The Texas A&M Aggies are walking into the belly of the beast. They are venturing into Tiger Stadium, where LSU is waiting with saliva dripping from the sides of its mouth. The Tigers remember the 74-72 seven-overtime loss in College Station a year ago.
By Matt Zemek
The Tigers felt they were jobbed by the officiating in that game. Joe Burrow played what was then one of his best games at LSU, and he walked away with a loss. That victory propelled A&M into the postseason on a high note. The Aggies crushed North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl and entered 2019 as a team to watch. Now, A&M is stumbling to the finish line, with LSU wanting to exact revenge for last season. Jimbo Fisher returns to Baton Rouge, where he won a national championship alongside Nick Saban as his offensive coordinator on the 2003 LSU coaching staff.
A&M has not had a successful season, and it won’t be a successful season even with a win over LSU. However, a victory in Baton Rouge would allow the Aggies to think that in 2020, they could start to figure a few things out under Fisher and make a journey which will enable them to eventually reach their potential as a football program.
1 – Kellen Mond
There isn’t much left to say, but A&M beating a great team depends on Mond playing well. There is no need for a grand or elaborate explanation at this point, but Mond can’t be kept off a “top three keys to victory” list. It would be intellectually dishonest to do so.
2 – Jimbo Fisher
Punting late in the Georgia game was a jarring example of coaching malpractice, also a complete lack of trust in both Mond and his offense. That was an appallingly bad decision, but it comes from a season of offensive failures for a man who has demonstrated in the past (at Florida State) a pronounced skill for play design and sound offensive structure. Fisher can’t be a coward the way he was at the end of the Georgia game. He has to go for broke in this game, especially since LSU is likely to score a large amount of points. Fisher can’t coach from fear. He has to go for the brass ring in this game.
3 – The front four
Auburn held LSU to 23 points. A&M’s defense faces a very tough challenge in its attempt to do something similar against the best offense in the United States, but the Aggies have to at least try. That effort begins and ends with a front four which needs to be as disruptive to LSU’s offense as Auburn’s front four was a month ago. Can Mike Elko get the very best out of his pass rush and his run stuffers up front?