The South Carolina Gamecocks are looking to beat the Texas A&M Aggies for the first time in program history under the lights of Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night.
The Gamecocks are coming off a bye week following a 52-24 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. The team is looking to improve on both sides of the ball in preparation for the No. 7 Aggies this weekend.
Head coach Will Muschamp said in a Tuesday press conference the team has seen improvement on offense with protecting the quarterback and the timing of passes. Graduate transfer quarterback Collin Hill was sacked five times with one interception against LSU and has been sacked 16 times this season.
“We’ve got to minimize negative plays, and I think about me personally, knowing when to just throw the ball away, you know, you always want to make a play,” Hill said during a press conference Wednesday. “You can’t take sacks, whether it's just throwing it away or trying to get up and get what you can."
Hill will be the starting quarterback this week despite rumors of freshman quarterback Luke Doty getting an opportunity to start. Muschamp said Tuesday he believes Hill gives the Gamecocks the best chance at winning.
The team continued to emphasize finding new ways to run the football and improve the run game in order to prevent the offense from becoming "one-dimensional" against the Aggies, Muschamp said.
Muschamp said he's been pleased with improvements the defense has made limiting the run and stopping big plays.
“We took that as a challenge,” sophomore defensive lineman Zacch Pickens said. “We must stop the run, and it starts with us.”
South Carolina has seen improvements from freshman defensive tackle Jordan Burch, who Muschamp said has improved steadily throughout the season with rushing the passer and making plays on the ball.
Freshman defensive tackle Alex Huntley is also expected to play for the first time Saturday after suffering an ankle injury before the season began.
“A guy that continues to make some strides is now healthy off the ankle,” Muschamp said of Huntley. “I thought he did some really good things in the open date and obviously, again on Sunday night and last night, in both of those practice[s].”
Huntley and Burch will be matched up against Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, who has only been sacked two times this season. Muschamp said in his Tuesday press conference that Mond's experience throwing and running the football as a fourth-year starter might present problems for the defense.
“We’ll find out on Saturday night how many strides we made,” Muschamp said. “That’s the bottom line as it comes down to game day and how you play on game day.”
The Gamecocks will kick off against the Aggies at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.