Texas A&M football: Grading the Aggies' Week 1 victory over Texas State
Starting the season with a convincing victory is always the preferred path regardless of the competition. That was the goal for Texas A&M on Thursday in its 2019 opener with Texas State at Kyle Field, and that goal was accomplished.
The Aggies took care of business with their 41-7 victory in what amounted to little more than a controlled scrimmage. Here are 5 things I liked about the victory and 3 things I didn’t like.
Kellen Mond’s arm strength
Especially on the run, Mond can flat out spin it. His decision-making and reaction time was good as well. Granted it was against lesser competition than he’ll face next week at Clemson, but overall Mond showed that he continues to improve his game under the guidance of Jimbo Fisher.
Take away a 3rd-quarter interception at the goal line, and Mond’s performance was pretty good. He completed 19-of-27 passes for 194 yards and 3 TDs. He also ran for another score and finished the night with a QB rating of 160.0.
The Aggies’ run defense picked up where it left off last season. It stuffed the Bobcats at the line of scrimmage and while the competition wasn’t anywhere near the level of the SEC, it was still good to see the run stopped at the point of attack.
Through 3 quarters, the Aggies yielded just 6 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Buddy Johnson displayed leadership qualities in a revamped LB corps with a team-high 7 tackles, including 2 for losses.
The Aggies’ secondary was aggressive throughout spring and fall camps and Thursday began to see the fruits of its labor. Myles Jones picked off 2 Texas State passes and CB Leon O’Neal Jr. and S Roney Elam got 1 apiece. That’s more than half of the 7 total interceptions the Aggies managed last season.
It was good to see the secondary play with enough confidence to be aggressive and make the big plays that turned the ball over.
He ran with authority and certainly got his feet wet at the college level, carrying 22 times for 103 yards. Of course, it remains to be seen if he can keep up that pace throughout an entire season against much much stronger competition. But for the small sample size, Corbin appeared capable of being the Aggies’ featured back moving forward.
Next week will be the major test, but Corbin ran well behind his blocking and wasn’t challenged to have to use much in the way of vision skills. That, too, will change next week and we’ll get a much better picture of the kind of running back Corbin really is.
Weren’t looking ahead
Credit Fisher and his staff for having the Aggies focused on the task at hand. The Aggies took charge early, scoring 4 TDs in their first 6 possessions. It was clear they weren’t looking ahead to Clemson, nor were they taking the Bobcats lightly.
The Aggies never allowed their visitors to gain momentum. After an uneventful initial possession, they scored on their next two and the game was never in doubt after that.
I didn’t like
Especially close to the goal line where the Aggies had some trouble moving the ball on the ground. As a group, the line failed to move an inferior Bobcats defensive front off the line of scrimmage when running plays were imminent.
The final score might suggest otherwise, but the offensive line still has a ways to go if it hopes to keep Mond clean and upright while opening running space for Corbin and the RB group.
Well, it wasn’t awful, and the Bobcats didn’t put up the kind of numbers we saw last season against the Texas A&M secondary. And yes, the interceptions were a welcomed sight. But there were still too many open receivers, especially early when the game was still competitive. The Bobcats were a couple of errant passes from ringing up some meaningful yardage through the air.
Statistically it was an outstanding game for the secondary. Through 3 quarters the Bobcats barely cracked the 100-yard mark in passing. Yes, the Bobcats finished with 211 total passing yards, but those numbers were inflated in garbage time.
It was a major step forward in comparison to the numbers of 2018, but tighter coverage will certainly be needed next week against Justyn Ross and beyond.
Lack of reserve play
I would have liked to have seen more skilled backup players get more touches. Though I understand that this was the opener and the starters need as much playing time as possible in preparation for Clemson, it still would have been nice to get some others into the game.
True freshman Zach Calzada got to show off his cannon of an arm, and Isaiah Spiller, another true freshman, got 7 carries and displayed his breakaway abilities with an 85-yard run.
But Cordarrian Richardson got just 2 touches and backup QBs Connor Blumrick and James Foster watched from the sidelines.