Texas A&M football: Mike Elko, Kellen Mond will be tested by South Carolina

(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Texas A&M football heads to Columbia for a matchup with South Carolina this weekend, and the passing game will be crucial on both sides.

Jimbo Fisher and his Texas A&M football team will head into Columbia, South Carolina in search of Fisher’s first road win on the season. A big factor on whether or not that happens lies within the passing game on all fronts.

Injury report for South Carolina. light. More

The Aggies have struggled defending the pass this season. They gave way too many big plays over their first four games, and Tua Tagovailoa made lunch meat out of the A&M secondary for 2.5 quarters. Clemson’s Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence combined for four passing plays of 40 yards or more. Even Northwestern State got loose for a 71-yard score, UL-Monroe had three pass plays that went more than 30 yards, and Arkansas’ anemic offense had three pass plays that went for more than 24 yards.

To say the Aggies have struggled in this regard is an understatement. They rank No. 96 in pass yards allowed.

Mike Elko, brought in to give the Aggie defense a fresh look, has done wonders for the rush defense which is now a Top 5 unit. However, that’s not South Carolina’s strength. They move the ball through the air.

More from Football

Part of the problem has been the Aggie pass rush took several weeks to find its footing. They have 11 sacks in the last two games combined while only allowing 31 points. However, Arkansas and Kentucky are hardly the passing attack the Gamecocks are. Arkansas is No. 88 and Kentucky is No. 121 in passing offense, while SC is a respectable No. 47.

Quarterback Jake Bentley has a ton of weapons to work with, not the least of them is All-SEC wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Aside from having maybe the coolest name in college football, Samuel has 294 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. Running mate Bryan Edwards has 309 yards and five touchdowns. They form one of the best 1-2 punches in the SEC.

Meanwhile, Fisher gets to test his No. 33-ranked passing offense against South Carolina’s elite pass defense. The Gamecocks are No. 12 in passing yards allowed and have only allowed three touchdowns through the air in five games.

The Aggies will most likely be able to move the ball on the ground against SC’s putrid rush defense, but in order to consistently put up points, and potentially keep up with the Gamecocks scoring on the Aggies, Mond will have to be efficient on third down and in the red zone. He struggled in this regard in each of their last three games.

Next. 5 reasons Aggies will win at South Carolina. dark

A lot is riding on the passing game for both squads. Hopefully Texas A&M exercises some demons and can come away victorious.

Jeff Shull is the Site Expert for the Gig Em Gazette on FanSided. Follow him on Twitter, and be sure to follow the Gig Em Gazette on Facebook and Twitter.