Mountaineers prepare for showdown with No. 6 Texas A&M

The+App+State+cheer+team+runs+the+App+State+flags+across+the+end+zones+after+sophomore+wide+receiver+Christian+Horn%E2%80%99s+touchdown+in+the+fourth+quarter+Sept.+3%2C+2022.

Hiatt Ellis

The App State cheer team runs the App State flags across the end zones after sophomore wide receiver Christian Horn’s touchdown in the fourth quarter Sept. 3, 2022.

Ethan Smith, Reporter

App State football travels to College Station, Texas for a matchup with No. 6 Texas A&M Saturday afternoon.

“Our kids are looking forward to it and we’re excited for this opportunity,” head coach Shawn Clark said. 

The Black and Gold come off a heartbreaking defeat at home against North Carolina. The Mountaineer defense gave up 63 points and 567 yards of total offense, in addition to a touchdown on a failed onside kick attempt. On the other side of the ball, the offense produced 649 yards of offense, including 361 passing yards from redshirt senior quarterback Chase Brice.

“Tough loss in an outstanding football game here at The Rock Saturday,” Clark said. 

Texas A&M defeated Sam Houston State 31-0 in its opener. The Aggies are hoping to contend for both a conference title and a College Football Playoff berth in a loaded SEC. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has posted a top 10 recruiting class in each of the last four classes, including the top class in 2022 per 247 Sports

“They recruit at the highest level in college sports and Coach Fisher has done an outstanding job for the last three or four years he’s been there,” Clark said. 

Texas A&M’s offense is headlined by pre-season SEC third team wide receiver Ainias Smith and pre-season SEC second team running back Devon Achane. Smith accounted for two touchdowns and 167 receiving yards in the opening win, and Achane had a touchdown and 42 rushing yards. Quarterback Haynes King won the starting job in camp and threw for three touchdowns against Sam Houston State.

The Aggie defense looks to be one of the best in the country this season and is led by pre-season SEC second team defensive back Antonio Johnson and third team defensive linemen McKinnley Jackson. They have playmakers scattered throughout their defense in linebackers Edgerrin Cooper and Andre White Jr. as well as defensive backs Jaylon Jones and Myles Jones. They held Sam Houston State to 107 total yards of offense.

“Schematically, they give you a lot of tough situations on both offense and defense, and we have our work cut out for us,” Clark said.

For the Mountaineers to succeed in Saturday’s contest, the defense can’t give up a massive amount of yards and points. They need to limit big plays and attempt to contain Smith and Achane. The offense must run the football effectively and Brice will have to make plays. 

The game starts at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 10 and can be watched live on ESPN2.