Texas A&M football: 5 New Year's Resolutions the Aggies need to make and keep
The 2019 season is in the books for Texas A&M, and a very young Aggies team took its lumps throughout an 8-5 campaign in the 2nd year under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Aside from the monumental task of facing 3 No. 1-ranked teams on this year’s schedule, it played out just about as expected. All 5 losses were to top-10 teams, but the Aggies salvaged some respect with their 24-21 Texas Bowl victory over No. 25 Oklahoma State.
Now it’s time to look ahead to the new year. Here are 5 New Year’s resolutions the Aggies need to make and really focus on as they move ahead towards the 2020 season.
1.Solidify the QB spot
Kellen Mond is not a Fisher recruit, but the coach has invested a lot of time in developing the Aggies’ junior quarterback. What that means moving forward will be interesting to watch over the offseason and into spring practice. Mond fumbled twice, once on the Cowboys’ 1-yard line, and missed a wide-open receiver in the end zone in the first half of the Texas Bowl as the Aggies’ offense sputtered, as it has far too many times during the 2019 season.
But in true Mond fashion, he came up with some incredible plays with his feet, running for a 67-yard touchdown and setting up what proved to be the game-winning field goal with a 30-yard run. The Texas Bowl MVP has both thrilled and frustrated Aggieland for the past 2 seasons.
How much longer will Fisher work with this project before he decides to put his time and energy into molding one of his own recruits? Fisher is bringing in Longview 4-star dual threat Haynes King with the 2020 class. He signed Georgia 3-star pro-style QB Zach Calzada in his first class.
If Mond returns for his senior season, and if Fisher decides to stay with the veteran QB, he must continue to teach his protege the offense and identify the pass routes Mond is most comfortable throwing as to cut down on missed opportunities.
2. Grow up
I don’t mean that in a derogatory fashion. It’s just the next step in the development of this extremely young team. With just one senior (center Colton Prater) on A&M’s 2-deep depth chart, the future looks bright for the Aggies.
This young team won all the games it was supposed to win and then punctuated the 2019 season with a victory over a ranked opponent. That’s a sign that the “growing up” process is indeed in motion.
Now it must continue, and accelerate, through the offseason and into spring practice in preparation for what looks to be a promising 2020 season, if all progresses accordingly.
3. Become true road warriors
Start now toward that mental approach, because the 2020 season will be made or broken on the road. The Aggies’ biggest games of next season will be played away from Kyle Field. A 4-week stretch in October finds the Aggies at Mississippi State and then back-to-back at Auburn and South Carolina. The challenging road schedule concludes with a late November game at Alabama.
So if the Aggies have any intentions of contending in 2020, they’ll have to be at their best on the road. That will be a tall task for a team that will still be relatively young. But not as young as it was this season.
4. Stop the pass
I know, this sounds like a broken record. Since 2016, when the Aggies ranked 13th in the SEC against the pass, they’ve struggled to defend it. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but improvements have been made. They’ve just been slow and steady.
The Aggies ranked 8th in the SEC against the pass in 2019. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s their best finish since 2015, and an improvement over last year’s 12th-place finish.
If both return for their senior seasons, Myles Jones and Debione Renfro will lead the Aggies’ secondary. Freshman safety Demani Richardson will also return to patrol the secondary. He led the defense in the Texas Bowl with 8 tackles, including a season-high 2 for loss. And speaking of the bowl game, the Aggies yielded 184 passing yards, an improvement over their season average of 209.5.
5. Overcome the loss of an All-American
Senior All-American punter Braden Mann will be sorely missed. Finding someone to match Mann’s stats over the past 2 seasons will be a tall task. Mann led the nation last season by averaging 51 yards on 50 punts, and he finished among the top punters in the nation again this season with a 47-yard average on 57 boots.
Fisher brought in Nik Constantinou with his first recruiting class. The Australian punter has been called upon to make just 1 punt so far at Texas A&M. It was on Nov. 12 of this season against UTSA, and it went for 57 yards. Hello!