After a long offseason with a lot of national attention on the Aggies’ schedule, it’s time to play some football. Texas A&M kicks off the 2019 campaign against in-state competitor Texas State. Here are five things to look for during the game:
1. The defensive front
The Texas A&M front seven may be this team’s strength as it returns three key contributors from last season. The interior line returns proven starters junior Justin Madubuike, who had three forced fumbles last year, and sophomore Bobby Brown. On the outside, Tyree Johnson looks to continue building momentum after a solid 2018 campaign. At the other end, Michael Clemons returns fresh after redshirting the 2018 season. Behind the Aggies’ defensive line, two of the three starting linebackers — sophomore Anthony Hines and sophomore Ikenna Okeke — come back from redshirting their 2018 seasons as well. Hines, one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits from the class of 2017, is poised to showcase his immense talent now that he is on some fresh legs. Middle linebacker Buddy Johnson is known as one of the SEC’s hardest hitters and looks to lead the talented Aggie front seven.
2. Kellen Mond
Going into his third year, the hype surrounding junior quarterback Kellen Mond is at an all-time high. Last year, Mond competed at a high level against the nation’s best defenses. With a 400-yard performance against Clemson and a six touchdown game against LSU, there should be no doubt where Mond’s potential is. All the noise in summer camp around Mond had to do with his maturity and consistency. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher has a history of developing quarterbacks at the programs he has been with, and it seems the process had evident effects in Aggieland. This team will go as far as Kellen Mond can take it. If he plays to his ceiling, the sky truly is the limit for this team. Despite a 3-8 record last season, Texas State returns 10 of its 11 starters from last season. The Bobcats will be an experienced group to kick off the season against, and they are an opponent that can help gauge just how much Mond has improved.
3. The Green Mile
Returning right tackle junior Carson Green stands at 6 feet, 6 inches, 315 pounds and has already proved himself to be a staple on the line through his past production. “The Green Mile” forms when you look at his neighbor to the left, true freshman right guard Kenyon Green. He is listed at 6 feet, 4 inches, 330 pounds, making him one of the bigger players on the team. Despite being a freshman, Kenyon Green has shown an understanding of the offense, working his way up from third string at the start of fall camp to starter for Thursday’s game. The tandem of these two will pave the way for massive lanes and holes on the right side of the field.
4.The running back rotation
The Aggies appear to be going with a running back by committee philosophy after losing veteran Trayveon Williams to the NFL Draft. The new starting running back, sophomore Jashaun Corbin, has shown flashes of brilliance in the times he would allow Williams to rest during the 2018 season. Corbin looks to produce again with more opportunities and a quality offensive line. Freshman Isaiah Spiller has also garnered a lot of attention with his explosiveness and speed. Also look out for sophomore Cordarrian Richardson. The Memphis, Tennessee product looks poised to be a viable threat in the red zone.
5. Improvement in the secondary
Last year, the secondary’s performance against top-notch teams left a bit to be desired. The Aggies’ four losses last year came when the opponent scored over 28 points, with the opposing quarterbacks averaging 336 passing yards per game. The secondary returns three of last year’s four starters, with true freshman Demani Richardson making his debut. The addition of a highly-touted junior college recruit, cornerback Elijah Blades adds much-needed depth to this group. The secondary is led by senior Charles Oliver and sophomore Leon O’Neal Jr. If the A&M secondary progresses, you can expect considerable improvement from this team.