The Aggies suffer from a lack of depth at the running back position.
It is a problem that has plagued them since losing sophomore Jashaun Corbin to a hamstring injury against Clemson, but it was especially apparent in the first three quarters against Ole Miss.
Going into the fourth quarter, Texas A&M had only 87 rushing yards, with junior quarterback Kellen Mond accounting for 23.
In the fourth quarter, the Aggies managed to find some momentum on the ground and almost doubled their game total, with 78 of their total rushing yards coming in the final quarter. The defense also improved in the fourth quarter, holding Ole Miss to only nine rushing yards to close out the game.
As a result, the Aggies demonstrated a balanced offensive attack with 175 passing yards and 165 rushing yards.
Meanwhile, the Rebels outran A&M, climbing to a game total of 250 rushing yards, while only managing 155 passing yards.
The difference between the two teams’ ability to find success on the ground comes at the running back position.
While seven Rebels contributed to the team’s rushing total, four of them are running backs.
The Rebels’ freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee typically leads the offense on the ground; however, the A&M defense held him to only 38 yards on 13 attempts, forcing Ole Miss to rely on several running backs to supplement the run.
Jerrion Ealy led the way for the Rebels with 80 yards on six carries. Scottie Phillips, Snoop Conner and Tylan Knight combined for 124 yards, while redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral added five and freshman wide receiver Dannis Jackson had three.
Meanwhile, the Aggies have only three running backs listed on their depth chart: freshman Isaiah Spiller and sophomores Jacob Kibodi and Cordarrian Richardson. Only one of those had carries against Ole Miss before the fourth quarter, while Kibodi didn’t record any touches.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Richardson had his first carry of the game, and his fifth of the season. He ended the game with five yards on two carries.
Spiller bolstered the Aggies’ ground attack throughout much of the game, ending the night with 78 yards on 16 attempts. After posting only 27 yards against Alabama, the freshman has seen much improvement since the beginning of the season, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said.
“Isaiah is getting a feel for it,” Fisher said. “He’s getting better and better at what he’s doing.”
The Aggies were almost hit with another big loss in the first quarter as Spiller went to the sideline with an injury; however, he returned a few plays later.
Fisher said it is imperative to have depth at all positions for moments such as that.
“You can never have enough depth,” Fisher said. “And the quality [of play], that’s why your freshmen and all those young guys have to keep developing as the year goes on. Especially in a league that’s this physical, you need those bodies to be able to do it and play quality football.”
Junior quarterback Kellen Mond came close to leading the Aggies in rushing for the third time this season, accounting for 76 yards on 15 carries. A&M junior wide receiver Quartney Davis added one carry for 15 yards in the first quarter.
While A&M’s rushing attack still has room to improve, it found success against the Rebels, Fisher said.
“We found some good running game tonight,” Fisher said. “[We] ran the ball with the backs, had some good runs.”