Last week, the Aggies put themselves back into the win column with a close victory over Ole Miss in Oxford. This week, they face another 3-4 team from Mississippi, as Mississippi looks to gain its first road victory of the season. Here are five things to watch for when the Aggies host the Bulldogs this week.
1. A game in the trenches
As mentioned in Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead’s press conference, the SEC is “a line of scrimmage league,” in which the team that wins the game is the one with the more physically demanding offensive and defensive lines. However, this matchup sees two teams whose offensive lines have left much to be desired, with both giving up nearly three sacks per game this season. On the defensive side of the ball, both the Aggies and Bulldogs have struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Last week, A&M had three sacks against Ole Miss for a season total of 12, while Mississippi State recorded three of its own against LSU to take its sack total to 13.
2. The return of Kylin Hill?
Every good rushing attack needs a great tailback, and through the first stretch of the season, the Bulldogs found a productive rusher in Kylin Hill. In their first four matchups, Hill became a focal point of the offense, rushing for over 100 yards per game and totaling 551 yards at over six yards per rushing attempt. But ever since the Kentucky game, Hill has mostly disappeared into the stat sheet, only totaling 92 rushing yards at 2.1 yards per attempt over the last three games. With Moorhead committed to getting Hill going — and A&M’s rushing defense allowing 4.3 yards per attempt — Mississippi State will try to make the most of the tailback’s talents.
3. A chance to sweep Mississippi
Since joining the SEC, the Aggies are 3-4 against Mississippi State, with the Bulldogs winning the last three matchups. After A&M’s win against Ole Miss, a victory against the Bulldogs would give the Aggies something they haven’t had since Johnny Manziel was in school — a solid sweep of Mississippi teams. With Golden Gate Casino sportsbook listing A&M as a 10-point favorite, this game gives the Aggies the best opportunity in years to claim victory against the Bulldogs.
4. Mond’s chance to rebound
Against Ole Miss, A&M quarterback Kellen Mond had his worst statistical performances of the season, completing only 57 percent of his passes for 172 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Now back in College Station, look for Mond to rebound against a weak Bulldog passing defense that allows 244 passing yards per game. With A&M’s receivers finding their footing in this offense, including the emergence of freshmen like Jalen Wydermyer and Ainias Smith, the Aggies will look to have a much more potent passing attack.
5. Another dual-threat quarterback
One week after facing off against Ole Miss’ dual-threat quarterbacks John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral, the Aggies face a similar opponent in freshman Garrett Shrader. Similar to his Rebel counterparts, Shrader has displayed the ability to run and throw well in his four starts this season. In Mississippi State’s last game against LSU, Shrader threw for a career-high 238 yards while also rushing for 66 yards against a tough Tigers defense. Look for A&M to try and limit Shrader’s ability on the ground like it did against the Rebels.