No. 5 Texas A&M’s offense has one final chance to impress the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
This chance occurs on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 11 a.m. in A&M’s last regular season game against Tennessee. Should the Aggies win and one of the teams ranked above them loses, the maroon and white will have a chance at the playoffs.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said although the A&M players have never played at Neyland Stadium, all football fields are the same.
“I’ve been there,” Fisher said. “But none of these players have. At the end of the day, their field is 100 yards long… it’ll be the same field. You just have to lock in and play.”
Over the Volunteers’ last seven games, they have only won a single game. This puts Tennessee at a record of 3-6 this season, with its most recent win being against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Dec. 12.
The Aggies have a 7-1 record, with their lone loss of the season being to No. 1 Alabama.
The Volunteers’ pass defense gives up over 264 passing yards per game and is ranked at No. 106 nationally. Tennessee’s rushing defense is more decent, being ranked at No. 34 as a result of only giving up an average of 133 rushing yards per game.
In comparison to the maroon and white’s offense, A&M’s overall offense is ranked at No. 37, also being at No. 28 for rushing offense and No. 67 for passing offense.
This is thanks to the trio of senior quarterback Kellen Mond, sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller and sophomore running back Ainias Smith.
Another player the Tennessee defense will have to look out for is freshman wide receiver Chase Lane, who has 26 receptions for 344 yards and two touchdowns.
For the running backs, Spiller has 151 carries for 897 rushing yards. The 6-foot-1 Spring native averages just under 100 yards per game, making it possible for him to hit 1,000 yards against the Volunteers.
Smith is utilized more as a receiver and has five receiving touchdowns and 410 receiving yards, in addition to 223 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Spiller said the rushing offense is looking to remain steady.
“Being consistent like we have been all season [are my expectations],” Spiller said. “Just coming out today and being focused on practice, we’ll be fine on Saturday.”
As for Mond, the signal caller has shattered multiple records this season, including the A&M records for all-time offensive yards, all-time passing yards and all-time passing touchdowns thrown.
Tennessee’s junior defensive back Bryce Thompson has been a heavy influence for the Volunteers’ defense.
The Irmo, S.C., native has 33 tackles, two interceptions for 18 return yards and one touchdown.
Fisher said the success so far this season is due to strong teamwork, and he is looking to continue utilizing it.
“Our guys have been strong and stayed together,” Fisher said. “That is part of the bond and the trust they have in each other. Hopefully we can finish this thing out the right way. They have done a great job and that is part of the success of a team, the comradery and the commitment and these things the guys are doing together.”