Texas A&M set high expectations going into Saturday’s matchup against No. 1 Clemson, and the Aggies were unable to come through on their promises, falling 24-10.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
A&M offense was unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities
The Texas A&M offense struggled to garner much momentum against the Tigers, accumulating only 289 yards to Clemson’s 389.
The Aggies had some success rushing in the first quarter, setting the pace and taking control of the game; however, they were unable to convert that into points.
After the first quarter, A&M saw a large dip in production. Clemson allowed the Aggies to accumulate only 18 rushing yards in the second quarter, also holding them to only 17 passing yards.
The Clemson defense was efficient at keeping the Aggies out of the red zone and allowed A&M only two successful red zone attempts, with one of those coming in the final seconds of the game. A&M’s only other drive into the red zone ended in an interception on the one-yard line.
“[They] made critical plays when they had to make critical plays,” Fisher told 12thman.com. “Our guys, I thought we played hard, [but] I didn’t think we played particularly well at times. We had opportunities to make plays but you have to make critical plays at critical moments.”
Mond struggles in Death Valley
A&M quarterback Kellen Mond struggled to settle in at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, as he was 24-of-42 with 236 passing yards — a number that seems abysmal compared to the 430 passing yards he managed to rack up during last year’s game.
Mond also made several plays that proved disastrous for the Aggies. Though it came relatively early in the game, Mond’s fumble in the second quarter was the final nail in the coffin for A&M as it squashed any momentum they had managed to scrape together.
When the Aggies finally managed to put together a drive deep into Clemson territory early in the fourth quarter, an interception in the red zone killed it and effectively gave the Tigers the 24-10 win.
“We couldn't get it rolling,” Mond told 12thman.com. “We had our plays. I was in the red zone once, threw an interception. I had a key fumble on our side of the 50, just plays that I could make a lot better.”
Injuries and penalties galore
The Aggies were plagued by a mix of bad luck and sloppy play against the Tigers. Six players spent time sidelined for various injuries: junior defensive tackle Jayden Peevy, junior defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, junior cornerback Elijiah Blades, sophomore defensive tackle Bobby Brown, sophomore running back Jashaun Corbin, and sophomore defensive end Max Wright.
The Aggies had nine penalties for 85 yards throughout the game, including four false starts. Clemson had only four penalties for 30 yards.
"It's frustrating because that's what Coach Fisher harps on is not beating ourselves and that's one thing we did today,” junior linebacker Buddy Johnson told 12thman.com. “We had a lot of penalties and we've got to work on that. We can't have that if we want to win championships."