No. 8 Texas A&M defeated Arkansas 42-31 during its third home game of the season on Halloween night. This is A&M’s first 4-1 season start since 2017 and is ninth consecutive victory against the Razorbacks. Here’s what we learned:
To say senior quarterback Kellen Mond had a good game would be an understatement. Prior to this matchup against the Razorbacks, the signal caller had only 46 rushing yards so far this season. However, Mond almost matched that number with 32 rushing yards from this game alone. In addition, Mond threw three touchdowns and had 260 passing yards.
Mond said he is feeling good about his season so far.
“I had certain goals coming into this season,” Mond said. “It is a tremendous feeling. I’ve worked so hard each and every year to continue to grind.”
There were quite a few defensive milestones during the matchup against the Razorbacks as senior defensive back Myles Jones and senior safety Keldrick Carper both hit 100 career tackles. Additionally, the defense recorded sacks delivered by the A&M defense; one from senior linebacker Buddy Johnson, one from junior defensive tackle Tyree Johnson, one from senior defensive tackle Micheal Clemons and one from junior defensive tackle Bobby Brown III in the fourth quarter.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Jones and Carper are key pieces for the team.
“Those guys are all men making a ton of plays,” Fisher said. “On defense, we were very opportunistic, they got to move the football.”
The orange gloves
Junior safety Leon O’Neal Jr. stepped onto the field ready for Halloween, wearing bright orange gloves to dress up for the occasion. The gloves seemed to do the trick. O’Neal recorded six total tackles and a pass break-up.
Buddy Johnson said O’Neal’s continued improvement is motivation for the rest of the defense .
“Leon, he’s getting better on and off the field, I love it,” Johnson said. “He’s always got to do something extra. So him wearing [orange] gloves for Halloween, we [have] got to be 100 percent behind him.”
Sophomore running back Ainias Smith came out with a bang. In the first quarter, Smith had two touches which resulted in two touchdowns. His first touchdown was a 35-yard pass from Mond, and the second was a 15-yard rushing touchdown. Smith totaled 31 rushing yards on three carries and 67 receiving yards on six catches.
Smith said he entered the game wanting to compete.
“I felt like I was on edge the entire game just because of the environment,” Smith said. “It was a high level competitive game and I wanted to come in and win.”
Another record broken
Following a home game against Florida where he broke A&M’s all-time passing record, Mond broke another record during the matchup against the Razorbacks. Mond now holds the A&M record for total career yards, formerly held by the 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel with 9,989 total career yards. Mond broke the record in the third quarter and concluded the game with 10,015 total career yards.
Mond said while the records are rewarding, they are not the most important aspect to him.
“The records are really, really important,” Mond said. “But I definitely want to have a big impact on and off the field in leading this group of guys.”