What to watch: Auburn vs. Texas A&M edition
Auburn welcomes the Texas A&M Aggies (6-1) to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the ninth game of their 2020 schedule. The Tigers are looking to bounce back from an uninspiring loss to Alabama, while Texas A&M hopes to continue their impressive season and make their way into the College Football Playoff.
Texas A&M is led by Jimbo Fisher, a former Auburn assistant, in his third season as the head man for the Aggies. Fisher has underwhelmed many in his first two seasons, so the success of the 2020 campaign so far has been much needed. This season the Aggies only loss was to Alabama early in the year, and they boast one of the best wins in the SEC this year, a 41-38 victory over the Florida Gators.
Take a look at three things which will determine if Auburn can bounce back from a disappointing loss last week or if the Aggies can continue their march toward a top-4 CFP ranking.
Texas A&M’s offense is led by senior quarterback Kellen Mond. Although it is only his fourth season, it seems as if Mond has been in College Station for a decade. Over his four seasons as the Aggies’ quarterback, Mond’s performance has been something of a roller coaster ride.
Kellen Mond is certainly talented and capable of making any play that the Aggies’ coaching staff asks of him. However, it has been a lack of consistency from Mond that has put a limit on the Aggies’ ceiling the past few seasons. On days that Mond is locked in, he gives Texas A&M a very good chance to win.
Mond has not set the world on fire this year, completing only about 59% of his passes and throwing for roughly 225 yards per game. But, the big improvement in 2020 has been his ability to avoid turning the ball over, as he has only thrown two interceptions this season. Whether or not Auburn can make Kellen Mond uncomfortable and force him to make costly errors will be a determining factor in today’s matchup.
Auburn O-Line vs. Texas A&M D-Line
Auburn’s offensive line has been a question mark all season. The group had a very rough start to the year (as many expected), but seemed to find their footing and form continuity as the season moved on. However, during the Tennessee game both starting offensive tackles were injured and that has forced reshuffling of some players and an introduction of newcomers.
It is always difficult to make those changes, but the Texas A&M defensive front is not a group that you want to have to try and find answers against. The Aggies are second in the SEC in sacks per game and first in tackles for loss per game. Texas A&M has done a very good job of creating negative plays for opposing offenses all season. The Auburn offensive line must find a way to at least stalemate the the Aggies defensive line in order to have a chance to win the game.
Can Auburn slow down Isaiah Spiller?
Auburn has faced three of the top four rushers in the SEC already this season. Those three backs combined to average 118 yards per game on over 6.5 yards per carry and all scored at least one touchdown. Today, the Tigers face the rusher tied for the lead in rushing yards per game in sophomore standout tailback Isaiah Spiller.
Spiller has proven to be a strong and elusive runner that is capable of making defenders miss and also outracing defenses for breakaway plays. The Auburn defense will have their hands full against Spiller and must bounce back after a tough week against Alabama’s star running back Najee Harris. The Tigers defenders must be up for the challenge and set the tone for the team by stopping Spiller early and often if they want to emerge victorious against Texas A&M.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw