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SEC's 10-game, conference-only schedule to be exciting but daunting

SEC's 10-game, conference-only schedule to be exciting but daunting

Former Texas A&M football players weigh in on adding two conference games

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Texas A&M's Jay Arnold (96) looks the the stands while celebrating with his teammates following the Aggies' road win against Arkansas in Fayetteville Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. Arnold says the Aggies can't take any game for granted in their updated schedule featuring 10 SEC games. (Eagle Photo/ Stuart Villanueva)

When former Texas A&M tight end Tanner Schorp first read that the Southeastern Conference was going to play a 10-game, conference-only season, he was simultaneously excited and apprehensive for the current group of Aggies.

Sure, there will be the excitement of preparing for a big game each and every week, but there will be plenty of pain that comes with that gauntlet as well, he said.

“If I were a player, I would be living in the training room, even if I wasn’t banged up, just trying to stay as healthy as I can and taking care of my body, because those SEC games, man — I’m sure all those guys that are playing know what they’re getting into,” Schorp said.

Schorp, who played for the Aggies from 2015-2017, was no stranger to the training table. After the conclusion of his senior season, he underwent surgery on his shoulder, the effects of which he still deals with today.

The guarantee games, this year slated to be Abilene Christian, North Texas and Fresno State, would have provided a bit of a reprieve for starters to allow wounds to heal before the next big SEC matchup, former A&M running back Kwame Etwi said.

“Just making it strictly SEC games just pretty much changes everything, because the reality of things are, there’s games we play where it’s not as much of a physical toll on us,” Etwi said. “As bad as it sounds, that’s the reality of things. It just happens. Not all games are as physical as others. The reality of it is, too, that most games that aren’t as [physical as] the others are the games… it’s not an SEC team.”

That being said, nothing beats the adrenaline rush of an SEC matchup, Etwi said.

“It’s going to be 100%, full pedal-to-the-metal, all the time and every single game will be foot on the gas, no brakes,” Etwi said.

Former Texas A&M defensive lineman Jay Arnold remembered SEC matchups provide little reprieve, even when a blowout might be expected. The Rockwall native, who played at A&M during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, conjured up the Southwest Classic matchups with Arkansas as an example.

The Aggies’ 2016 win over the Razorbacks, 45-24 was the last matchup that featured a final tally of more than one score.

“There may be one or two conference games that are blowups, but even the ones that should be, tend to not be blowouts,” Arnold said. “Look at the way A&M has played Arkansas for the past four years. You know, Arkansas hasn’t had a great team, but there’s just something about those conference battles that teams just kind of get up for, and even if a game is supported to be a blowout, it could end up being close.”

Ultimately, bringing home an SEC crown at the end of one of the most unique seasons, one all three said they are more than excited to watch, might come down to who can prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the team and also stay healthy in between games.

“I think you kind of have to get professional when you think about, OK, this is strictly SEC. I’m going to be eating right. I’m going to need to be rehabbing, taking care of my body because, if I want to enjoy the fun, I’ve got to to be able to participate,” Etwi said. “My body has to be able to do what it has to do so I can have fun, because it’s a lot less fun when you’re hurting.”

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