Can you call yourself a championship-caliber team if you’re still counting moral victories? That’s a trap Texas A&M cannot afford to fall into. Not if the Aggies aim to become that championship program. That’s easier said than done after the Aggies lost a one-possession game to No. 1-ranked Alabama at Kyle Field last week.
Yes, the 27-19 defeat is the best we’ve seen the Aggies play this year, and yes it did give reason for optimism for the future, but it still counts in the loss column of the conference standings. And that is, after all, the bottom line.
Fortunately, Saturday affords the Aggies an opportunity to take that next step. A win against Florida in The Swamp would not only be huge for that process, but a first-ever for the program. The teams have played just three times, and only once in Gainesville; that was a 1962 matchup that the Gators won 42-6.
The only victory Texas A&M owns over Florida is a 37-14 triumph in the 1977 Sun Bowl. It took 35 years, and the Aggies joining the SEC, for the teams to meet again. It was head coach Kevin Sumlin’s debut at Texas A&M, and the Aggies’ debut in the SEC, and Florida came away from Kyle Field with a 20-17 triumph on Sept. 8, 2012.
So a victory on Saturday would be meaningful on many levels. It’s a game that at the beginning of the season didn’t look favorable for Texas A&M. But with the Aggies seemingly on the rise and the Gators fighting just to keep their collective heads above water, depleted by injuries and suspensions, it’s a game that certainly can be considered a winnable one.
Now this could be just another case of what Nick Saban referred to as rat poison, but this Aggies team continues to improve on both sides of the football. Saban isn’t the only SEC head coach who doesn’t like his team listening to the noise; Kevin Sumlin agrees.
“They’re hearing a lot of different things from a lot of different people,” Sumlin said on his radio show. “What I’m proudest about this team is that they have believed and trusted in each other. And it’s going to be as important or more important this week for what’s going on (within the program) to be the talk that they listen to, instead of everything else.”
Shut your ears Aggies, here comes a heavy dose of that “rat poison.”
QB Kellen Mond continues to show the capability for running OC Noel Mazzone’s offense, and the defense held the top-ranked team in the country to its lowest yardage and points total since its opener against Florida State. It was an overall effort that gave us a glimpse of what this team can be, an effort that included the 12th Man, Cullen Gillaspia, blocking a punt for a safety.
Mond surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, hitting on 19 of 29 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown that resulted from a scramble resembling another Aggies freshman from a few years past.
Not to mention, some of the plays Kellen Mond made were Johnnyesque pic.twitter.com/QJuR9tLjR0
— Skye Underwood (@SkyeUnderwood) October 10, 2017
Similar efforts, like LB Tyrel Dodson’s career-high 16 tackles and K Daniel LaCamera’s career-long 52-yard field goal, will be what’s needed for the Aggies to turn a moral victory into a “W” on Saturday against a Florida team straying from tradition when it unveils a special uniform just for the occasion.
— G5👳🏾😈 (@Gemon_J_Wilson) October 11, 2017
We can only hope that’s not the start of something.