With so much to be thankful for this season from the 2019 LSU team, the Tigers want to keep the pedal to the metal and finish off the regular season in convincing fashion.
To do so, the team must go through Texas A&M, a team that's been battle tested all year but have come out on the wrong end in most of those battles. We caught up with Aggie Maven writer Cole Thompson to get his perspective on the 2019 Texas A&M Aggies, what the team does well and his thoughts on Saturday's game.
We all know the recent history of this game and specifically how last year’s game ended. What are the players saying about that and how are they approaching the matchup this year in Baton Rouge?
The input around College Station is focusing on the task ahead. A majority of players are remembering the night more so as a fond memory, not as fuel for success. It was a game many A&M fans will remember positively, but the focus has turned onto this season.
The Aggies are more upset about a close loss to Georgia, which could be a factor into their play Saturday. Overall, it feels like that will be the driving force to the game rather than remembering the 2018 season. With a chance to finish with the same record, the focus is about fixing minor mistakes early so they can contend all four quarters.
If not for a struggling first half, we’re talking about a potential 9-3 A&M roster, so that’s where the focus is. A&M safety Keldrick Carper said the focus was on “finishing the season on the right note.” That’s where their heads are now.
Talk a little about the progression/regression of Kellen Mond. He’s been someone with so much preseason hype but has seemingly flamed out from a distance this year. Why might that be the case?
The reality is Mond has great drives in garbage time. His numbers have been fantastic in the second half, but they’re fluxed with late scores in games that are either over in favor of A&M or when they’re down and out.
He’s been consistent in the second half, but his first half struggles are prevalent, specifically on the road. Of his six interceptions this year, four have come away from Kyle Field. He’s there for the numbers, but they don’t explain his early struggles that have put the Aggies behind.
Mond started the season off with hype due to his game against LSU last season. As a sophomore, he culminated over 250 passing yards and seven touchdowns. That and a year under Fisher’s system were supposed to fix all the small things. He’s still a solid SEC quarterback, but the preseason hype was just that; hype.
Just from asking around, what’s the view of Aggie fans about Jimbo Fisher after a disappointing year? Are they still in the early stages of feeling him out or is there starting to be some unnerving feelings?
One thing I’ve learned covering this team is their expectations are high. When you pay $7.5 million for a coach, you want immediate results and won’t settle for 8-4 seasons. Frustration has begun to set in with some A&M fans, but others are still believing in the process.
Take into context A&M played five top-10 teams this season. Two games it's lost by a combined 14 points and nearly completed the comeback. It's the first team since 1975 to face the AP’s preseason top-three teams in the same season and will be the first team in College Football history to face the AP’s top team three times in a single season.
That’s all you have to say about this year for fans to calm down.
Next year is a “prove-it” year for Fisher and his staff. A veteran roster is expected to return and he will finish with potentially a third top-10 recruiting class. Their schedule is significantly easier as well. If the Aggies struggle and go say 7-5 or 8-4 again, now you could start hearing the “hot seat” rumors come around.
What’s one area, offense or defense you could see Texas A&M having some success against LSU on Saturday and why?
The passing game to be honest. Isaiah Spiller is a top-10 rusher in the SEC, but all three of his 100-yard games have come against non-Power 5 teams. Last week, he led the team with seven rushing yards.
The Aggies are going to pass and pass often. Grant Delpit has struggled making tackles and missed time with an injury. Kristian Fulton has also been inconsistent at times this year. The Aggies will likely try to target deep early to put up a score and make things interesting. Throw in a few runs here and there, but the LSU front seven has been better than their secondary.
If A&M wants a chance to win, it's going to need to pass.
This shouldn’t be hard for LSU, but crazy things happen in the final week of College Football. A&M has improved since the start of the year, winning four straight before last Saturday’s game in Athens. When it gets on a roll, the offense is hard to stop and the defense has rapidly improved.
But LSU is a special team with Joe Brady and Ed Orgeron. The offense has been one of the best in recent memory and are true contenders for a national title this year. You can say that about three teams if Clemson is the real deal and not playing in a weak conference.
This will be LSU’s toughest test, but Joe Burrow has shined this season in top-10 games. Expect the same thing to happen again, specifically in the red zone. Without an established run game in the SEC outside of Mississippi State, it’s hard to be in favor of A&M. I’ll say it’s closer than expected, but LSU finishes the season undefeated.
Final: LSU 38, Texas A&M 28