South Carolina is coming off a bye week. Texas A&M is coming off a week where it looked like it needed one.
When the Gamecocks and Aggies meet at noon Saturday on Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, it will be a battle of teams suddenly trying to figure out exactly what they are.
“We will see if it’s the right time (to be playing the Aggies) or not,” South Carolina interim coach Shawn Elliott said. “If we don’t go out and play well with a good gameplan and focus, it’s not going to matter. We have our work cut out for us.”
Elliott will be coaching his second game since taking over following Steve Spurrier’s resignation. The Gamecocks (3-4, 1-4 SEC) beat Vanderbilt 19-10 on Oct. 17 and then had an open date Saturday. The Aggies (5-2, 2-2) started the season 5-0, but then fell 41-23 to Alabama two weeks ago and 23-3 in a lackluster performance against Ole Miss on Saturday.
“They still have the horses they are going to run with,” Elliott said. “I am sure they are excited to get back to College Station and play their Halloween game.”
South Carolina has the nation’s sixth-toughest remaining schedule based on opponents’ combined winning percentage.
“I don’t know if it’s one of the best auditions possible, but it’s what has been laid before us,” Elliott said. “We have to do what we have to do, get some momentum and get this football program back where it needs to be. We’re going to do the best job we possibly can down the stretch.”
The Gamecocks looked at different personnel groupings during the bye week, but Elliott declined to specify what they were or which ones his staff liked.
“There are certain packages we are looking into and trying to get our better players on the field at the same time,” he said. “You will see it play out before your eyes.”
Junior quarterback Perry Orth is expected to start his third straight game. Orth is 12th in the SEC in passing with 755 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
“Perry right now is our solid starter,” Elliott said. “He played very well, we thought, against Vanderbilt. The guys believe in him because of how hard he works. We will see how it all plays out, but right now I’d say Perry is the guy.”
Freshman Lorenzo Nunez (shoulder) could be ready to play this week, Elliott said. Junior Connor Mitch still is building back weight and strength after suffering a separated shoulder against Kentucky on Sept. 12.
“I think he’s still got some time to go,” Elliott said. “He’s got a rusty throwing motion at times. We are just going to have to play it be ear. It’s a pretty serious situation that he went through.”
Gamecocks at Aggies
Who: South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) at Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2)
Where: Kyle Field in College Station, Texas
When: Noon, Saturday
TV: SEC Network
Line: Texas A&M by 14
Poll note: Texas A&M went from No. 14 in the AP Top 25 two weeks ago to being unranked with the latest poll release Sunday