You want to show you're an elite QB, Kellen Mond? Carve up Clemson ... again
At SEC Media Days, Kellen Mond wasn’t bashful. At all.
The Texas A&M quarterback was asked where he feels he ranks among SEC signal-callers, and instead of doing what many would in that spot, Mond gave an actual answer.
“I feel, in my opinion, I’m the best one,” Mond said via a video posted to Twitter by TexAgs. “That’s not just because I’m a confident person, but I actually believe that. I feel like my teammates believe in me too and coach (Jimbo) Fisher does. Like I just told him, I can come out here and say that in front of the media, but I have to go out and prove it out on the field, the SEC has a lot great quarterbacks and they’ve all proven that throughout the years, but I feel like I’m the best.”
Mond didn’t sit there and break down weaknesses of Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm. He instead talked about the strides he made in his first season with Fisher’s offense.
One of those moments in which we saw Mond’s growth came in the Aggies’ Week 2 matchup against Clemson last year. In a down-to-the-wire game in College Station, Mond had a career day with 430 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.
And while Mond didn’t come out and say this, perhaps his justification for his “I’m the best QB in the SEC” claim stemmed from the fact that against that same Clemson defense, he was far better than Tagovailoa. Again, I don’t know if that went into his thought process, but I imagine if one were to make that argument, that’s where they’d start.
What I do know is that Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence, Mond’s counterpart this weekend, are considered 2 of the top quarterbacks in the sport and already have strong NFL interest.
What I also know is that if Mond outplays Lawrence and stuns Clemson, his SEC Media Days comment about being better than Tagovailoa won’t look nearly as bold.
Granted, it’s one game. We have an entire season’s worth of data to suggest that Tagovailoa is still the superior quarterback, regardless of how Mond performs in Death Valley.
But at the same time, this is the type of game that can take Mond to the next level. This is the type of game that casual fans will tune into and if Mond goes off again, many will wonder why the 3rd-year player isn’t being talked about in NFL Draft circles.
And if you don’t believe draft eligible quarterbacks going off against Clemson in Death Valley means anything, perhaps you missed Nathan Peterman’s coming out party in 2016:
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 13, 2016
Mond ain’t Peterman. He’s far closer to a household name than Peterman was at the time.
But like pre-Clemson Peterman, Mond isn’t in that group of elite signal-callers yet. Las Vegas Superbook was the only place — at least that I could find — that even gave Mond preseason Heisman Trophy odds (50/1). There were 9 quarterback with better odds, and even the 247sports article headline was about Mond’s “surprising” Heisman odds.
If Mond repeats last year’s Clemson performance, he’ll absolutely get into the way-too-early Heisman conversation. It’ll also vault him into the category of elite college football signal-callers.
Whether Mond goes off against Clemson or not, there’s plenty of evidence that he could be one of the top 7 or so quarterbacks in the country.
Does he need to be more accurate? Yeah. He only completed 60% of his passes once in his final 6 games last year.
Does he need to take fewer sacks? Definitely. Only 2 Power 5 quarterbacks were sacked more than Mond was last year.
But can he do everything you’d want a quarterback to do? Absolutely.
That’s why Fisher picked him to start over Nick Starkel, even though Starkel was the better quarterback before he arrived in 2017. Mond’s skill set as a mobile, increasingly-accurate quarterback who can operate under any formation and also stretch the field makes him dangerous.
You don’t have to tell Clemson that. Mond showed all of those skills last year:
— BLACK SPORTSCENTER (@VersaceBoyEnt) September 9, 2018
kellen mond went berserk against clemson in the 2h pic.twitter.com/bzDDG619Vq
— Tyler Morales (@_TMorales) September 20, 2018
That second throw was especially next-level. Well, at least in 2019. Run-pass option look, keeps his eyes downfield, squares his shoulders to his target, delivers an absolute dart with a pair of Clemson defenders closing in and picks up a massive gain to inject life into the Aggies.
Boom. That’s a moneymaker. Mond has a prime opportunity to make himself some money this weekend.
It’s ironic because once upon a time, Deshaun Watson was known as the guy who went off against Alabama twice. It was Watson whom Mond idolized coming through the ranks as a blue-chip recruit. Now, Mond can be known as the guy who went off against Clemson twice.
Of course, that’ll be easier said than done. Since that game against A&M, South Carolina was the only team to exceed 26 points against Clemson. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables isn’t taking Round 2 with Mond lightly. He said that the Tigers “won’t face anybody this year better than Mond.”
Mond can prove Venables (and himself) right on Saturday afternoon in Death Valley.