this season, yet he is still one of the Aggies top tacklers, has one of A&M’s two interceptions on the year and can terrorize teams behind the line of scrimmage and in the open field. Were it not for an injury last season, he would likely be in the NFL right now. As it is, he is a volatile, explosive player who could hurt Carolina, or his own team.

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