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Texas A&M Football

End-of-half scoring contributions played big role in Texas A&M's 2020 success

January 19, 2021
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Many factors contributed to Texas A&M’s excellent 2020 football season.

Quarterback Kellen Mond had the best year of his career. Running back Isaiah Spiller was a 1,000-yard rusher. The defense was among the best in the nation. A&M was third in the nation in third-down conversions. The Aggies were a healthy plus-6 in turnover margin.

The list could go on and on.

One of the factors that might be easily overlooked was A&M’s ability to score in the last minutes — or last legitimate possession — of the first half.

Closing the half with a field goal or touchdown can give a team a jolt of confidence and set up a strong second half. Allowing one can be demoralizing and put a team on the brink of waving the white flag.

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Jalen Wydermyer scored with 14 seconds remaining in the second half vs. South Carolina to give A&M a 21-0 advantage.

Last season, the Aggies (9-1) scored in that end-of-half situations in seven games. In the lone loss, Alabama added a touchdown just before the first half ended.

A&M’s ability to close the half strong likely will continue in future seasons as more big-play potential is added and the mental toughness that coach Jimbo Fisher looks to build continues to permeate through the roster.

Skeptics might discount the importance of a final first-half score because … well, 30 minutes still remain to be played.

But there are psychological and energetic benefits to closing the half with points. An expert confirms this.

“The biggest thing about scoring right before the half is the momentum swing,” Fisher said. “(It’s) The confidence it gives your team going into halftime. If we won the toss and deferred, we could steal a possession, score right before the half and then come out and score to open the second half before the other team even has a chance to touch the ball.”

The Aggies did that against South Carolina. Mond threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jalen Wydermeyer with just 14 seconds remaining in the first half. That gave A&M a 21-0 lead.

The Aggies then took the second-half kickoff and marched 75 yards in seven plays for a 15-yard touchdown run by Mond. That rout was on, and the Aggies posted a 48-3 victory.

The points are obviously vital, but in many cases, it appeared the momentum gained was even more valuable.

In the seven victories in which A&M scored at the end of the first half, the Aggies outscored their opponents 123-68 in the second half. That includes 14 points by Arkansas after A&M took a 42-17 lead into the fourth quarter and put it on cruise control.

“That is why our practices are so hard. Push through mentally and physically, so when you are in a game situation, you are comfortable, and you know you can reach down for more.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

That also includes LSU’s meaningless touchdown with 36 seconds left in a 20-7 Aggie victory.

Those two were the only games among the seven with late first half A&M scores in which the Aggies were outscored in the fourth quarter.

A&M was excellent in the fourth quarter all season. The Maroon & White outscored opponents 92-58 in the final frame.

However, in wins that were reasonably competitive going into the fourth quarter, the Aggies were even more dominant.

A&M outscored Florida 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Auburn 17-0, Tennessee 10-0 and North Carolina 24-7.

Once might be luck. Twice could be a coincidence. Three times is a trend. Four or more … that’s a change in culture.

Expect that success to continue in future seasons, too. Fisher apparently does.

“Finishing in the fourth quarter is something we talk about as a program in everything we do,” Fisher said. “It’s about finishing. We have our fourth quarter drills in the off-season to push our guys mentally and physically.

“That is why our practices are so hard. Push through mentally and physically, so when you are in a game situation, you are comfortable, and you know you can reach down for more. It’s a great lesson about life.”

Life lessons are always good. Of course, they’re best learned in victory.

Discussion from...

End-of-half scoring contributions played big role in Texas A&M's 2020 success

4,319 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by ccatag
B&MJ66AG
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AG
Great article!
Tamu_mgm
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AG
It's such a breath of fresh air to have a championship level coach who not only emphasizes finishing, but knows how to coach his guys to do it.
ccatag
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AG
What a Great season this team produced. Well done.
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