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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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ANALYSIS: A&M offense abysmal in loss to Mississippi State

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Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman

Junior wide receiver Christian Kirk had 114 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s 35-14 loss to Mississippi State. 

On Texas A&M’s opening-drive, the Aggies were inches away from taking a quick 7-0 lead, but freshman quarterback Kellen Mond’s pass on a fade down the sideline went straight through the hands of wide receiver Damion Ratley in the end zone, falling incomplete.
The drop was just a foreshadow of what was to come for A&M’s offense in a frustrating 35-14 loss to Mississippi State (6-2, 3-2 SEC) Saturday night at Kyle Field.
In total, the Aggies (5-3, 3-2 SEC) accumulated just 285 yards of offense, which was primarily stagnant and at times seemed incompetent of having any success.
“Obviously our execution was not anywhere it needed to be offensively,” Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We missed the first two big plays, get behind them, overthrow and a drop after starting fast with a turnover.”
In the first half, A&M only mustered a mere 33 yards, the lowest first-half total since 2008, on just 22 plays. The Aggies only gained three first downs, two of which came on one drive and the other on a penalty.
“We didn’t do enough offensively in the first half to really get things done and keep the game where it needed to be,” Sumlin said.
Mond struggled and was constantly flustered by a ferocious State pass rush, which continued to dial up overload blitzes. The freshman quarterback never gained much poise, finishing the night with a sub-par 8-of-26 for 56 yards and threw two interceptions.
“He has some starts under his belt but he is still a true freshman quarterback,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said of Mond. “I think our defensive staff did a good job to put him in some uncomfortable positions over the course of the game and limit what he usually does well.”
Relentless pressure from the Bulldog front seven forced Mond to make errant throws. State finished the night was six quarterback hurries and three sacks.
State’s success penetrating the offensive line and applying constant pressure was something that puzzled right guard Connor Lanfear, who said he felt the offensive line planned well with two weeks to prepare for State.
“They showed us a lot of fronts that we weren’t really anticipating them to bring,”  Lanfear said. “So it took us a little bit to adjust to that and get the correct people blocked.”
When Mond was able to make strong passes, he had minimal help from his receivers, who dropped numerous passes and failed to make critical plays.
“We dropped a touchdown, we had one hit off of us for a pick – it’s not all on the quarterback,” Sumlin said. “In those situations, we’re going to have one-on-one competitive plays … Tonight I don’t know if we made any of them.”
These miscues made the chains hard to move. A&M’s average down and distance on third down was 7.4 yards, and out of 17 third-down attempts, nine were third-and-10 or longer.
“When you’re facing a freshman quarterback [the plan] is to get him in some third and longs,” Mullen said. “The longer the better. The more you can disguise the more confusing looks you can give him. I think we were able to do that on defense tonight.”
Due to this, A&M only ran the ball on third down four times, two of which went for first downs and one for a touchdown.
For the third straight game though, the Aggies were held under 100 rushing yards at 96 on 28 carries. A far cry from the strong ground game A&M boasted in the opening weeks of the season.
Mond went down after a roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter, leading the way for redshirt freshman Nick Starkel entering the game under center.
While Starkel performed better at 8-of-15 for 133 yards and a touchdown, his 90-yard pick-six on the same drive after replacing Mond was an exclamation point to the Aggies’ offensive woes.
Despite Mond not returning to the game after going down, added with Starkel’s play, Sumlin noted that nothing has changed on the depth chart at quarterback for A&M.
Moving forward to Auburn, Lanfear concluded that the Aggies will be sure to study hard in order to try and get back in the win column against the Tigers, whom A&M has yet to defeat at home.
“I guarantee you we’re going to fix what needs to be fixed,” Lanfear said.

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  • Freshman quarterback Kellen Mond scrambles while looking downfield in hopes of finding an open player during the Aggies’ matchup against Mississippi State at Kyle Field. 

    Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman
  • Redshirt freshman Nick Starkel saw action on the field for the first time since fracturing his ankle against UCLA Sept. 3. 

    Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman
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