Texas A&M has put itself in another must-win situation against Florida
The pressure is on Texas A&M.
Actually, it’s difficult to remember the last time the pressure was off the Aggies. Still tending to their wounds from the latest licking against Alabama, they run into another top 5 team when they face No. 4 Florida next week. It seems we say this every other week during Jimbo Fisher’s tenure, but it is once again true: This is a must-win game for A&M.
The Aggies are 1-1. They opened with an uninspiring victory over Vanderbilt and were manhandled by Alabama.
People are growing weary of hearing about potential. They want to see results. Saturday’s 52-24 drubbing against the Tide did little to convince anyone that all of that offseason hype is real. The Aggies are plummeting in the polls, down to No. 21 after starting the year at No. 10.
Saturday’s loss just served to confirm what football fans have known for a while: Texas A&M isn’t in the same league as Alabama. It hasn’t shown it can compete with Georgia or LSU or any of the other perennial SEC powers.
The Aggies are a good team, but they’re second tier. That’s a harsh assessment, but the fact is the Aggies are 3-8 against AP ranked teams under Fisher. The reason Fisher is here is that Kevin Sumlin went 7-9 against ranked teams after Johnny Manziel left, and that wasn’t deemed good enough.
For all the hype about Kellen Mond entering this season, he has through 2 games fallen short of expectations. Nobody in the league has more experience, yet 5 SEC QBs already have thrown more TDs than Mond, who has 5. He also ranks 6th in yards behind the same group. Ten SEC QBs are completing a higher percentage of passes than Mond (58.3). Seven have a higher QB rating.
The Vanderbilt game was a disaster and though he improved against the Crimson Tide, the offense was stagnant during the most important stretches of that game.
The Aggies have a chance to restore the faith with a victory or even a strong showing against the Gators. But another blowout would be devastating. They would likely fall out of the polls and the chatter about Mond and Fisher would only grow louder.
Unfortunately, beating Florida is something few teams are going to be able to do this season.
The Gators are a legitimate SEC and Playoff contender and quarterback Kyle Trask is making his Heisman case early. His go-to pass-catcher is tight end Kyle Pitts, who already had 6 touchdowns. A&M’s secondary has to be better after giving up 3 long touchdown throws to Alabama quarterback Mac Jones this past week.
Isaiah Spiller and Ainias Smith have to be more effective on the ground after combining for just 3.4 yards per carry against the Tide. It’s frustrating because both have flashed potential. Smith dazzled on a 47-yard touchdown catch Saturday in which he tiptoed the sidelines to stay inbounds in the 1st quarter. He also dropped an easy catch on 4th-and-2 late in the 2nd quarter, setting the Crimson Tide up to score before halftime.
Let’s pause to give Alabama some credit. Its defense played well. However, a lot of it was also the Aggies getting in their own way. That has been the case in each of the first 2 games.
The narrative persists that Fisher can’t win big-time games at A&M and there’s no arguing with the results. This is Year 3. Aggies fans already are restless. The Aggies still have time to write a different story, but not much time.
A loss against Florida feels like it would be the proverbial straw that sent the season downhill, but maybe that is a bit dramatic. Maybe just a close game against the Gators would assuage the fans for another week.
But it sure feels like a must-win for the Aggies.