Texas A&M is 3-3 for the first time since 2010.
It's been a rough first half of the season after sustaining losses to two No. 1 programs and a No. 8, but the Aggies still have two more similar matchups, and they all come on the road.
New week, new problems
Each week, there has been an issue with different units, but against No. 1 Alabama, everything fell apart after the first quarter.
Coach Jimbo Fisher preaches excellence in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. Each phase had some low points throughout the contest, but none was worse than the special teams’ attempt to contain returner Jaylen Waddle.
Tackling was sloppy on defense and special teams all afternoon, but the inability to stop Waddle was staggering for A&M. The sophomore wideout returned four punts for 128 yards and brought one back 43 yards to the A&M 33.
To make matters worse, A&M gave away the game in the fourth quarter after a missed blocking assignment led to a blocked punt near the end zone, leading to a scoop-and-score for Alabama.
“That's our team,” Fisher said about whether the special teams cost A&M the game. “We win and lose as a team. There's nothing that costs us a game, except our whole football team and our coaching staff. We're all in this together as one group. So we'll look and evaluate those things.”
Although Mann was trying to get the punts to fall out of bounds, they kept landing in the hands of Waddle, giving the Crimson Tide excellent field position on at least four drives.
Key plays in critical moments
Near the end of the fourth quarter, A&M picked up a quick first down to its own 36 on a drive that could have put the Aggies in reach of the game. On the first down, Rogers hit an out route to the right side, and Kellen Mond’s pass was underthrown. When the Alabama defensive back cracked down on Rogers, he argued with the referee and was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“[It’s] a two-score game,” Fisher said. “I don't know what happened. It didn't look like it was an argument or anything, whatever you say. ... I thought it set us back on a drive that we could have gone down and got some points.”
After setting A&M back 15 yards in its own territory, the offense never recovered, and the Tide would capitalize on its next drive to go up three possessions.
Not all hope is lost for an upset in 2019
The Aggies showed flashes in Saturday’s contest and looked like they had progressed on the offensive side of the ball.
Before the game, A&M was unable to score in the first and third quarters against ranked opponents, and it could not establish a consistent offense.
Against the Tide, A&M moved the ball on many of its drives, and was able to capitalize on five drives throughout the game. In the first quarter, it looked as though the Aggies would be competitive after keeping the Alabama defense out on the field for the majority of the period.
The connection between Mond and tight end Jalen Wydermyer was something that caught some attention against the Tide, with two wide-open touchdowns to cut down the lead late in the contest.
Last season A&M’s biggest threat downfield was tight end Jace Sternberger, and the Aggies may need that going forward.
With Georgia losing at home Saturday, A&M may be able to put together an upset if the Aggies are able to establish a run game and stay consistent with the ball.