For the first time this season, the Aggies did what A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has been preaching about all year — making key plays in critical moments.
Two second-half turnovers turned the tide for A&M, starting with a scoop-and-score by linebacker Buddy Johnson on Ole Miss’ second drive that claimed the lead.
Similarly, tailback Isaiah Spiller made a 22-yard touchdown run on A&M’s last drive to seal the contest, with quarterback Kellen Mond making a key checkdown on the previous play to put the Aggies in scoring position.
Establishing the run game
The Aggies’ run game has been practically nonexistent in every Power 5 matchup this season, and it finally got back on track with a pair of game-changing performances from Spiller and Mond.
Spiller’s 78 rushing yards marked his highest total since playing Lamar in week 3, and the most he’s put up against a Power 5 opponent this season. It was also the first time that Spiller didn’t fumble the ball in the last three games.
“A lot of times for freshmen like that, it’s a confidence builder,” Mond said.
The most successful runs from Mond and Spiller utilized screen plays where the backs would run off the edges, finding space along the sidelines to gain significant yardage. Since the season started, A&M has been stymied in the run game, as the Aggies have struggled to make gaps wide enough to get through.
A&M needs to keep up consistency in the run game from Mond and Spiller if it wants to be competitive in upcoming conference matchups.
Jalen Wydermyer is exactly what A&M’s offense needed
After catching two touchdown passes from Mond against Alabama a week ago, the freshman tight end is one of the emerging young talents in the A&M offense.
For the first time this season, Wydermyer led the Aggies in receiving yards with 67, marking his season-high for yards in a game. With tight end Glenn Beal out with an injury, Wydermyer put together another great performance.
With A&M’s inconsistent run game, the offense will need as much help as it can get from new players like Wydermyer and wide receiver Ainias Smith in third-and-long situations.
“Coach [Fisher] just made blind calls that got the ball out of my hands quick,” Mond said. “Jalen was able to find good leverages and find open seams, so we were able to get him the ball a lot this week.”
Freshmen making an impact
Over the course of the offseason and the regular season there has been a couple of questions: Can the freshmen make up quality depth? And can they make a significant impact in major games?
Nine freshmen took the field at Ole Miss Saturday, with six of them making the start against the Rebels after the Aggies sustained several injuries to key starters.
A&M’s depth is being made up with the talented freshman class that Fisher brought in, with many of them making an immediate impact. Right guard Kenyon Green and defensive back Demani Richardson have started every game this season for A&M, and Spiller has been a key part of the running game all year.
“This is why I say you can never have enough depth,” Fisher said. “That’s why your freshmen and all of those young guys have to keep developing as the year goes on — especially in a league that is this physical, and in any league. But you need those bodies to be able to do it and play quality football.”