Beat to Beat: Vols to attempt to halt A&M

Stop listening to internet rumors. Get first-hand knowledge from Scout network beat reporters all over the country. Here's the low-down on the top 10 matchup in College Station this Saturday.

No. 9 Tennessee is up for its greatest test of the season when it makes its first-ever trip to College Station this Saturday.

The Big Orange seeks its third straight win over a ranked opponent for the first time since 1991 as the Aggies rank No. 8 nationally.

The two powers have locked up just twice in their illustrious histories with the Orange & White winning 3-0 in Jacksonville in 1957 and 31-0 in the 2005 Cotton Bowl.

Get the latest on the matchup from the Scout network's Rob Sellers as he answered questions from our staff.

InsideTennessee: How concerning are the injuries with which Texas A&M is dealing? Are there any starters that we know will not play against Tennessee or doubtful?

Robert Sellers: Kevin Sumlin seems to ramp up his personal policy of not discussing injuries each season, and each season the team is in a spot like this with multiple key injuries and not much clue as to if these players are even practicing (practices are closed to media).

All of that being said, based on the conversations I have had this week, I believe the Aggies will be near full strength for the matchup with Tennessee. Starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor has missed time as of late, starting receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil both did not travel to South Carolina and of course Myles Garrett also did not travel to South Carolina. I suspect we will see all of these guys Saturday but am continuing to work sources for better confirmation.

IT: From Christian Kirk on down, the Aggies look to have one of their better wide receiver corps ever. Where does this group rank in terms of talent with the best in program history?

Sellers: It certainly has to rank at or near the top. Texas A&M has seen its share of blue-chip receivers at times in its history but seldom had more than two together in their prime at once. Ricky Seals-Jones is playing his best football so far, Christian Kirk has shown the ability to score on any play, Josh Reynolds may quietly be the best pure pass catcher of the group and Speedy Noil is of course a weapon the staff continues to try and find ways to use more. The back-ups are a bit of a drop-off but by second-string standards are a solid unit as well.

IT: What have some teams done to slow down a defensive front that looks to have 2-3 future NFL Draft first-round picks in Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall and Dylon Mack?

Sellers: The theme I has seen most early on this season has been to run directly at the ends, as both are stronger pass rushers than run stoppers. It can be argued the level of success it has had against the Aggie defense but it seems to be the current approach to slowing them down. With an interior guy like Mack, he draws double teams or sometimes gets chipped by a back. The attention he draws of course allows others to get those one-on-one matchups and an opportunity to make plays. The often times thankless job of an interior defensive lineman.

IT: The Aggies are No. 45 nationally in run defense (134.8 yards per game). South Carolina's A.J. Turner averaged 11.3 yards per carry against Texas A&M last week. What went wrong for the Aggies?

Sellers: A lot of that big number came on the first play from scrimmage against the Aggies when Turner took a handoff 75 yards for the opening score of the game. When you take that play away, he still averaged a respectful 4.5 yards a carry but not quite as big of a number as it seems on paper. That play was definitely important and needs to be accounted for moving forward but other than that one big play they did a decent job with South Carolina’s rushing attack.

IT: Trevor Knight's skills as a runner are evident, and he's averaging 78.4 yards per game on the ground. How has Knight looked as a passer (7-3 touchdown to Interception ratio)?

Sellers: As a passer he has struggled at times with consistency and accuracy. He seems to be a very streaky type of quarterback who can have big games at times where he is accurate and consistent and then struggle a bit in those areas the next time out. For me personally I relate it to Trent Dilfer for the Ravens’ Super Bowl team. Can Trevor Knight not do anything to lose any games for the Aggies but also at times throughout the year be that playmaker when the game calls for him to. He doesn’t have to be an All-American for the Aggies to have success but he has to be consistently solid.


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