#192 University of South Carolina Gamecocksvs.#191 Texas A&M University Aggies
Written by Ricky Dimon
NCAAF: Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. ET
The Line: Texas A&M Aggies -17. Total: 47.5
The Texas A&M Aggies will be aiming to remain undefeated when they visit the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Texas A&M is a perfect 4-0 following wins over UCLA, Prairie View A&M, Auburn, and Arkansas. The Gamecocks opened SEC competition with a 13-10 victory at Vanderbilt, but they have since dropped conference games to Mississippi State (27-14) and Kentucky (17-10).
The Aggies’ offense has been putting up a ton of points this season, but that fact should not overshadow a scary defense. Led by defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, the unit has not given up more than 24 points in any contest. It shut out Prairie View A&M and limited Auburn to just 16 points. Arkansas managed nothing more than one touchdown in the entire second half of this past Saturday night’s showdown and that was a relatively meaningless one with the game all but decided with 6:21 remaining. Hall had four tackles (three solo, one for loss), one sack, and one forced fumble.
Hall and Garrett are tied for the team lead in 2016 with five tackles for loss, and Garrett has three sacks. For his career, Garrett boasts whopping 27 sacks.
“I guess if you were building a Madden team and you pick defensive ends, you would want them to look like that,” Razorbacks’ tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. commented.
“[Garrett] can change the game very, very quickly,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos added. “You can never, ever take that for granted. The way you design your offense or call the game, the fact that either one of those ends can change the game at a moment’s notice, you’ve got to be (on) high awareness for them and have a plan for them.”
South Carolina has not scored more than 20 points in any outing this year, and those 20 came at the expense of East Carolina. In three SEC games (none against the upper echelon of the league), the Gamecocks have put up a grand total of 37 points.
A big problem is up front, where starting right guard Donell Stanley is likely out until late October with a high ankle sprain. Blake Camper took Stanley’s spot on the line, filling it at right tackle while D.J. Park shifted from tackle to guard. The results have not been ideal. Constantly under pressure last weekend against Kentucky, quarterback Brandon McIlwain completed only 15 of 30 passes for 177 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. The ‘Cocks finished with just 268 total yards of offense and posted a mere 10 points on the scoreboard despite not turning the ball over a single time.
“That’s part of the discussion we’re having right now,” head coach Will Muschamp said when asked if there would be upcoming changes on the offensive line. “Personnel, scheme, and different things–that’s part of the discussion. We need to improve.”
The South Carolina Gamecocks are:
This looks like a nightmare matchup for the struggling Gamecocks, whose offense has sputtered behind a makeshift line. That line will be tested to a great extent this week by what is arguably the best defensive-end duo in the entire nation. Hall and Garrett are lethal pass-rushers on a Texas A&M defense that dominated Arkansas in the second half. The under is 7-1-1 in the Aggies’ last nine overall, 6-0 in their last six on the road, 5-1 in their last six following a win, and 4-1 in their last five conference contests. It is also 15-5-1 in the Gamecocks’ last 21 overall, 8-2-1 in their last 11 at home, 5-1 in their last six following a loss, and 5-0 in their last five against the SEC. Count on this one staying under the total.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.