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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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5 things to watch for during A&M-Mississippi State

Photo by Photo by Angelina Alcantar

Sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns against Florida.

Texas A&M’s 41-38 victory over No. 4 Florida last week was arguably the team’s biggest win of the Jimbo Fisher era. The Aggies hope to capitalize on that momentum as they face Mississippi State on the road this week. Here are five things to consider in Saturday’s matchup against the Bulldogs:
1. Offense finding its groove
Senior quarterback Kellen Mond’s record-breaking performance in last week’s win over Florida earned him the honor of SEC co-Offensive Player of the Week. Mond is now A&M’s all-time leading passer and the first Aggie to earn a title like that since running back Trayveon Williams in 2018. A&M’s offense seems to be finding its groove as the veteran signal caller demonstrated confidence, poise and accuracy against the Gators and was well protected by an outstanding performance from the offensive line. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs’ No. 12 ranked defense will be no easy opponent in this week’s matchup.
2. Leal’s presence
Sophomore defensive end DeMarvin Leal has proven to be a disruptive member of A&M’s defense as he has accumulated two turnovers this season. Leal recorded his first career interception against Alabama and recovered a fumble last week against Florida. Mississippi State’s offense struggled severely in last week’s 24-2 loss to Kentucky, with only 295 total offensive yards recorded and six interceptions. If the Bulldogs’ offense looks anything like it did last week, Leal and other members of the Aggie defense could have a monumental day at Davis-Wade stadium. 
3. Wild card factors
The Aggies are approaching the unranked team with confidence after upsetting a top-five team last week, while the Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back losses. However, Mississippi State cannot be underestimated because of  their stunning victory over LSU, the reigning national champions, in its season opener and debut of head coach Mike Leach.
4. Johnson’s defense
Senior linebacker Buddy Johnson has became an incredible defensive player and team leader. Johnson led the defense in tackles in all three games this season and managed to cause a fumble that led to a victory over Florida last week. While A&M’s secondary will have to execute disciplined zone coverage against a pass-heavy Mississippi State offense, the defensive line should also anticipate the utilization of the Bulldogs’ offensive weapon in running back Kylin Hill — especially considering their recent passing-game inconsistencies.
5. Isaiah Spiller
A&M’s offense would look much different without sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller. With a year of experience under his belt, Spiller leads the SEC in yards per carry (6.9), yards after contact (256) and forced missed tackles (17). Spiller’s physicality, coachability and maturity allow him to be efficient and explosive on the ground. Although the ball carrier rushed for 174 yards and had two touchdowns last week against Florida, Mississippi State’s defensive line might pose a threat to Spiller’s ability to rush downfield as it has held its last three opponents to 227 yards on the ground for the fifth-ranked run defense in the nation. Shutting down the Aggies’ run game could be a key factor in the Bulldogs’ ability to persevere.

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