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Texas A&M Football

Resiliency has Aggies in prime position heading into contest with South Carolina

November 2, 2020
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Midway through the college football season (and perhaps halfway to the playoff), there is a lot to like about seventh-ranked Texas A&M.

The offensive line has been dominant. Quarterback Kellen Mond is having a strong year. Running back Isaiah Spiller is relentless. Receiver Ainias Smith is explosive. The pass rush is emerging as a major weapon.

Yet, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher says he’s most impressed with a more intangible quality.

“The first thing is our competitive nature. Our ability to be resilient, our ability to match up each situation,” Fisher said on Monday. “No matter what happens to us, we keep playing the next play. We’re playing together and being a good football team.”

“No matter what happens to us, we keep playing the next play. We’re playing together and being a good football team.”
-A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

An abundance of examples bears out Fisher’s appraisal.

The Aggies (4-1) did not play well in a 17-12 season-opening victory over Vanderbilt, but when the outcome was in jeopardy in the final minutes, safety Leon O’Neal intercepted a pass to end one Vanderbilt threat. Defensive end Micheal Clemons recorded a sack to thwart another.

The Aggies came back from a loss to No. 2 Alabama to post a 41-38 victory over then-No. 4 Florida. Linebacker Buddy Johnson forced a key fumble, and Mond and Spiller led a clutch final drive to set up Seth Small’s game-winning field goal.

A week later, A&M answered a Mississippi State touchdown off a freak interception with two touchdowns of their own in a span of one minute and 26 seconds to clinch a 28-14 victory.

Then, in a 42-31 victory over Arkansas, the Aggies relied heavily on Mond’s passing accuracy to score on six straight possessions to take a 25-point advantage into the fourth quarter.

The Aggies have taken some punches thus far. But they’ve proved adept at counter punching. They hope to maintain that ability in the second half of the season, which begins Saturday night against South Carolina (2-3).

Fisher said that would require being equally prepared mentally and physically. He’s impressed with the Aggies’ camaraderie, chemistry and physicality on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

A&M is fifth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing offense and is among the national leaders in sacks allowed. The Aggies offensive line has not surrendered a sack in four consecutive games.

Lia Musgrave, TexAgs
Carson Green was named the Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Week following his performance vs. Arkansas.

Meanwhile, A&M’s defense has posted ten sacks in the last two games.

“In the SEC, it’s going to be a tough game every single week,” said senior tackle Carson Green, who was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Monday. “I think right now, for our unit, we’re not focused on stats or anything going on. South Carolina has a great defense. They always have a great D-line. They’re just as good as every other defense we’ll see.

“I think the main thing is we’re just focused on winning the next week. Everyone is trying their hardest to do their job and trying to fix their mistakes from the week before.”

That’s the mental approach Fisher wants. He warns the Aggies not to become preoccupied with their lofty national ranking.

“You’re never a favorite in any game. Everybody in this league can beat you. Everybody has got great players,” Fisher said. “It’s about us preparing and playing and handling our business one day at a time this week to get in position to be able to play on Saturday.

“That’s not a cliche. That’s the way we think. That’s the way we believe. That’s the way you have to do it. There are no favorites. There are no underdogs. You’ve just got to play the game and be the best you can be.”

At the midway point, that’s good enough for the Aggies to be playoff contenders.

Notes: Spiller is third in the SEC in rushing, Smith has added 183 rushing yards and freshman Devon Achane is emerging. He had a 30-yard touchdown run against Arkansas. Yet, Fisher implied the Aggies still aren’t deep enough at running back. “You never have enough good backs. The physicality of this league and the way a season goes on, trust me, you need every one of those guys. I need some more,” Fisher said.

Several players, including receiver Jhamon Ausbon and linebacker Anthony Hines, opted out this season for various reasons. Fisher did not say whether any of those who opted out had second thoughts, but he indicated he would be open to welcoming back any of the players who opted out. “We always discuss what's going on, why it’s going on, and you're always open to those situations because those guys made decisions in tough areas of their time and when those were different scenarios. As the circumstances changed, we all change. I would very much (considering letting them rejoin), though, because it's their right to do that (opt out). As a head coach, I need to listen to that and would be very open to that at any time, but at the same time, I respect what they have decided right now,” Fisher said.

Texas A&M is leading the nation in third-down conversion percentage. The Aggies have converted on 37 of 63 third-down opportunities for a 58.73 percent success rate.

Discussion from...

Resiliency has Aggies in prime position heading into contest with South Carolina

5,185 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by Digital_Java
AWP 97
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AG
I hope the team would vote to not let players that opted out opt back in. Would they opt in if the team was 1-4? Probably not. This shouldn't even be an issue. Hopefully, Fisher was just saying the right things.
AgOutsideAustin
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AG
AWP 97 said:

I hope the team would vote to not let players that opted out opt back in. Would they opt in if the team was 1-4? Probably not. This shouldn't even be an issue. Hopefully, Fisher was just saying the right things.


Well said. Life lesson here that when you make this big of a decision for the reasons you said were important there is no coming back.
CCAD AG
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I would hope that any serious consideration would be simply for next season. I think if you made a choice to skip this season, you live with that. As for next season, take that on a case-by-case situation considering any scholarship limits or allowances given for the "free" year.
Digital_Java
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AG
Earning actual game playing time after that extent of a layoff would be very limited so don't really see this being a problem. Anyone opting back in at this point in season would just be helping the team in practice preparation from bottom of the depth chart. This is a non-issue.
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