Texas A&M faces Clemson on Saturday in Clemson, SC. Here are your three keys to a Texas A&M win over Clemson.
By Matt Zemek
Here we go. Last year, Texas A&M showed it could compete with the best of the best in a featured game with all eyes in America watching the spectacle. The Aggies took Clemson down to the wire, but missed a game-tying 2-point conversion attempt and lost 28-26.
Now the Aggies get a second crack at Clemson, the defending national champions. However, the game is in Clemson. What is also different about this game is that when Clemson beat A&M last year, Kelly Bryant was still the Tigers’ starting quarterback. He had not yet transferred and been replaced by Trevor Lawrence. This is Lawrence’s first game against the Aggies, which makes this contest new in a very meaningful way. Let’s see what Texas A&M needs to do to prevail.
Key 1 – Mike Elko Magic
The Aggies held Clemson under 30 points last year. If they can somehow do that again on Saturday, they will give themselves a great chance to pull the outright upset, not merely cover the spread. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko used to study Clemson game film on an annual basis when he was the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had to play Clemson every year in the ACC Atlantic Division. That familiarity with Clemson showed in Elko’s performance last year. If Elko can duplicate that effort this Saturday, and do things to confuse Lawrence – who made some big mistakes in Clemson’s season opener against Georgia Tech – the Aggies will be right there in the fourth quarter with a chance to win this game. Disguising looks and showing Lawrence certain alignments or tendencies he hasn’t seen before could spring a trap and change the course of this game.
Key 2 – Ball Control
Some people might say, reasonably enough, that A&M has to finish drives. It does. Ball control without touchdowns means a lot less than ball control with seven points. It is true that scoring a touchdown is the ultimate aim of each offensive possession. Yet, with Lawrence and Travis Etienne and so many other elite skill position players on the Clemson sideline, it really is paramount for Texas A&M to convert third downs, convert fourth and short situations, and do the kinds of things which will create eight-minute TD drives. A pure shootout works for Clemson. A&M has to limit Lawrence’s time on the field.
Key 3 – Kellen Mond In The Spotlight
Everyone knows Kellen Mond is an athletically gifted quarterback. Everyone knows he is capable of great performances. Everyone knows he is inconsistent and has not developed true mastery of the quarterback position. He gets a chance to prove all his doubters wrong in this game. More than that, Mond gets a chance to show how much he has evolved as a quarterback under Jimbo Fisher. If Mond puts all the pieces together in this game, A&M can win.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 2:30 PM CT (3:30 PM ET). Watch on the ABC Network.
SEC Football Stories For This Week
|Game||First Looks||3 Keys|
|W. Virginia vs. Missouri||W. Virginia||Mizzou||Preview||Mizzou 38, WVA 7||Stats|
|C. Southern vs. S. Carolina||C. Southern||USC||Preview||USC 72, CSU 10||Stats|
|Tulane vs. Auburn||Tulane||Auburn||Preview||Auburn 24, Tulane 6||Stats|
|N. Mexico St vs. Alabama||NMSU||Bama||Preview||Alabama 62, NMSU 10||Stats|
|USM vs. Mississippi St.||Southern Miss||MSU||Preview||MSU 38, USM 15||Stats|
|Texas A&M vs. Clemson||Clemson||Texas A&M||Preview||Clemson 24, A&M 10||Stats|
|E. Michigan vs. Kentucky||E. Michigan||Kentucky||Preview||UK 38, E Michigan 17||Stats|
|UT Martin vs. Florida||UT Martin||FLA||Preview||Florida 45, UTM 0||Stats|
|BYU vs. Tennessee||BYU||TEN||Preview||BYU 29, TEN 26||Stats|
|Arkansas vs. Ole Miss||OM / ARK||ARK||Preview||Ole Miss 31, Arkansas 17||Stats|
|Murray State vs. Georgia||Murray St||UGA||Preview||UGA 63, Murray St 17||Stats|
|LSU vs. Texas||Texas||LSU||Preview||LSU 45, Texas 38||Stats|
|Vanderbilt vs. Purdue||Purdue||Vandy||Preview||Purdue 42, Vandy 24||Stats|