USC Gamecocks Football

Numbers can lie: Why USC isn’t putting too much stock in Texas A&M’s 2018 stats

What’s been wrong with South Carolina’s run defense? ‘We all have to do our job’

South Carolina football linebacker Daniel Fennell talks about what the Gamecocks defense has been struggling with as of late that has allowed opponents to run the ball and what Texas A&M can do that will challenge USC.
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South Carolina football linebacker Daniel Fennell talks about what the Gamecocks defense has been struggling with as of late that has allowed opponents to run the ball and what Texas A&M can do that will challenge USC.

On offense, Texas A&M has one of the best backs in the SEC in Trayveon Williams, a hard-running junior who compares to another top tailback South Carolina has seen this year — Kentucky’s Benny Snell.

But the Aggies rank sixth in the SEC in scoring offense, at 33.3 points per game, and fifth in rushing yards per game, at 220.8

On defense, A&M has a number of talented, solid players including NFL prospects in defensive linemen Kingsley Keke and Landis Durham and defensive back Donovan Wilson.

But the Aggies rank eighth in the conference in scoring defense, at 20.2, and 11th in passing yards per game, at 244.8.

Statistics and rankings, however, don’t tell the whole story about A&M’s identity. Out of Jimbo Fisher’s first six games, two have come against College Football Playoff contenders — Clemson and Alabama.

When a third of a team’s schedule is against squads with a plethora of future NFL talent, it can skew the numbers, and South Carolina’s players stressed that they expect another difficult matchup against a top-25 opponent like the Aggies.

“They use their tight end, they like to back block, they like to have zone cuts. So we have to address that,” redshirt junior linebacker Daniel Fennell said. “We know (Williams is) a good back so we know we have to bring our best.”

In the four games not against Clemson or Alabama this year, Williams is averaging 164.5 yards per game, a number that would rank second in the country. As a team, A&M’s rushing yards per game average shoots up roughly 60 yards, from 220.8 to 281.

“(Williams is) a solid back. He’s one of those guys that can take the ball anywhere. ... I’m sure he’ll be even better this year,” junior linebacker T.J. Brunson said.

On the other side of the ball, Texas A&M’s passing numbers look much stronger with Alabama and Clemson removed, dropping from 244.8 to 189 yards per game.

In their three games against FBS teams not ranked in the top four nationally, the Aggies defense have given up just four touchdowns, including only one rushing. That trend can’t continue Saturday, the Gamecocks said.

“They have some good guys up front, they have a good line, some good linebackers,” redshirt junior running back Ty’Son Williams said. “But we’ll handle those guys, and once you get to the secondary, that’s on us.”

“They definitely got a good front. ... We definitely gotta be more efficient in the run game against A&M,” senior offensive lineman Dennis Daley said.

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