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Texas A&M Football

Aggies insist disappointment of missing CFP won't carry into Orange Bowl

December 28, 2020
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Lack of focus or disinterest is often cause for concern in college football bowl games.

However, Texas A&M players and coaches vowed neither will be an issue on Saturday night when the No. 5 Aggies (8-1) face No. 13 North Carolina (8-3) in the Orange Bowl.

“There’s nothing that's shown me any indication other than this football team is going to continue to practice this week, pointing towards Saturday and go out and have a lot of fun playing a great football game against a great, great opponent,” offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey said on Monday during an Orange Bowl press conference.

“We always want to have the same level of focus, no matter what game we're playing, no matter if it's Week One in the season or in a national championship.”
- A&M quarterback Kellen Mond

Quarterback Kellen Mond concurred.

“We always want to have the same level of focus, no matter what game we're playing, no matter if it's Week One in the season or in a national championship,” Mond said. “You know, coach (Jimbo) Fisher always talks about building national championship habits no matter what game that we're playing. I think that's what's important.”

Talk can be cheap, especially for the fifth-ranked team that just missed making the four-team College Football Playoff field.

Two years ago, players for No. 5 Georgia said in pregame interviews they were focused for a Sugar Bowl clash with Texas. Instead, the Bulldogs were obviously disinterested and lacked intensity in a 28-21 loss.

The Bulldogs are not alone. Since the inception of the CFP in 2014, fifth-ranked teams are 2-4 in bowl games.

Mond said that won’t be the case for A&M. He acknowledged the Aggies were initially disappointed at being omitted from the playoff but quickly got over it.

“I think (the disappointment) lasted less than a day,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you got to move on, and you can't let it affect the way that we play North Carolina.”

The Aggies point to the fact that no one on the roster has opted out of the Orange Bowl as evidence they’re focused.

Four of North Carolina’s top players have opted out to begin preparing for the NFL draft.

Running backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams both rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Receiver Dyami Brown led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 1,099 receiving yards. Linebacker Chazz Surratt led the Tar Heels with 91 tackles. He tied for the team lead with six sacks.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Carter (8) and Brown (2) have opted out of the Orange Bowl, leaving quarterback Sam Howell (7) with fewer weapons at his disposal.

“It just shows how dedicated and how much work that we actually put in to be able to get to this opportunity,” sophomore receiver Ainias Smith said. “We're not going to take this opportunity for granted. It’s our mindset to take advantage of every opportunity that we’ve been given. I feel like that's the whole team's mindset. We just got to come out and execute.”

Of course, there are still five days until the Orange Bowl, so A&M players could still decide to sit out.

However, senior tackle Carson Green doesn’t think any Aggies will change their minds. He said the struggle with the COVID-19 virus forged a bond within the team.

“I don't think anybody on our team is going to quit on our team like that,” Green said. “You kind of gotta give it up for everybody just sticking with each other through kind of rough times. Two weeks off here and there. You get COVID. People get quarantined. Everyone knew they just wanted to keep playing.

“I think it's one of those things, too. We owe it to Texas A&M to play it out,” Green said. “Coach Fisher might not have recruited me, but I owe a lot to (former coach Kevin) Sumlin for letting me come here and letting me play. I owe a lot to A&M to finish out my part of the contract and play out all my games since they are providing a scholarship and letting me play here.”

Besides, Green said the Aggies still have something to prove to those who doubted whether A&M should have been chosen for the playoff.

“We've just got to prove to everybody in the country that we are a top team. We’re a Top Five team and want to stay there.”
- A&M OL Carson Green

“We've just got to prove to everybody in the country that we are a top team," Green said. “We’re a Top Five team and want to stay there. This game, especially, we need to prove that we belong in a New Year’s Six bowl and are contenders for years and years to come.”

Mond said that’s not a different approach.

“I think our mindset each and every week is that we have something to prove,” he said. “I don't think it's anything to prove to other people, but we just want to continue to get better as a team and continue to grow.

“We want to be able to do that, whether we're No. 5 and got left out the playoffs or not. We want to play the best that we can.”

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Aggies insist disappointment of missing CFP won't carry into Orange Bowl

5,654 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by agent-maroon
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This team is filled with leaders and guys who have heart! Love this team!!
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We're a Top Five team and want to stay there.
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