Texas A&M’s 42-31 win over Arkansas last week marked the team’s ninth consecutive victory over the Razorbacks. This week, the seventh-ranked Aggies hope to keep their six-year winning streak alive against their cross-division rival South Carolina. Here are five things to watch for as A&M travels to Columbia to face the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7.
1. Mond making his mark
This season, senior quarterback Kellen Mond is rewriting A&M’s history books by breaking multiple school records. The play caller surpassed 10,000 yards of total offense in last week’s game and became A&M’s career total offensive yardage leader, formerly held by 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Now midway through the season, Mond has accumulated 10,015 total career yards, 1,244 of which are from this season with 12 passing touchdowns With at least five games remaining this season, Mond has several more records within reach.
2. Third down success
A&M currently holds the highest third down conversion percentage in the NCAA with 58.7 percent. While the ability to convert starts with strong protection from the offensive line, a quarterback’s accuracy and reliability are also influential factors — Mond is currently completing 64 percent of his passes. Additionally, having the option to move the chains either on the ground or through the air is a huge advantage because it creates diversity in play-calling and allows success in those critical downs.
3. South Carolina strengths and struggles
South Carolina sophomore running back Kevin Harris leads the Gamecocks with 535 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this season and is ranked 18th nationally in rushing yards. Harris is a viable weapon that has helped South Carolina accumulate over 400 total yards each game, but the offensive line has allowed 16 sacks this season. The Gamecocks’ offensive line must have a much-improved performance in order to protect quarterback Collin Hill from A&M’s dominant defensive line, which has claimed 14 sacks for a total loss of 93 yards this season.
4. Maroon Goons
A&M’s offensive line has not allowed a sack in four straight games and leads the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. Consequently, senior right guard Carson Green was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Aggies’ win over Arkansas. The seasoned veterans that make up the offensive line have evolved into a cohesive unit and are a testament to A&M coach Jimbo Fisher’s declaration that there is no substitute for experience. The offensive line deserves credit for allowing the Aggies to average 464 offensive yards per game due to its unwavering commitment to blocking up front and battling in the trenches.
5. New offensive tools
A&M fans were eager to see junior wide receiver Hezekiah Jones take the field last week for the first time since 2018 after suffering a ruptured achilles during 2019 fall camp. Jones accumulated 47 yards on five receptions against the Razorbacks and demonstrated his longtime chemistry with quarterback Kellen Mond. A&M’s freshman running back Devon Achane recently made his collegiate debut and has recorded 59 yards and one touchdown. Jones and Achane are valuable offensive tools that provide additional depth in A&M’s offense and could emerge as leaders as the season progresses.