By the time Texas A&M kicks off its home slate Saturday night at newly-renovated Kyle Field, the Aggies will have had nine days worth of headlines calling them a College Football Playoff sleeper.

Few have questioned the secondary which still has issues after giving up 366 yards and four touchdowns but was overshadowed by the stellar outing from Kenny Hill on the other side of the football, an offense that ran 99 plays.

“We had some eye control problems and communication problems that have to be addressed,” defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said this week. “We’ll have continued competition back there.”

A few of the same problems that lingered throughout last season at the back end for the SEC’s worst defense were prevalent last week, including big plays over the top in man coverage.

In the 4-2-5 base, the Aggies’ front four managed consistent pressure on quarterback Dylan Thompson — which didn’t happen last season — but Texas A&M’s pass defense struggled. Snyder pushed home the point that there will be continued open competition in the secondary.

True freshman Armani Watts was the best player at the back end against the Gamecocks, recording two bone-jarring hits and the game’s only interception. As a true freshman, he showed zero nerves on the big stage and flexed a fearless pursuit of the football.

“It’s who we thought he was after watching him in camp,” Snyder said. “You never know how a young guy is going to respond in a situation like that. I gotta say coach Sumlin did a great job of getting this team ready. I was looking pre-game at the hotel and on the field. These young guys didn’t bat an eye and it was really refreshing to see.”

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Lamar, this weekend’s opponent, is nearly a six-touchdown underdog and the chances of the Aggies being motivated to dominate are slim. It’s the first of three consecutive push-over games prior to a Texas showdown with Arkansas.

Snyder says he has prepared for Saturday’s game like he would any other, working out the kinks based on last week’s film.

“We worry about us,” Snyder said. “We have to keep getting better if we want to be where we want to be. It’s not about who we’re playing, it’s about us. We try to stick with that motto.”