No. 5 Texas A&M defeated Auburn 31-20 during its first road game since Nov. 7. This is the first time the Aggies have defeated the Tigers since A&M coach Jimbo Fisher joined the program, with the last victory over Auburn having been in 2016. Here’s what we learned.
In A&M’s most recent game against LSU, senior quarterback Kellen Mond had a less-than-dominant performance, only posting a total of 132 yards and throwing 23 incomplete passes. Against the Auburn Tigers, the signal caller threw for 196 yards and added 60 rushing yards.
Mond said A&M looks at every week as a clean slate.
“Every week we go into a game,” Mond said. “We know what we’re capable of and we just go out every play and try and execute. Obviously today we weren’t perfect or we would have scored every time we touched the ball. There’s always things to learn from.”
A&M got off to a fast start, scoring on its first drive with a 10-yard pass to sophomore tight end Jalen Wydermyer. The Dickinson native received two touchdowns and 89 yards and was the game leader in receiving yards. Wydermyer’s first touchdown of the game also set the program record for most touchdowns scored by an A&M tight end.
Wydermyer said the 10-yard catch was one of his highlights.
“I was wide open running down the seam,” Wydermyer said. “I didn’t see the dude until the ball got there. And then I saw it go right through his hands and I was like, ‘I’ll take that.’ I just kept my eyes on the ball and secured it for a touchdown.”
Early on in the game during the second quarter, junior placekicker Seth Small missed a 28-yard field goal. Later on, the Auburn Tigers scored a touchdown and extra point to take the lead. However, on a fourth-and-1 from the 16-yard line, Fisher chose to have Small attempt another field goal rather than attempt the conversion. Small shook off the missed kick and made the 32-yard field goal to extend A&M’s lead to 31-20.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he trusted Small despite his earlier miscue.
“It was the right thing to do,” Fisher said. “I watch him every day, I know what he does, I know how he misses. He doesn’t miss much, so he got that one out of his system and I knew the next one would be good.”
Although A&M’s offense performed poorly during its last game against LSU, the defense carried and allowed the Aggies to get away with the victory. Against Auburn, this was not the case. Formerly known as the Wrecking Crew a few decades ago, A&M’s defense allowed Auburn to rush for 196 yards and obtain 144 receiving yards. However, a highlight for the A&M defense was the fourth quarter, as it did not allow the Tigers to put any points on the scoreboard.
Senior linebacker Buddy Johnson said the early kickoff played a role in the defense’s slow start.
“I think we started slow,” Johnson said. “But we started to pick it up; the more we got comfortable, the more we were able to make plays. Some guys stepped up big tonight and we need them to keep doing that for us.”
Freshman running back Devon Achane was a key player in the matchup against Auburn. Posting 99 rushing yards and averaging 11 yards a carry, he made himself known to the Auburn defense. However, Achane couldn’t be stopped and was relied upon by the A&M offense.
Fisher said Achane has worked hard to earn his role against Auburn.
“He’s practiced that way,” Fisher said. “He’s earned it. He’s played his tail off. He gives a one-two punch, keeps him fresh for the things he did. [I’m] very proud of him and his development and we’re going to need him down the road.”