The Aggies finally managed to win two games in a row, following up their road victory over Ole Miss by easily defeating Mississippi State 49-30 at Kyle Field. This week, A&M faces its third 3-4 team in a row as the Aggies host UTSA. The Roadrunners are coming to College Station after a close victory over Rice last weekend. Here are five things to watch for as A&M takes on this non-conference opponent.
1. Kellen Mond
Against Mississippi State, junior quarterback Kellen Mond rebounded from his previously lackluster performances with one of the strongest outputs of his career, completing over 70 percent of his passes for 234 yards and throwing three touchdowns with no interceptions. Mond was poised and collected behind an improved offensive line that allowed him to connect with his receivers all day. Mond’s pocket presence, as well as his running ability over the last three games, has made him an offensive nightmare for opposing defenses. With Mond finding a rhythm and UTSA’s defense looking abysmal, expect the A&M quarterback to get going early and often.
2. Strong Rushing Attack
Another element of the A&M team on display against Mississippi State was the Aggies’ rushing attack, which ran all over the Bulldogs. Between Mond’s ability to score and freshman tailback Isaiah Spiller’s firm control of the backfield, the Aggies have built a dependable rush game over the last three games that has seen steady improvement, with the Aggies totaling 207 yards on the ground against Mississippi State. With UTSA’s dismal ability to stop the run, giving up an average of 210 yards per game and 5.56 yards per attempt, the Aggies should have no problem attacking the Roadrunners’ defense for huge gains on the ground.
3. Improving Pass Rush and the Secondary
Since the bye week three weeks ago, the Aggie defense has seen a significant increase in its pass-rushing success, finishing with six sacks over the last three games. In addition to sack totals, the defense has improved at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which has allowed the secondary to secure more turnovers, as it did against Ole Miss and Mississippi State. With starting quarterback Frank Harris missing from UTSA’s offense. look for the Aggies to pounce on the Roadrunners and continue to build on their passing defense.
4. Freshmen rising to the occasion
In addition to Spiller’s growth in the backfield, the Aggies have seen consistent progress from freshmen on both sides of the ball. Tight end Jalen Wydermyer has become an integral part of this Aggie passing attack, leading the team with five touchdowns this season and collecting 60 yards in each of the last two games. Wide receiver Ainias Smith has become a weapon for Mond while also serving as the team’s punt returner. On the other side of the ball, defensive back Demani Richardson led the Aggies in tackles against the Bulldogs with seven, while lineman DeMarvin Leal finished with six tackles of his own. Expect to see more freshmen playing for the Aggies, including quarterback Zach Calzada.
5. Aggies’ strength against non-Power Five teams
Historically, A&M has dominated non-Power Five competition, winning by double-digit margins in every contest. Since 2015, the Aggies have won all 13 games they’ve played against non-Power Five competition with a combined score of 614-156, including a 23-10 victory over UTSA in 2016. With Jimbo Fisher at the helm of the program, A&M has won every non-Power Five matchup by at least 20 points, with the closest score coming from the Aggies’ 41-20 victors over then-ranked UAB 41-20 in 2018. Under these circumstances, and with momentum on the Aggies’ side, look for A&M to overpower UTSA in this matchup.