No. 17 Texas A&M is preparing for Saturday’s home game with South Carolina amid rumors involving coach Jimbo Fisher and the impending head coaching vacancy at LSU.
Coach Ed Orgeron, who led the Tigers to the 2019-20 national title, will depart after as LSU’s coach at the end of the season.
After that announcement, rumors started to swirl that Fisher could be a candidate for the job at Baton Rouge, La. Fisher tried to shut down the whispers early this week.
“I love being here. This is the job I wanted,” Fisher said. “There is nothing going on there. I love A&M, and I plan on being here and fulfilling my whole contract.”
His deal was extended before this season, adding four years through the 2031 season. The contract includes an annual salary of $9 million starting Jan. 1 and will increase to $9.15 million on Jan. 1, 2023. In each of the following years, the base salary increases by $100,000 on Jan. 1.
The Aggies (5-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) will look to build on winning their past two games when they play the Gamecocks (4-3, 1-3).
Fisher’s team has defeated then-No. 1 Alabama and Missouri in consecutive weeks after losing two straight to Arkansas and Mississippi State to start the conference schedule.
The Aggies reportedly have ignored social media during their recent success.
“(Avoiding social media) eliminates clutter,” Fisher said. “It makes a big difference, and I think it has helped us.”
The Gamecocks are coming off a 21-20 home win last week against Vanderbilt in a game that featured 24-year-old graduate assistant Zeb Noland taking over at quarterback for South Carolina.
Noland, granted sixth year of eligibility after playing at Iowa State and North Dakota State, entered for South Carolina’s final possession and led a 75-yard touchdown drive, connecting with Xavier Legette on a 9-yard scoring pass with 37 seconds left.
“It’s surreal,” Noland said. “I told you guys, I thought I’d never put on the pads again. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get this opportunity again.”
Noland, who replaced injured Luke Doty (foot) against Vanderbilt, will start for the fourth time this season when South Carolina plays Texas A&M.
“He’s been getting plenty of reps in practice,” Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer said of Noland. “We work our first and second group on offense and defense equally, so they’ve got plenty of work in practice.”
Beamer said Tuesday that Doty will undergo season-ending foot surgery.
The win over the Commodores snapped the Gamecocks’ nine-game SEC losing streak.
Vanderbilt scored its first points in an SEC game this season, but the South Carolina defense forced the Commodores into two turnovers and limited them to 312 yards of total offense.
The Gamecocks finished the game with a sack fumble caused by Kingsley Enagbare and a recovery from Jabari Ellis at the Vanderbilt 4-yard line.
Texas A&M’s offensive line appears ready for the challenge presented by South Carolina. The unit has allowed only one sack in the last two games and has also opened large holes for the Aggies’ running game, which amassed 283 yards last week against Missouri.
“The O-line did a great job,” Texas A&M junior running back Isaiah Spiller said. “They were blocking. It was just reading it, you know, hitting it, so that’s what I did.”
–Field Level Media