With a matchup against No. 1 Alabama looming, Texas A&M is using the bye week to reset before continuing a tough schedule.
The Aggies sit at 3-2, and with tough losses to then-No. 1 Clemson and then-No. 8 Auburn, the team said they are focusing on the fundamentals of their game moving forward into the rest of the season.
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said the bye week is a chance for the team to recover from and fix mistakes that they have made thus far.
“It's a work week for us to fundamentally get better,” Fisher said. “It came at a great time. What we need to focus on this week is ourselves, our fundamentals, our mental toughness, our competitive nature and to practice at a high level so we can create the habits we have to.”
There’s no time for the Aggies to relax on this bye week as they’re coming off a win over Arkansas, junior punter Braden Mann said.
“It’s a rest and reload,” Mann said. “I don’t think it’s a relax; it’s more of a reload week. We have a week of not playing, so we’ve just got to come in and know that it’s still a work week. It just gives us two weeks to get a lot of work in, get a lot of corrections made and work on ourselves for a week.”
Fisher said his approach to the bye week, and practice in general, is to keep pushing the players to focus on the basic components of their game.
“When you look at the teams that win championships, they did ordinary things better and more consistently than anybody else,” Fisher said. “That's what we have to do. We have to coach it that way, be that way and keep doing it over and over and over and over until it sinks in.”
Mann said the team is taking the week seriously and fixing issues from Saturday’s win over Arkansas.
“This week’s a work week, going into corrections and getting stuff fixed for the following week,” Mann said. “There’s a lot we could have done better, but a win’s a win so we’re not going to be disappointed.”
Those issues need to be resolved by the time A&M faces its next opponent, which has given the team trouble in the past, junior defensive lineman Justin Madubuike said.
“Alabama is a great team,” Madubuike said. “You know what they bring when they come to the field and play. This week for us to get our bodies right and reiterate the little things to get better at is a great thing for us.”
The Aggies have struggled in several of their games this season, barely squeezing out a win over Arkansas on Saturday. Improving in the fundamental aspects of the game is the team’s focus for the bye week, Fisher said.
“It’s hard for guys to expand and do new things if your fundamentals and the consistency level aren’t where they need to be because that makes you drift even more,” Fisher said. “You need to be fundamentally sound before we go add [anything else].”
Fisher said introducing new schemes on the bye week is much like renovating a house.
“Say you want to add something to your house but the infrastructure isn’t done; you want to hang pictures but the drywall ain’t sound,” Fisher said. “You may hang a picture on it, but you may punch a hole through it too. It’s hard to keep expanding [when the foundation isn’t right], and some basic [things] aren't exactly the way we want them.”