Texas A&M football: Mond, Aggies aren't flashy, but are contenders because of balanced approach
Kellen Mond did something uncharacteristic late in the game against Auburn on Saturday.
He nearly made a mistake.
With Texas A&M trailing the Tigers early in the 4th quarter, Mond took a shot to the end zone. The hearts of Aggies fans collectively dropped for a moment as it appeared Zakoby McClain had an interception. But the ball slipped through his hands and into Jalen Wydermyer’s.
Just like that, the Aggies were on their way to their 6th straight victory, 31-20.
The loss to Alabama in the 2nd game of the season that had us questioning A&M’s legitimacy seems long ago now. They are No. 5 in the College Football Playoff ranking, with a legitimate shot to get in if things fall their way. That has happened because of their balanced attack and smart football.
Kellen Mond isn’t Kyle Trask. He isn’t going to put up gaudy numbers in this system.
I wrote last week that for the Aggies to get to the Playoff, they needed Mond to replicate the numbers of prolific quarterbacks on past Playoff teams. Now I’m starting to realize that just isn’t him, or this team. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s why they’re in this position.
Outside of the near-interception, Mond was mostly on target all day Saturday.
He finished 18-of-23, a nice bounceback performance after completing less than 33 percent of his passes against LSU. It’s the kind of play that has come to define him in his senior season.
The Aggies have one of the best offensive lines in the country. That allows them to control possession most of the time with their run game and win that way. Especially in a year where the receiving corps has been depleted by injuries and opt-outs, that has come in handy.
Mond still has his big games when he is called upon. His only 300-yard outings of the season came in the big win against Florida and the loss to Alabama. He also threw for 3 touchdowns in each of those games.
But he is averaging only 221 yards per game on the season. The Aggies are at this point because they rarely beat themselves. To take them down, it takes the same level of fundamental perfection on the opponent’s part.
A&M is one of 16 teams in the country that are committing less than 1 turnover per game. Mond is a big reason why, as he has not thrown an interception in their past 4 games. He has just 2 on the year, which is tied for 1st in the SEC with Missouri’s Connor Bazelak.
If the Aggies aren’t giving the ball up, that allows Isaiah Spiller and company to slowly wear down the opposing defense. They’ve done that as well as anyone in the country, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Then there is the defense, which has been the best unit in the SEC so far. That was on display Saturday, when they came up with 2 crucial 3-and-outs to help secure the win.
A&M has failed to live up to expectations in the past because they lost to teams they shouldn’t have. That hasn’t been much of an issue under Jimbo Fisher. Even last year, their losses came to ranked opponents.
Fisher has said numerous times that the Aggies can only focus on winning and not how it affects them in the rankings. It might as well be their mantra for the year. However, it’s undeniable that’s just what the Aggies have done.
They might not be flashy, but they don’t have many weaknesses and have played sound football.
Whether they get into the Playoff remains to be seen. But A&M has given themselves a chance because of their sound play. Fisher has definitely done enough to meet expectations in his 3rd year at the helm.