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Looking to the road ahead

Head+Coach+Kevin+Sumlin+did+not+reveal+the+starting+quarterback+for+Saturdays+game+against+Nicholls+State.
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Head Coach Kevin Sumlin did not reveal the starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Nicholls State.

After a tough defeat, the first thing on an athlete’s mind is when they can get back on the field and get back to work to improve and avenge their shortcomings.
Unfortunately, this is not possible for quarterback Nick Starkel and defensive back Donovan Wilson, both of whom had surgery to repair a fractured ankle and left foot, respectively. There is no timetable for the return of either of these two players and their return this season is questionable, leaving big shoes to fill for whoever head coach Kevin Sumlin decides to start in their place.
True freshman Kellen Mond played a couple of series in the first half before taking over for Starkel in the second half after Starkel went down. Mond’s lack of experience at the collegiate level showed, as he completed only three out of his 17 passes for 27 yards. Despite Mond’s sub-par start as an Aggie, junior receiver Christian Kirk is confident Mond will continue to progress and come into his own.
“He’s going to have to do a great job in his game preparation and just go out there and execute against Nicholls,” Kirk said. “There were flashes on Sunday that we all saw, he definitely has a bright future.”
The role Mond will play in Saturday’s game is unclear, as Sumlin said he will not announce a starter until Saturday.
“It’s the same situation as last week, we’ve got to get both guys ready to go since Nick’s not available,” Sumlin said.
Sumlin also added that it is very likely that both Mond and senior quarterback Jake Hubenak will play this weekend and in the next couple games ahead. The loss of Wilson will force senior defensive back Armani Watts to step up and take more of a leadership role.
“I’m going to have young guys next to me, so I’m going to have to let them know where they need to be and also help them to handle the pressure,” Watts said. “Losing Donovan is big, but we have guys to step in and play, that’s part of this game.”
Despite the gut-wrenching loss, Sumlin said he wants to focus on the positive aspects of the UCLA game and pointed to the Aggies strong play from the running game, particularly in the first half when the Aggies combined for 286 rushing yards.
The second half was significantly different for the Aggie rushing attack, as UCLA stacked the box and forced Mond to throw the ball downfield. This schematic change paid dividends for UCLA, and will likely be replicated by the Aggies’ future opponents.
“We know that they know now, they’re going to load the box on us and force Kellen to be a complete quarterback,” Sumlin said.
Moving forward, Sumlin will reflect on what went wrong Sunday during practice this afternoon and then put it behind them and start preparing for their game against Nicholls this Saturday.
“Today will be our first time to review video and talk about the positive and the negatives from Sunday night,” Sumlin said. “But this afternoon will be the last time we talk about UCLA from a lot of different facets.”
Though heavy underdogs in the game, Sumlin knows that Nicholls is not a team to be overlooked due to their talent on offense and their experience in big games and electric venues.
“They’re very similar to us offensively, really balanced. They’ve got a couple receivers outside that can really go, their quarterback has been really effective,” Sumlin said. “They’re coming off a win, they’re not going to be intimidated coming in here. They’re going tocome in here excited and we got to be ready to play.”
Despite Nicholls’ experience playing big games, Kirk thinks that the 12th Man will play a significant role in Saturday’s game.
“I expect an amazing atmosphere,” Kirk said. “I never put it past the 12th Man.”
The Aggies will take on Nicholls in their home opener this Saturday on Kyle Field at 6 p.m.

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