It’s not been an easy road for Texas A&M thus far. Through six games, the Aggies had already had to deal with three top-10 teams—all losses—and their two SEC wins hadn’t come easy.
COLLEGE STATION — It’s not been an easy road for Texas A&M thus far. Through six games, the Aggies had already had to deal with three top-10 teams—all losses—and their two SEC wins hadn’t come easy.
But last Saturday at Kyle Field was a chance to shove aside the woes, with a couple more winnable games on the horizon. And with its best offensive performance of the season, Texas A&M did just that.
Kellen Mond and the Aggies cruised to a 49-30 victory against a scuffling Mississippi State squad as Texas A&M’s junior quarterback racked up five touchdowns and a career-best 202.4 passer rating.
The Aggies’ offense was effective and efficient—finishing with 441 yards on 62 plays, good for an average of 7.1, and capitalizing on short fields, scoring 21 points off three Bulldogs turnovers.
“We got ahead in the game, stayed ahead in the game (and) didn’t have a lot of the self-inflicted wounds that allow teams to come back and get ahead,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “The momentum swings (on turnovers). One side creates a play, and the other side builds off it and capitalizes. You take the air out of people.”
Although Texas A&M could only muster one first down on its opening series, the Aggies didn’t need much time to find a rhythm. They strung together three consecutive drives of 50-plus yards, the first two ending in Mond rushing scores, to seize control of the game.
Mond said he didn’t think this was the best the offense can play.
“We didn’t score on every drive,” he said. “I had about three running reads that I missed today. ... But the past three or four weeks, we’ve taken a leap in practice, being more demanding and wanting to be great.”
With a 21-7 lead in their back pocket, the hosts continued to pile it on. Mond tossed to Kendrick Rodgers for a 16-yard score a few minutes before halftime. Then, on the Aggies’ first drive following the break, Mond hit freshman tight end Jalen Wydermyer for a 52-yard touchdown—Texas A&M’s longest passing score of the season.
“You can have those (explosive plays) that create points and you don’t have to have 12-play drives in which you execute perfectly,” Fisher said. “I like those two-play drives—make a guy miss, run over somebody and then go score.”
The Aggies played nearly the entire second half on cruise control, holding their largest advantage at the break in an SEC game since 2014.
And they leaned on their running game to milk the clock. Texas A&M gained 207 yards on the ground, as Isaiah Spiller and Cordarrian Richardson found the end zone from in close to extend the Aggies’ lead.
Perhaps more important, this was the first time all season Texas A&M didn’t surrender a sack to a “power five” team.
“The line up front did a really good job in their communication, their pass blocking, putting hats on hats and getting us going in the run game,” Fisher said.
The day wasn’t perfect, however.
The Aggies let Mississippi State find its offensive groove in the late stages, even though the game was out of reach, and they committed three dead-ball fouls.
Although Texas A&M wanted to protect Mond, particularly on a day when the 6-2 signal-caller was rolling, the Aggies know they can’t give away yards—especially against stiffer SEC competition down the line.
“We were having (Mond’s) back, but when the guy walks off with his shoe, just let him have it,” wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon said. “Let them get the penalty for the ignorant play and stay focused on the task ahead.”