No. 16 Texas A&M is looking to bounce back after a tough road loss to the top ranked Clemson Tigers. A win at home over an in-state opponent could be a big confidence boost for the team as they prepare for conference play. Here are three things to be on the look out for as the Aggies take on Lamar.
1. Kellen Mond
A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond struggled to lead the A&M offense with any momentum against Clemson. Mond was clearly shaken throughout the game, going 24-of-42 passing with only 236 yards, an interception and a fumble. He accounted for the Aggies’ only touchdown late in the fourth quarter but was slow with any other production as he struggled with accuracy issues, clock management and pocket presence. A matchup against an FCS opponent will give Mond a chance to bounce back with big yards and scoring opportunities. This is an opportunity to improve his confidence, which will be crucial in his development, especially with conference play and a daunting schedule on the horizon.
2. Isaiah Spiller
A&M received difficult news early in the week with the announcement of starting sophomore tailback Jashaun Corbin’s injury. Corbin will miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury, forcing true freshman Isaiah Spiller to fill the starting role. Spiller rushed for 106 yards during his debut game in the Aggies’ season opener against Texas State, and he’s accumulated 152 all-purpose yards in two games. He earned much praise in the offseason from head coach Jimbo Fisher, and it will be interesting to see if Spiller will be ready to take the reins of the team’s rushing attack.
3. The Receiving Corps
Mond was not solely to blame for last week’s passing struggles. His receivers did little with what he gave them as they dropped seven passes and struggled against the Tigers’ secondary. The receivers have shown promise, especially in their first game against Texas State. In the season opener, the Aggies had three touchdown receptions with sophomore Quartney Davis and junior Jhamon Ausbon gaining 85 and 75 yards, respectively. This game could offer the receiving corps the same kind of confidence boost it presents for Mond.
4. Further Improvement from the Secondary
A bright spot of A&M’s season thus far has been the improvement seen out of the defensive secondary. The unit finished 2018 ranked 107th nationally and was the crutch of an otherwise stellar defense. However, in two games this season, the secondary has already forced five interceptions compared to the seven it forced last year, and the unit is currently ranked 88th nationally. The secondary also gave the Heisman contending quarterback Trevor Lawrence a hard time in the Aggies game against Clemson. It gave up 268 yards and one touchdown to Lawrence and forced an interception. While these stats are far from perfect, they speak highly of a young unit that had such a daunting task to face. The upcoming matchup with Lamar will be another chance for the secondary to force turnovers, gain needed experience reading offenses and perfect their overall play.
5. Dealing with Injuries
A big issue A&M faced while playing Clemson was a seemingly constant onslaught of injuries. Several players went down during the game with issues ranging from minor to severe. As mentioned, Corbin suffered a season ending hamstring injury, while Kellen Mond was seen limping throughout the second half, and defensive linemen juniors Justin Madubuike and Jayden Peevy went down along with many others. It will be interesting to see how Fisher treats the game with Lamar in terms of injuries with conference play beginning the following week. Expect to see many starters exit the game early if the Aggies run away with it early on.