The bye week may have felt like forever for some Aggie fans, as anticipation for Texas A&M’s matchup against Alabama continues to build. Coming off a shaky win against the Arkansas team, the opportunity is ripe for A&M to bounce back from offensive struggles. Here are five things to look for as the Aggies take on the Crimson Tide.
1. Kyle Field
Much has been made of the advantage Kyle Field may or may not provide to the Aggies; this is in light of ESPN’s lead broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit’s comments about A&M football’s home. Herbstreit pointed out that the Aggies haven’t necessarily won big games at Kyle Field, given their 5-11 record against ranked opponents at home since 2012. Herbstreit probably made the comments in light of A&M’s recent loss to Auburn, but the weather is finally changing here in College Station. With the temperatures falling and motivation rising, expect a huge crowd in Kyle Field Saturday afternoon.
2. Tua Tagovailoa
This is going to be Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s first visit to Kyle Field, and because he’s expected to be a high pick in the NFL Draft this coming spring, it may also be his last. Though it’s still early in the season, Tagovailoa is one of the few legitimate Heisman contenders in the country, with 1,718 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Aggies still have some hope though, as a lesser A&M team kept th eventual national champions within one score during the Tide’s 2017 visit to Kyle Field.
3. Alabama’s Defensive Front
Alabama’s defensive front features many highly touted prospects. Raekwon Davis is quite literally one of the biggest name in college football right now. At 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds, the senior defensive tackle has accumulated 25 tackles this season. Linebackers Shane Lee and Anfernee Jennings have been wreaking havoc all season for the Crimson Tide. Lee leads the defensive front with 30 tackles this season and a sack. Jennings leads the team with three sacks and 29 tackles. This is one of the tougher defensive fronts the Aggies will face this season. A motivated A&M offensive line will look to prove itself on Saturday.
4. Alabama's Receiving Corps
Alabama’s receiving corps had high expectations coming into the season, and the unit has made a case for the best in the nation in its first five games. Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III were already solid pieces of Alabama’s offense, but junior DeVonta Smith exploded onto the scene with 11 receptions, 274 receiving yards, and five touchdowns against Ole Miss two weeks ago. Tagovailoa has proven to be a capable quarterback, but its the Alabama receiving corps that lifts this team to the top.
5. A&M Linebackers
Buddy Johnson and Anthony Hines have made their presence felt this season. Johnson is proving to be the most consistent force on the A&M defensive side, leading the team with 27 tackles this season. Hines has the third most tackles on defense with 22, showing he is fully healthy after last year’s injury. Alabama may have an extremely talented receiving corps, but the running backs are a force to be reckoned with as well. Najee Harris has 337 rushing yards and three receiving touchdowns. Look for the A&M linebackers to key in on Harris and try to limit any easy throws for Tagovailoa.