No. 6 A&M rested and ready for challenge at No. 1 Alabama
Published 2:58 am, Wednesday, October 19, 2016
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Myles Garrett isn't about to tip his hand. Not with top-ranked Alabama next on the schedule.
The sixth-ranked Aggies' star defensive end said he felt much better Tuesday following Texas A&M's week off after admitting to being only 65-70 percent healthy against Tennessee. Garrett is dealing with an unspecified leg injury.
He broke into a huge smile when asked for an update.
"Well I can't let them know," he said. "I'm good enough to play well."
The Aggies (6-0) will need him and the rest of their star players to be at full strength as they put their undefeated record on the line on Saturday against the Crimson Tide (7-0), the Southeastern Conference's other unbeaten team.
Garrett and fellow defensive end Daeshon Hall have formed a dangerous combination this year with nine tackles for losses each, helping the Aggies rank third in the nation with 9.7 a game.
While Alabama was dismantling Tennessee 49-10 last week, the Aggies had time to recharge before traveling to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this week.
"It was a good situation for us ... I thought our guys were at a point where they needed it," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "It came at the right time after getting through the two weeks prior."
The Aggies got a 24-13 win at South Carolina on Oct. 1 despite playing without Garrett and three other starters. The next week, Garrett played almost exclusively on third downs when they held off a late charge by Tennessee to get a 45-38 victory in double overtime.
Texas A&M also used its break to evaluate what it's done so far and how the team can build on that success in the second half of the season.
"You spend about a day looking back and do a midseason report on where we're at, the receivers did it," receiver Christian Kirk said. "Just where we're at and what we can work on to go through this last stretch and win every game. So it was good to look back and see what we need to improve on."
Kirk leads the team with 40 receptions and his 352 yards receiving rank second for the Aggies. Kirk and Josh Reynolds, who is first on the team with 488 yards receiving, have been Trevor Knight's favorite targets with senior Ricky Seals-Jones out the last two games with an injury.
Knight has been solid in his first season at Texas A&M after joining the team as a graduate transfer from Oklahoma. He has thrown for 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He's also proven to be a threat on the ground, rushing for 502 yards with nine more scores.
It's been a nice bounce-back season for Knight, who was benched last year in favor of Baker Mayfield before leaving Oklahoma. He also spent some time last week reflecting on his first six games with the Aggies and came away with an encouraging conclusion.
"I still don't think we've played our best football on the offensive side of the ball," he said.
The defense is also looking for ways to get better after giving up some big leads before coming back to win in overtime in a couple of games this season. Despite those lapses, defensive coordinator John Chavis has been impressed with much of the work his unit has done so far.
"When you're in situations to finish a game, we've got to be able to do that," he said. "We have not done that as well as I expect and our players expect. But our players are giving great ... effort and that's a good starting place."
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org