Texas A&M football: Jolted into reality by Clemson, the process remains unchanged
Jared Hocker guaranteed a victory over the nation’s top-ranked team. But Clemson was having none of it, not on its home field. The Tigers put the Aggies in their place with a 24-10 final in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score might have indicated. The Tigers used a 17-point 2nd quarter to cease control and the game was never in doubt after that.
The Aggies didn’t score a touchdown until their final offensive play.
Yes, the game served as a measuring stick. Yes, the Tigers exposed Texas A&M’s weaknesses. And looking through it with maroon-colored glasses, the Aggies know exactly where to focus on improving a season that still has at least 10 games left in it.
Saturday’s convincing defeat was definitely a punch in the gut, but hopefully it also served as a wake-up call to Hocker and his teammates as to the work that still needs to be done to get to the level of play as a program like Clemson or Alabama.
The Aggies aren’t there yet, and realistically did anyone outside of their locker room honestly believe they were? Saturday’s defeat didn’t damage the program nor did it derail the path it is on with Jimbo Fisher as head coach. Realistically, it should not have been expected that early in his second year at the helm, Fisher would have already lifted the program to the top of the college football landscape.
Sure, given last year’s 2-point loss to the eventual national champions there were those in Aggieland who succumbed to a false hope that Fisher’s process had been greatly accelerated. The fact is, it wasn’t. But it also wasn’t knocked off course, either, by Saturday’s setback, just as Joshua Corbin’s season-ending injury is another setback.
But that’s all the Clemson loss was. A setback. And perhaps not even a setback but rather a bump in the road.
What did Saturday’s loss really change other than a slap in the face as a reset to reality? A reality that Fisher and the Aggies are still a recruiting class or 2 away from producing the kinds of results we hoped to see when Texas A&M broke the bank to hire him.
Most believed that the while the Aggies would be a better football team this season, given the schedule, their record might not be any better than last year’s. Nothing that happened on Saturday should change that line of thinking.
“We have a good football team, but we have to play better and I have to coach better and that’s on me to get them in the right positions at the right time and make sure they know what’s going on and play better, because we have a good team,” Fisher said following the game.”
It’s a good team that’s still a season or 2 from possibly being a great team. That seemed to be the consensus going into the game Saturday. It should be the consensus now, too.
Sure, be disappointed in Mond’s performance. He definitely did not cease the opportunity.
“He couldn’t get in a groove,” Fisher said. “I didn’t think he was in sync early, just a hair off.”
Be disappointed in the pass defense, 12th in the SEC last season, especially in the 2nd quarter. That’s when the Aggies gave up 188 of the 268 yards passing for the game.
But also look at the second half. Adjustments were made and the Aggies played No. 1 Clemson on even terms. Mond, bloodied and battered, kept getting off the turf and eventually found the end zone.
“We made a lot of adjustments, our blocking scheme. We moved the ball for over 200 yards in the second half. Defensively, we held them to one touchdown,” Fisher said.
Moving forward, that has to at least serve to ease the sting of a wound suffered on Saturday and reaffirm to Aggieland that the process is still on track for big rewards in the not-too-distant future.