After the second bye week of the season, Texas A&M is preparing to host its final home game of 2019. The Aggies will take on South Carolina on Saturday, as the Gamecocks look to rebound from a loss to Appalachian State and earn two wins to clinch bowl eligibility. Here are five things to watch for during Saturday’s matchup.
1. South Carolina Passing Attack
South Carolina’s quarterback Ryan Hilinski is a freshman, but he has already proven his ability to compete against top tier SEC talent. This season, Hilinski has completed 75 percent of his passes with no interceptions. However, his inexperience playing at the collegiate level was on display in South Carolina’s loss to Appalachian State last Saturday. Despite his personal inexperience, Hilinski has found consistency in senior receiver Bryan Edwards. Edwards has 71 receptions, 816 yards and six touchdowns. Look for these two to try and build momentum early in the matchup for the South Carolina offense.
2. South Carolina’s Defensive Line
The South Carolina defensive front seven features three stud pass rushers: defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, defensive end Aaron Sterling and linebacker D.J. Wonnum. Sterling leads the team with six sacks, and Kinlaw follows with 5.5 sacks. Wonnum has 4.5 sacks, most of which come on blitzes. Look for the South Carolina defense to have a heavy pass rush.
3. Texas A&M Rushing Attack
As the season has progressed, junior quarterback Kellen Mond has increased his contribution to A&M’s run game. Mond’s rushing total in the first four games of the season fell under 100 yards. In the last five games, Mond has had 275 rushing yards. Freshman running back Isaiah Spiller has also increased his production in the past few weeks. After the Aggies’ loss to Alabama on Oct. 12, Spiller had over 75 yards on 15 carries. In A&M’s last game against UTSA, Spiller rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns on just 20 attempts. Look for the Aggies to attempt to slow the South Carolina pass rush by running the ball early and often.
4. South Carolina Secondary
Jaycee Horn & Israel Mukuamu are two premier defensive backs for the Gamecocks. Horn leads the team with eight passes defended, along with a sack. Mukuamu has six passes defended and four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, on the season. Mukuamu was a major factor in the team’s best win of the season against currently fifth-ranked Georgia with three interceptions and the touchdown return coming in that game. Watch for both Horn and Mukuamu to make their presence felt in this ball game.
5. Jalen Wydermyer
Freshman tight end Jalen Wydermyer has also found success in recent games. To start the season, Wydermyer was just used in red zone situations with six receptions in the first four games and two of those for touchdowns. In the past four games, however, Wydermyer has doubled both his receptions and touchdowns with 13 catches and four touchdowns. Look for Wydermyer to be a force down the middle of the field and in the red zone.