BATON ROUGE, La. — As the popular children’s fable goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”
That was not the case for Texas A&M in Death Valley on Saturday as the No. 2 LSU Tigers climbed to a first-half lead of 31-0 that the Aggies could not recover from, falling 50-7 on the road.
By the end of the first quarter, A&M had 18 total yards to LSU’s 240. All but one of Joe Burrow’s passes were over 10 yards, whereas Kellen Mond was 2-of-6, with completions on passes of 12 and two yards.
Junior linebacker Buddy Johnson said the defense’s inability to stop the big plays cost them the game.
“This game is about being able to step up and make those plays,” Johnson said. “We just weren’t able to do that.”
A&M’s offense improved slightly from its slow first quarter, with 90 third-quarter yards helping them to a game total of 169. Ninety-seven of those yards came through the air; however, a single play in the third quarter contributed just under half of them.
On a third-and-1 from A&M’s 34-yard line, junior quarterback Kellen Mond connected with freshman running back Isaiah Spiller for a 45-yard run that temporarily sparked the offense. The Aggies finished off that drive with their only score of the night — a one-yard rush by Spiller.
The Aggies posted a season-low 169 offensive yards, directly off their previous season-low of 273 yards against Georgia.
“The offense just wasn’t on point today,” Mond said. “Whether it was me or anybody else, we have to be better.”
The run game, though slightly improved from the minus-1 yard it had against Georgia, accumulated only 72 yards on the ground on Saturday.
“We couldn’t get the running game going,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We couldn’t get the first downs. In the second half we got a couple nice things going and got established, but we just couldn’t get there.”
LSU’s lopsided victory was preceded by talk from the Tigers of getting revenge for last year’s defeat. Mond said LSU’s chatter doesn’t affect the way the Aggies feel about the loss.
“Talk or no talk, obviously we’re disappointed we came out and played the way we did,” Mond said. “I don’t think the talk added any more on us.”
With the loss, the Aggies fall to 7-5 on the season and await an announcement regarding a bowl game in late December.
Fisher said practices leading up to the bowl game will emphasize the fast start A&M has struggled to find throughout the season.
“You have to start practice that way,” Fisher said. “We’ve tried to emphasize that the last three weeks, and we have until the last two weeks. We hadn’t done it either week.”
While the slow starts had plagued A&M earlier in the season, those problems seemed to be on the mend since the Aggies took on Ole Miss. Johnson said A&M’s two previous games have felt like a step back from the team’s midseason success.
“It doesn’t change the perception, but it would have been a big difference,” Johnson said. “It was like you were climbing the ladder and you fell down the ladder. It was a big lesson for us.”
Fisher said while disappointing, Saturday’s loss is one that the Aggies will remember for a while.
“You can’t look past it,” Fisher said. “You have to learn from it. You can’t dwell on it; you have to understand what happened, why it happened and not let it happen again. You have to learn from those things, but eventually you have to move past it. You don’t throw it in the wash. A lot of people say that, but I don’t believe in that.”