Texas A&M Three Keys: Mississippi State

Three-keys-Texas A&M

The Texas A&M Aggies aren’t getting what they need from their offense, but their defense was there to save the day last week against Ole Miss. Watching the defense pick up its teammates and turn a losing game into a winning one might be the spark this team needed.

The concern this week against Mississippi State isn’t so much whether the Aggies will beat the Bulldogs – that much they should be able to do – but to find a level of performance which can give this team some hope before a November closing stretch in which the Aggies will have to play Georgia and LSU. A&M has come up empty against the first three big-name programs on its daunting 2019 schedule: Alabama, Clemson and Auburn. If the Aggies can get a win over UGA or LSU, they will feel a lot better about their season and the shape of the program heading into 2020.

This game against Mississippi State is a chance to ramp up and improve before those Georgia and LSU tests.

1 – Kellen

You might be tired of this. I know I am… but unless or until Kellen Mond gains new insight AND, instructively, can apply that insight on game day, the Aggies won’t be able to beat Georgia or LSU. A&M’s problems go far beyond one player, but they certainly start with the inability to get the most from their quarterback in a year when other SEC teams have superstars (Joe Burrow at LSU, Tua at Alabama) or have been able to squeeze good production from backups (Florida with Kyle Trask, South Carolina with Ryan Hilinski.

This season has felt like a four-month slog through hell for A&M, but we haven’t even played the last game of October. The season is barely past its midpoint. There is a lot of football left to be played. Should we expect Mond to turn the corner? No. However, there is still time for the light to go on. Jimbo Fisher is getting all those dollars to find a solution. Let’s see if he can do that.

2 – Repeating the formula

Coordinator Mike Elko’s defense won last week’s game at Ole Miss with huge plays whenever the Rebels drove deep into Aggie territory. A&M swarmed to the ball, got pressure in the Ole Miss backfield, and generally wreaked havoc. If this game gets thorny, the Aggies’ safeguard is their defense in their own third of the field. Mississippi State does not have an explosive offense. The A&M defense should be able to do damage control if there are stretches of play in which Mississippi State begins to show confidence and demonstrate the ability to compete on even terms with the Aggies.

3 – Offensive line

We have focused so much on Mond this season that the role of the offensive line in holding the offense back has been comparatively ignored. While Mond tries to develop more touch and accuracy on his passes, it remains that a better, stronger offensive line would boost the running attack and place less of a burden on Mond to make plays. A&M has to find the capacity to run the ball well enough to reduce Mond’s workload. Discussing A&M’s offensive woes is incomplete without mentioning that piece of the puzzle.

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