Texas A&M faces Alabama on Saturday in College Station. Here are your three keys to a Texas A&M win over Alabama.
By Matt Zemek
The Texas A&M Aggies always knew this season would be rough, given the difficulty of their schedule. The disappointing part of their 2019 campaign to this point is not the fact that they have lost to Clemson and Auburn. It is the fact that they have played so poorly. No one in the SEC thinks A&M is ready to beat any of the tough teams remaining on its slate. Moreover, the Aggies almost lost to lowly Arkansas and look like a team which could sink to a 6-6 record at some point by losing a game they weren’t expected to drop.
Tough schedule or not, a 6-6 record is not what Jimbo Fisher was hired for. Way too many oil dollars were spent on the attempt to revive A&M football after the Kevin Sumlin era failed to get off the ground.
A&M is trying to beat Alabama this Saturday, but beyond that, the Aggies are playing for pride and self-respect. When they got thoroughly outplayed at home by Auburn a few weeks ago, some people reasonably but questionably felt Auburn was a very good team. When Auburn got exposed by Florida, the quality of that loss to Auburn plummeted. The Aggies are at risk of getting blown out, which would be a complete humiliation and a sign they are nowhere near where they are supposed to be.
These keys pertain to victory, but they also relate to the simpler task of putting up a good fight and reminding the Aggies that they are legitimately good… which isn’t a clear reality (not yet) this season:
Key 1 – Kellen Mond
Not a lot needs to be said here: Kellen Mond needs to improve. Jimbo needs to get the best out of him.
Consider, as a comparison, how well Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma has been able to maximize the talents of Baker Mayfield, then Kyler Murray (who had been an A&M quarterback), and now Jalen Hurts. If Fisher can’t develop his quarterback, not much else will matter. Everyone can see this.
Key 2 – Receiving a huge game
South Carolina – not a particularly good team – did threaten the Alabama defense a month ago. The Gamecocks created several chunk plays and, had they been a little more disciplined, could have scored over 30 points against the Crimson Tide. If Kellen Mond gives his receivers a chance to make plays in traffic, they need to win 50-50 balls in the air. They need to play above the standard they have established so far this season. If Mond can’t display any accuracy, this point is moot, but if plays are there to be made, this has to become the Aggies’ best position group on Saturday. Alabama will score its share of points. A&M has to be able to score in the 40s to win, and in the 30s to at least be competitive.
Key 3 – Doubles, not homers
Alabama can hit 60- and 75-yard touchdowns. A&M needs to make open-field tackles to limit the Tide’s fast receivers to 30-yard gains and shape Alabama’s possessions so that the Tide have to operate in the red zone, work in short space, and bog down to settle for field goals. Managing Alabama’s drives by forcing Tua Tagovailoa to have to make extra plays inside the 20 is how A&M can contain the Crimson Tide’s offense and stay in the hunt.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 2:30 PM CT (3:30 PM ET). Watch on the CBS Network.
This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis
|Game||First Looks||3 Keys|
|South Carolina vs. Georgia||USC / UGA||USC / UGA||Preview||USC 20, UGA 17||Stats|
|Arkansas vs. Kentucky||Arky / Kentucky||Arky / Kentucky||Preview||UK 24, Arky 17||Stats|
|Florida vs. LSU||Florida / LSU||LSU / Florida||Preview||LSU 42, Florida 28||Stats|
|Ole Miss vs. Missouri||Ole Miss / Mizzou||Ole Miss / Mizzou||Preview||Mizzou 38, Ole Miss 27||Stats|
|Mississippi State vs. Tennessee||Tennessee / MSU||MSU / Tennessee||Preview||Tennessee 20, MSU 10||Stats|
|Alabama vs. Texas A&M||Bama / A&M||A&M / Bama||Preview||Bama 47, A&M 28||Stats|
|UNLV vs. Vanderbilt||UNLV||Vandy||Preview||UNLV 34, Vandy 10||Stats|