Texas A&M is set to face Alabama after both teams had bye weeks. This game will prove to be another test in the Aggies’ daunting schedule as this will be the second top-tier team A&M has faced this season.
The No. 24 Aggies have struggled against ranked opponents this season, with losses to No. 2 Clemson and No. 12 Auburn. The Crimson Tide has reclaimed its spot at No. 1, and the Aggies have used their time during the bye week to return to the fundamentals, correcting issues they faced in the beginning of the season.
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said his team returned to fall camp-style practices last week to help refine the Aggies’ technique for the Alabama game.
“We went back and competed very hard and technically got better,” Fisher said. “We went back to a lot of drills that let them go back to the fundamentals and not think about scheme. You really can technically do things and make things a better habit than they were before, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
The Tide has shown incredible strength this season, especially offensively, and is ranked No. 4 in total offense nationally. A leading factor in this production is junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is putting together a near-perfect start to the season. Tagovailoa has already accumulated 1,718 yards with 23 touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition to phenomenal quarterback play, Alabama holds a host of talented receivers and running backs, along with a dominant offensive line.
This offense shows few weaknesses, and A&M sophomore defensive tackle Bobby Brown said the Aggies will need to limit mistakes on Saturday.
“You’ve got to play football,’’ Brown said. “Alabama doesn’t make many mistakes. You’ve got to basically match everything. You’ve got to match their game and be able to play your own game.”
A&M will need to play a near-perfect game in order to compete with Alabama, and that means the Aggies will need to find fast improvement, especially in the offense.
Offensively, A&M ranks 58th nationally and averages 426 yards a game. However, only 133 of those yards come on the ground as the Aggies are only 92nd nationally in rushing offense. It is crucial that A&M opens up the ground game against the Tide. The team cannot afford to force junior quarterback Kellen Mond to do it all — especially against a strong secondary like Alabama’s.
Mond has thrown for 1,333 yards but has only 10 touchdowns to four interceptions. The Aggies will likely be forced to play this game in the air, and Mond said he will need to play a career game for the Aggies.
A&M will need to limit interceptions against Alabama, as the Aggies have struggled with this in recent years against the Tide. That, and converting red zone drives into points, will be the key to the game for A&M.
“Obviously they’re a really good team defensively, and they’re disciplined,” Mond said. “They make plays on the defensive side of the ball, and when you give Tua and their offense that capability and that type of swing of momentum, they usually capitalize off of that, so it will be really important for us to limit turnovers and convert in the red zone.”
Kickoff for the matchup between the Aggies and the Crimson Tide is set for 2:30 p.m. at Kyle Field in College Station. The game will be televised on CBS.