In their first game after receiving a No. 4 ranking from the College Football Playoff committee, the Aggies dropped a 35-28 decision at Mississippi State on Saturday.

Here’s an analysis of Texas A&M’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs:

5 TAKEAWAYS

  • Defense isn’t fixed: In his second season with the Aggies, DC John Chavis had his troops steadily improving from the time he walked on campus. But Saturday’s performance was a giant leap backwards. The Aggies gave up 574 total yards of offense to Mississippi State, including 365 rushing yards. That was a particular area of concern for the Aggies coming into the season.
  • Injuries are mounting up: The Aggies’ defense was hamstrung without DE Myles Garrett, who played almost exclusively on third down situations. The offensive line took a hit when Connor Lanfear reinjured a knee. Quarterback Trevor Knight played only one quarter and sparingly in the second quarter. A shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines and out of uniform in the second half, his throwing arm in a sling.
  • No Playoff this season: Even though the Aggies were ranked No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff poll, the odds were against them for holding that place even if they had won out. But that’s no longer a dilemna. A two-loss Texas A&M team that won’t win its division nor play for a conference championship has virtually no shot at making the Playoff.
  • No team can be overlooked in the SEC: While Arkansas was taking care of Florida, Texas A&M was blindsided by a physical and determined Mississippi State squad playing on its home turf. It only proves that no team in this conference can be taken lightly or what happened to the Gators and Aggies on Saturday is likely to repeat itself. While Texas A&M was considered one of the better teams in the SEC, the Bulldogs were viewed by many to be the SEC West doormat. On the field Saturday, it was a very different story.
  • Jake Hubenak is a capable backup: He may not be the Aggies’ first choice for quarterback, but Hubenak has proven to be a very serviceable player off the bench. With only one career start under his belt (last year’s bowl game), Hubenak stepped in for the injured Knight on Saturday and threw for 222 yards. Hubenak completed 11-of-17 passes, threw 2 touchdown tosses and was intercepted once. Not a bad day’s work.

REPORT CARD

Offense: D – The Aggies’ offense struggled to score points. Hubenak infused it somewhat, although after scoring just one offensive touchdown in the first half, the Aggies managed just two more in the second half. They were 4-of-15 on third down conversions and possessed the ball just 22:47.

Defense: D – What happened to the Aggies’ defense that only seemed to be improving with every game under Chavis? An inability to stop the run reared its ugly head. This looked like the Aggies’ defense of the last couple of seasons; those that ranked at or near the bottom in the conference against the run.

Special teams: C – Only a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown saved an otherwise dismal performance. And even that could have been nullified by a block in the back penalty that wasn’t called. Other than that, the Aggies had trouble cleanly fielding a couple of kickoffs and they missed a field goal.

Coaching: C – The coaching actually wasn’t that bad. Halftime adjustments seemed to be made, and Mississippi State was held to just 7 points over the final two quarters.

Overall: C- – It’s about as good a grade as could be hoped for in a loss. The Aggies were working on a failing grade until they showed signs of life late in the second quarter. But by then, they had dug an insurmountable 28-7 hole for themselves.

GAME PLAN

The game plan was as it’s been; overly aggressive on defense and an even mixture of pass and run on offense. However, Mississippi State was able to take advantage of that by running misdirection on offense that kept the Aggies on their heels.

GAME BALLS

  • WR Christian Kirk: He took another punt to the house, his third punt return for a touchdown in two games. He also had a game-high 144 receiving yards on 7 pass receptions and another touchdown.
  • DB Justin Evans: A leader on defense, Evans recorded 11 tackles, including a game-high 2 tackles for loss. He also returned two kickoffs for a 14.0-yard average.
  • DB Nick Harvey: In addition to intercepting a pass, Harvey recorded 9 tackles, including 4 solo.