As the dust settles on Week 9 of the college football season, the Bonham Trophy is back in College Station courtesy of Texas A&M’s (5-3, 3-2 SEC) 30-17 win over South Carolina (2-6, 1-5 SEC). Is it safe to say the Aggies are officially back?
Well, they’re back into the win column at least, thanks to a nice blend of elite defense and a relatively improved offense in Saturday’s win. But after two straight disheartening losses, A&M will gladly take a double-digit win over the Gamecocks. After all, it can serve as a precursor to the season’s much more promising finish.
As head coach Jimbo Fisher noted in his postgame presser, Texas A&M is now officially just one win away from bowl eligibility. But most importantly, a strong finish to the season would mark a paramount achievement in separating themselves from last season’s debacle.
Veteran leaders Ainias Smith and Edgerrin Cooper, as well as emerging defensive star Bryce Anderson, understand that latter goal all too well. They were here for the disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2022, and they are the ones who can ensure history ceases to repeat itself. As Smith aptly noted below, this team can still make the season “real, real special.”
Below are Smith and Cooper’s full postgame press conferences, as well as notable takeaways from their time at the podium.
Ainias Smith on his touchdown before the end of the first half
“It felt real good. The team came together and actually executed the things we have been working on.”
Ainias on how the bye week helped prepare for this win
“We did a real good job coming together during the bye week. After the two losses, we were holding each other accountable. We have grown together as a brotherhood and as an offense.”
Agent Zero enters the top 10 in all-purpose yards in Texas A&M history, and remains humble
“I’m blessed… I am at a loss for words. I have to keep going. Keep striving. It’s nice to be top 10, but I want to be #1.”
Ainias knows not scoring a touchdown in the second half illustrates growth opportunities ahead
“It’s tough not being able to get the results you want. Putting up three points instead of six does hurt… but at the same time, we have to move forward.”
Smith remains locked in on closing out the season strong
“It was huge… These four games ahead of us, we can still make this season real, real special.”
Ainias adds perspective on why this team is different from 2022
“The mindset is totally different. Last year, we allowed ourselves to take the edge off and not go as hard. We are not happy with where we are. We gotta go. We aren’t letting what happened last year happen this year.”
Ainias giving some well deserved praise to Edgerrin Cooper!
“I was telling him today. I walked up and said, ‘Bro, you are so cold.’ Coop is definitely a dog, and I am very happy with the way he played today.”
Ainias is, and forever will remain, his own biggest critic
“That’s crazy. I am playing more relentless. When it comes to the man in front of me, I am not trying to lose. I am my biggest critic.”
Edgerrin Cooper remains a true student of the game
“I got comfortable with the strategy of our game and playbook. I am able to see everything and compete.”
And of course, Cooper delivers some well-warranted praise for Ainias Smith
“He is the loudest one in the room. Everyone needs a guy like that. Everyone respects him.”
After that second half, Cooper understands they can't allow their opponents to inch back into the game
“It’s a great thing to have a win… We let (South Carolina) come back after halftime. We want to try to limit those mistakes.”
Bryce Anderson on how A&M forced three intentional groundings on Spencer Rattler
“Changing the look on the post-snap…and then really just bringing the pressure, bringing five guys, bringing six guys, really just coming after them.”
Is Anderson surprised by how well Cooper has been playing? Not at all.
“Nah, nothing at all. Coop practices hard Monday through Thursday, balls out, he goes hard every week. Everything he’s doing right now, not surprising.”