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

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

The Battalion

The intersection of Bizzell Street and College Avenue on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024.
Farmers fight Hurricane Beryl
Aggies across South Texas left reeling in wake of unexpectedly dangerous storm
J. M. Wise, News Reporter • July 20, 2024
Texas A&M LB Taurean York (21) speaks during the 2024 SEC Media Day at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas on Thursday July 18, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
A&M predicted to finish ninth in SEC football media poll, three Aggies earn preseason honors
Luke White, Sports Editor • July 19, 2024

Texas A&M football is expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference this season, per the SEC football preseason media poll...

Bob Rogers, holding a special edition of The Battalion.
Lyle Lovett, other past students remember Bob Rogers
Shalina SabihJuly 15, 2024

In his various positions, Professor Emeritus Bob Rogers laid down the stepping stones that student journalists at Texas A&M walk today, carving...

Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
Analysis: Chancellor Sharp’s retirement comes with new dilemmas
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • July 2, 2024

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced Monday he will be retiring on June 30, 2025.  A figure notorious in state politics,...

Establishing run game key against Mississippi State

Photo by Photo by Jenny Hollowell

Senior running back Keith Ford scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to help the Aggies earn a comeback win over South Carolina.  Ford had 70 yards on 12 carries during the game.

Things were looking up for Texas A&M around this time last year, as they were (7-1) and ranked No. 4 in the country. The Aggies were headed into a game in which they were heavily favored, playing a subpar Mississippi State squad that had lost three straight SEC games.
A&M had just come off a commanding 42-point win over New Mexico State and its lone blemish on their record was a loss to No. 1 Alabama. Playing at such a high level this game figured to be an easy win, right?
Wrong. The Aggies traveled to Starkville and found themselves trailing 28-14 at the half. Junior quarterback Jake Hubenak entered the game after a Trevor Knight injury and catalyzed the A&M’s air attack. However, the Aggie running backs never got going and finished the game with just 61 yards. This lack of production prevented A&M from completing a comeback in a 35-28 loss.
While the Aggies do not like to dwell on the past, the loss stung a little bit, as it ended the A&M’s chances of making the College Football Playoff and was followed by a post-Alabama slump that had plagued the Aggies for the previous three seasons. Despite last year’s loss, A&M senior running back Keith Ford says their approach to playing Mississippi State this year has not changed.
“We still think about last year but we realize this is a new year and a new team,” Ford said. “We’re not going to treat them any different than we treated Florida and Alabama.”
Ford also said that while there are new players on this year’s team, they are not going to act like they do not remember last year’s game.
“It’s not really a revenge game, but we remember what happened there,” Ford said. “It was a huge loss and I’ll never forget it but it’s more than just vengeance. We rewatch the game when we work out but it’s more than something you can just rewatch, I think about it everyday.”
A huge key for the Aggies to avoid being upset by Mississippi State for the second year in a row will be establishing their run game which has been muted the last two games against strong defensive fronts from Florida and Alabama. The two physical fronts held the Aggies to 83 and 71 yards on the ground, respectively. Mississippi State also presents a physical run defense that has held opponents to an average of just 3.65 yards per carry.
A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said the Aggies are prepared for a dog fight as they are coming off of a very physical bout in The Swamp.
“The Florida game was as physical game as we’ve played in since I’ve been here,” Sumlin said.
Saturday’s contest will likely be extremely physical and Ford says the key to success with the ground game will be being the aggressor from both the running back corps and the offensive linemen.
“Being physical is going to be the main thing. We have to let them know that we’re more physical than they are,” Ford said.
Strong physicality will be vital for the Aggies as Mississippi State will likely stack the box and force freshman quarterback Kellen Mond to throw the ball down the field.
“They know that we can run the ball and they know that our quarterback can run the ball so they’re going to stack the box and play man to pressure our young quarterback to make plays on the perimeter,” Ford said.
The Aggies offensive line struggled against Florida as they were forced to play last week’s physical game without junior offensive lineman Keaton Sutherland as he had a surprise appendectomy. Sumlin thinks there’s “a pretty good chance” that Sutherland will be back this Saturday however, a final decision will be made on Friday. The return of Sutherland would be extremely beneficial for the Aggies as they are going to need all hands on deck in order to penetrate Mississippi State’s stout run defense.
“A healthy Keaton is the best Keaton that we can ask for,” Ford said. “Getting him back out there during this extra week is getting him more healthy and prepared for him to come back out and play with us.”
Also working in the Aggie running backs favor is timing. A&M comes into the game following a much needed bye week after a tough seven week stretch that left some players playing banged up.
“The physicality of the game really beats you up a little bit,” Ford said. “Sometimes you have to play hurt and sometimes you have to play banged up so the bye week is a great time to get extra time in the training room.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *