Texas A&M football: Aggies look like half of a championship-caliber team in return
It was yet another dominant performance for Texas A&M in their return to the field.
At least, on defense.
The Aggies came extremely close to forcing a shutout against LSU on Saturday, but the Tigers scored with seconds to spare to make the final 20-7. A&M finished with a pair of interceptions, including a pick-6 in the 3rd quarter that gave them a 20-0 lead. They also came away with 2 sacks and 9 quarterback hurries.
It was refreshing to see after the Aggies missed the past 2 weeks because of contact tracing and positive COVID-19 tests. The SEC’s top-ranked defense didn’t seem to be affected by the time off at all. If anything, it looked better.
You couldn’t say the same about the offense.
Kellen Mond struggled to connect with his receivers all evening. He finished 11-of-34 for a mere 105 yards. The Aggies’ lone offensive touchdown came on a 52-yard run from Isaiah Spiller. Outside of that, the sophomore running back averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.
The one good thing you can say about the Aggies offense is that it didn’t commit any turnovers. Still, it’s hard to feel positive about much when 12 of your 16 drives end with a punt.
A&M is allowed a break here. They couldn’t practice in person for 2 weeks, so it makes sense they might be a bit out of rhythm. But it’s clear they have to be better moving forward.
The College Football Playoff committee is watching, and right now the Aggies are on the outside at No. 5.
Ohio State is right ahead of them at No. 4, but they canceled their game against Illinois on Saturday after a COVID-19 outbreak of their own. The Buckeyes also canceled a Nov. 14 game against Maryland. If they nix any more matchups, they will be ineligible to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.
That could be the perfect opportunity for A&M to leapfrog Ohio State for the No. 4 spot, assuming Alabama takes care of Florida in the SEC Championship Game. But it won’t happen unless they can prove themselves to be a complete team.
They were certainly doing that before the quarantine period.
Mond had thrown for a combined 12 touchdowns in the 4 games prior to Saturday’s, all of which were Aggies wins. Spiller was cementing himself as one of the top running backs in the SEC. A&M was scoring pretty much at will, averaging 39.8 points per game during that span.
And the defense was still playing well.
A&M has to hope that version of the team returns to have a chance at surpassing Ohio State, or even one of Clemson/Notre Dame, and getting into the Playoff.
The remaining schedule is kind to the Aggies. None of the 3 teams (assuming they reschedule the Ole Miss game) they will face are teams they should lose to. With that being the case, how they win is going to matter a lot more.
They need to not only win, but to do so in dominant fashion.
Saturday likely won’t hurt the Aggies that much. It’s only 1 game, and the committee is made of human beings who will likely consider the circumstances. Right now, we have far more evidence of a Playoff-caliber A&M team than we have questions about this offense.
Let’s hope this was simply the result of the challenges the unique time we’re in presents. The game against Auburn next week will be an opportunity for the Aggies to prove just that.