Jimbo Fisher was asked point blank Monday on if was interested in the LSU job. The Texas A&M coach chuckled before reassuring the Aggie fan base his status with the program.
"I love being here," Fisher said. "This is the job I wanted, I got a great contract, I have an unbelievable chancellor, unbelievable president (Katherine Banks), unbelievable AD (Ross Bjork). We're building something."
Naturally, there were follow-up questions due to Fisher's long-standing relationship with LSU athletic director Scott Woodward. The two worked together at LSU back in the early 2000s. It was Woodward, while serving as A&M's AD, that brought Fisher from Florida State to College Station.
“I am at A&M,” Fisher said. “Now that’s the end of it.”
Message loud and clear, Coach. On to South Carolina.
A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) has found a new wave of consistency following its two-game skid to begin conference play. The Aggies legged out a 35-14 win at Missouri, with running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane providing the legwork.
Mizzou entered Saturday as the FBS's worst run defense. The Gamecocks (4-3, 1-3 SEC) are only slightly better in that category, allowing an average 151.3 yards per game on the ground.
Fisher isn't looking at the stat line. He looks at the final score. South Carolina is coming off its first conference victory of the season against Vanderbilt in a Saturday thriller. He expects the same when the Gamecocks arrive at Kyle Field.
"All games are trap games," Fisher said. "You’ve got to understand the importance of your opponents [being] faceless, no matter when you play them. And I think that’s when you start to become a program, that your practices don’t reflect who you play, it reflects how you play.”
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In a game that shouldn't have been close, the Gamecocks found a way to fight back. Vanderbilt, the SEC's bottom-dweller, held a 20-14 lead with 1:38 remaining.
The Gamecocks called on Zeb Noland to close out the game following an injury to starting quarterback Luke Doty. The former graduate assistant was brilliant on the final drive, going 5 of 8 for 75 yards, including a game-winning 9-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Legette.
South Carolina coach Shane Beamer named Noland the starter for Saturday's game while announcing Doty would miss the remainder of the season. Fisher is aware of Noland's background, having spent time with both Iowa State and North Dakota State.
"The maturity and experience of not getting affected by things, and understanding how to approach it and how to prepare," Fisher said of Noland. "He came off the bench and led them to a victory."
A&M is surging at the right time. A win over South Carolina would have the Aggies entering the bye week at 6-2. Following their return, they could be facing potentially two more ranked opponents in Ole Miss and Auburn.
Much like he knew the LSU question was coming, Fisher is well aware of upcoming traps. South Carolina could very well be one. With a week of relaxation approaching, the Aggies can't afford to let up.
"There's nothing to really prove," defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal said. "It's just continuing to work on the little things."
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