Halfway through the college football regular season, Texas A&M is trying to discover what it’s about after another loss to a No. 1 team.
COLLEGE STATION — Halfway through the college football regular season, Texas A&M is trying to discover what it’s about after another loss to a No. 1 team.
“It’s very important we find ourselves and truly learn from that,” junior receiver Jhamon Ausbon said Monday. “It can be a really good season. We can go 10-3 from this point on and go to a good bowl game.”
At the moment, A&M is 3-3 headed to Ole Miss on Saturday. The Aggies are processing losses to teams atop the AP Top 25, Alabama and Clemson, as well as Auburn, ranked eighth at the time. Combined, those three are 17-1.
“Man, we’re right there. I know it seems like I keep saying the same thing, but you never know,” Ausbon said, relaying a bit of coach Jimbo Fisher’s philosophy.
“Like coach says, some teams are not national championship teams. It’s very important to reach your maximum potential, whatever that is and whatever it may be. I’m just really excited to see how we’re going to take this. We’re really close.”
The next four games—Ole Miss, Mississippi State, UTSA and South Carolina—will determine the lessons from the first half and whether this A&M season may still finish on an upswing, or something less satisfying.
Nobody quite knows. A&M doesn’t have much of a running game beyond quarterback Kellen Mond. The team is averaging 113.8 yards and 3.92 yards per carry against FBS opponents. And the Aggies have not exactly put the pressure on opposing quarterbacks with nine sacks in six games. The only victory over a team with a winning record was Lamar.
None of this qualifies as breaking news.
The Alabama game added another component for A&M to correct with busted coverage on kickoffs and punt returns. The average starting position for the Crimson Tide was the Texas A&M 48 with 311 return yards.
“Against a team like Alabama,” Fisher said, “there is no room for lapses anywhere.”
Unlike many teams, A&M doesn’t have an assistant devoted to special teams. Fisher divides the special teams duties among his staff, and said he did the same thing on his national championship team at Florida State.
“You go through so many growing pains, and you understand what it takes to be successful,” defensive back Keldrick Carper said, “and you understand the things you can’t do in big-time games against big-time opponents.”
Added linebacker Anthony Hines III: “Turning the corner is really reducing the amount of self-inflicted wounds we have.”
Players said no one had yet checked out mentally on the season. And the only mildly disappointing performance was to Auburn and freshman quarterback Bo Nix at home.
“I really tests what team you are and what team you are mentally,” Mond said. “A lot of teams with this type of record would be down but I definitely see growth in this team. We’re definitely not done yet.”
A year ago, A&M fans had all kinds of enthusiasm for Fisher and what he would build. Now that seems tempered by this year’s schedule and start.
“We’ve got work to do,” Fisher said, aware of fan expectations. “I’m the same way. I want fans to have expectations and want to be good and want to win, and we do too as coaches. ...
“I still feel very good about where we’re at and the direction we’re going. I can watch the film and watch us get better.”