COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina has seen a little of what Texas A&M can bring to Williams-Brice Stadium already this season. East Carolina brought that preview when it came to Columbia on Sept. 17, a 20-15 USC win in its lone home game this season.
The Aggies just have everything ramped up a few notches with an offense led by quarterback Trevor Knight and a group of playmaking receivers.
Senior safety Chris Moody sees a faster version of the Pirates that is going to be a stiff test, especially for the safeties.
“I feel like we see so much,” Moody said. “If you have to watch somebody, just make sure you keep your eyes on your man. … ECU was big on eye control and they played tempo. When you play tempo, you’ve gotta get your eyes right because a lot of stuff is going to come at you.”
The Pirates posted 400 yards through the air and wide receiver Zay Jones had 22 receptions for 190 yards against South Carolina. The Aggies bring a more balanced offensive test, passing for 276.5 yards per game and rushing for 269.3.
They present an attack with a lot of misdirection and quirks to get the job done, which is where the test comes for the back end of the USC defense.
“Keep your eyes on your keys, do your job,” Moody said. “Make sure you follow your keys and whatever you do, you gotta do it to the best of your abilities because they are going to come with a lot of stuff. You’ve gotta make sure you focus on it.”
Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said much of combating a high-power Texas A&M offense comes down to locking in on what actually is happening and not having focus deterred.
“You’ve gotta focus on our coaches giving us great tendencies and great tips to focus in on,” Allen-Williams said. “You’ve just gotta focus on those. If you key in on your keys, you can make the plays.”
Getting in position to make plays hasn’t been big issue for South Carolina’s defense this season. Finishing the play and making tackles in space are inconsistent areas.
Coach Will Muschamp pointed to the Texas A&M tempo being a challenge for any defense. Behind all the motions and formations, Muschamp said he sees a high level of execution
“They may disguise it by a different motion or different shift,” Muschamp said, “but their route concepts are very consistent and their run game is very consistent week to week. It’s more about the execution of what they do.”