As Auburn’s final home conference game approaches, we need to learn more about the Texas A&M Aggies and Jimbo Fisher before they enter Jordan-Hare Stadium. Thankfully, @defNotChuck from Good Bull Hunting has all the info we desperately crave!
Texas A&M just played a pretty similar game in Starkville that Auburn did a few weeks ago. What’s the feeling in College Station as the Aggies head onto the road for a second straight time?
I’d say those games were similar in their disappointing result only, as the Aggies took a much more comical route. One need look no farther than Nick Fitzgerald’s 185.7 QB rating against A&M last weekend. The feeling in College Station these days is that our weak secondary that could easily be exploited by a decent quarterback is now our weak secondary that could easily be exploited by just about anyone. We joke that every struggling quarterback saves their season against A&M. Say, how is Jarrett Stidham doing this season?
Normally I would be dismayed about hitting the road again right after a jarring loss, but honestly since we’ve joined the SEC the Aggies in Jordan-Hare are way better than the Aggies literally everywhere else - including Kyle Field.
A&M has been a pretty odd team to watch from afar this season. They’ve played the top two teams in the country closer than anyone, but then muddied up the rest of their SEC contests. Which of those performances is closest to the norm?
Right now my gut says that the Aggies who played South Carolina are our truest form. This is an incomplete team that is still learning its system and trying to find its identity, but the players are talented and full of heart and led by what I believe may be a genuinely good coach. Against middling competition they will grind out ugly wins. Clemson was a happy accident (if you can call a loss that), but I haven’t seen that team since. Our offense that was once purposeful and precise is now lost and clumsy. The Aggies as a team do not know who they are right now, and neither do I. To complicate matters, the comparable mystery of the Auburn season means that we still probably won’t know who they are next week.
What are the early returns on Jimbo Fisher through the first two months of the season?
The first season under a new coach is a grab bag. Anyone who looked at our schedule this year and predicted more than 7 or at most 8 wins this season was a drunk or an idiot or in my case both that night. 6 would be disappointing, but still honestly not the end of the world. Of course hopes got a little too high when we stumbled into the top 20 and the crash back to earth was unpleasant, but Jimbo will be given a lot of rope this season as he gets his system in place. The Aggie brass made quite a show of paying Jimbo, and now they will make a show of giving him a couple of years to get things on track. We’ll just have to remain patient, a trait that online Aggies are known for.
We know about Kellen Mond, Tray Williams, and the run defense. What are the areas of the team that you want more people to know about? Also, what’s it like having a tight end that catches lots of passes? Auburn fans aren’t too familiar with that.
When Jace Sternberger caught his first touchdown this season it was the first score by an Aggie TE since mid-2016, and that one was the only catch of the season for Kalvin Cline. So yes, the tight end as an offensive weapon is new and exciting and frightening to us as well. It’s like finding out your lawnmower can connect to your wifi. The other fun surprise this season has been punter Braden Mann, who continues to dominate the FBS in punting average even after a couple of disappointing outings. When your offense runs in fits and starts it is critical to have a weapon like him to keep pinning the other team deep.
What do you think is keeping Jimbo up at night regarding this team?
Without question it’s the fact that A&M has yet to score more than two offensive touchdowns in regulation against a conference opponent. The Aggies’ offensive yardage numbers are in the top 25 in the country, but our scoring numbers are barely in the top half. Red zone offense has been bafflingly bad of late and I’m having recurring nightmares of A&M driving the field with ease only to arrive at the 16, go 3 and out, and then miss a FG. That recurring nightmare airs on the SEC Network.
What’s your reasoning for the road team always winning this game? Is it just nice timing or is it something deeper?
I was actually reviewing that tonight, and I don’t get it. In 2012 we had lightning in a bottle as Johnny Manziel had his way with Auburn for 350 all-purpose yards and 5 touchdowns. But in 2014 how did true freshman Kyle Allen throw for 4 touchdowns in the first half? He only had one against ULM the weekend before. And in 2016 Trevor Knight posted a QB rating of 40.4 in a winning effort? That doesn’t even make sense. This game just has a weird juju to it, which I am counting on at this point because on paper I just don’t think that the Aggies have what it takes to keep the streak alive.
What’s A&M’s path to victory and what happens on Saturday?
To pull off the win, the Aggies need our offensive line to put together a complete game. Our run blocking has set Trayveon Williams on a path for a career year, but pass blocking is a different story as the Aggies are currently 119th in the country for sacks allowed. Kellen Mond has been under a little heat the past couple weeks, but I think it’s hard to expect amazing things from a quarterback who spends the half the play clock crawling out from under defensive linemen every play. The only way that this offense gets clicking again is if Kellen Mond gets even a little time, and that is a tall order against the #5 defense in the country.
I love my boys, but I just don’t think they have it this weekend. The line opened at Auburn -6.5 and I would have taken that action, but at the current -4.5 I think the Tigers cover.
Texas A&M - 16
Auburn - 22
Auburn and Texas A&M kick off at 11 AM CST this Saturday from the Plains. Let’s start November off the right way. War Eagle!