Fans at Kyle Field being heard
The atmosphere at Kyle Field for the last two games has been what some envisioned when the venue was enlarged.
The Aggies dominated the last 22 minutes against South Carolina for a 24-17 victory, wiping out a 10-point deficit. Saturday, the Aggies weren’t able to topple top-ranked Alabama, but fought back from a three-touchdown deficit in the 27-19 loss as the crowd was deafening at times.
“I can’t thank our crowd enough, it had a huge effect on the game the last couple of weeks,” said A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin on his radio show Monday night.
The 12th Man also caught the attention of Alabama coach Nick Saban.
“I think we got punched in the nose a little bit, especially when we fumbled the ball and they scored a touchdown and the crowd got into the game and they got the momentum of the game,” Saban said.
Aggie fans historically have fed off the defense.
A&M’s comeback Saturday started by causing Alabama’s first turnover in nine games. That fumble recovery led to a touchdown. The energy got highest after 12th Man Cullen Gillaspia blocked a punt for a safety.
“I’ve said before, we’ve got to give you something to be happy about and to cheer about,” Sumlin said.
A&M had seven sacks against South Carolina to rev up the crowd, which had seen many changes in recent years during the $485-million renovation of the venue which continues to get tweaked, including the sound system in the offseason.
“I know people are a little bit different about some changes that are happening, the music and things like that,” Sumlin said. “But clearly, our student section is on fire right now and everyone else in the stadium has kind of drawn off that energy. And our players feel it, particularly defensively.”
A&M’s defense, which has been a weak link for the last four seasons, had its best game of the season, considering the competition. A&M held Alabama to 355 yards. Alabama converted only 4 of 14 third downs. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts completed only 13 of 22 passes for 123 yards, getting sacked three times.
A&M has vastly improved its run defense, allowing only 118.5 yards per game to rank 28th in the country. The Aggies have 23 sacks, one behind national leader Oregon.
If the Aggies continue to play solid run defense and average four sacks a game, the defense will help keep Kyle Field rocking.
A hard rush by A&M’s Armani Watts caused Alabama punt JK Scott to shank a 19-yard punt the series before Gillaspia came up with the block, Sumlin said.
A&M’s game Saturday at Florida will be at 6 p.m. and is on ESPN2. The rest of Saturday’s schedule is South Carolina at Tennessee, 11 a.m. (ESPN); BYU at Mississippi State, 11 a.m. (SEC Network); Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network); Auburn at LSU, 2:30 p.m. (CBS); Arkansas at Alabama, 6:15 p.m. (ESPN); and Missouri at Georgia, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network).
The play-by-play announcer for A&M-Florida will be Beth Mowins. It’s believed to be the first time a female play-by-play announcer has broadcast an Aggie game, according to Brad Marquardt, A&M associate director for media relations.
Florida could be missing as many as five starters for the game and playmaker Kadarius Toney.
Florida coach Jim McElwain said Toney (shoulder) wasn’t going to practice Monday and is “highly questionable” for the Aggies. Senior safety Nick Washington re-aggravated a shoulder injury in Saturday’s 17-16 loss to LSU and won’t play against the Aggies.
Starters questionable are Tyrie Cleveland (ankle), safety Chauncey Gardner (ankle), guard Brett Heggie (concussion) and linebacker Jeremiah Moon (unspecified). McElwain said Heggie. He called the remaining players are questionable.
Alabama junior Minkah Fitzpatrick shared SEC’s defensive player of the week honors with LSU linebacker Devin White.
Fitzpatrick had five tackles and an interception. Fitzpatrick, who played cornerback and safety, had two tackles for loss and broke up a pass. He also recovered the onside kick near the end of the game, returning it 39 yards.
It’s the second time Fitzpatrick earned SEC honors after playing at Kyle Field. He had a pair of interception returns for touchdowns two years ago in a 41-23 victory and was the league’s freshman of the week. It was the first time in program history for anyone to return a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in a game.
Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson was the offensive player of the week after 28 carries for 204 yards and three scores in a 44-23 victory over Ole Miss.
Auburn’s Daniel Carlson was the special teams player of the week with three field goals and five extra points.
Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden was the freshman of the week with a 128 all-purpose yards in a 40-34 victory over Missouri.
Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn was the offensive lineman of the week. He graded 92 percent with no sacks and eight knockdowns in a 45-14 victory over Vanderbilt as Georgia rushed for 423 yards. South Carolina’s D.J. Wonnum was the defensive lineman of the week. He had four solo tackles, broke up two passes and had a quarterback pressure in a 48-22 victory over Arkansas.