Aggie running game faces stern test

Mark Passwaters, Publisher
Aggie Yell

AggieYell.com begins its coverage of Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0 SEC)'s matchup with No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) with a breakdown of the Aggie offense vs. Alabama's defense. 

Texas A&M likely starters

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QB: Kellen Mond (Fr.; 6'2", 210; 69-126, 808 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT; 51 carries for 252 yards, 1 TD)

RB: Trayveon Williams (Soph.; 5'9", 200; 66 carries for 384 yards and 5 TD)

WR: Jhamon Ausbon (Fr.; 18 catches for 199 yards and 1 TD)

Slot: Christian Kirk (Soph.; 5'11", 200; 23 catches, 264 yards, 4 TD)

WR: Damion Ratley (Sr.; 6'3", 190; 9 catches, 196 yards)

TE: Tanner Schorp (RS-Sr.; 6'3", 245; 3 catches for 13 yards)

LT: Koda Martin (RS-Jr.; 6'6", 310)

LG: Ryan McCollum (RS-Fr.; 6'5", 295)

C: Erik McCoy (RS-Soph.; 6'4", 315)

RG: Connor Lanfear (Jr.; 6'6", 320)

RT: Keaton Sutherland (Jr.; 6'5", 310)

Aggie offense by the numbers

Scoring offense: 37.4 PPG (29th nationally, 2nd SEC)

Rushing: 255.6 YPG (14th nationally, 2nd SEC)

Passing: 192.6 YPG (95th nationally, 12th SEC)

Total: 448.2 YPG (41st nationally, 2nd SEC)

1st downs: 117 (18th nationally, 2nd SEC)

3rd down conversions: 44% (35th nationally, 4th SEC)

4th down conversions: 60% (48th nationally, 3rd SEC)

Red zone offense: 87.5% (49th nationally, 5th SEC)

Sacks allowed: 13 (96th nationally, 9th SEC)

Turnover +/-: +8 (12 takeaways, 4 giveaways; 7rd nationally, 2nd SEC)

Alabama likely starters (3-4 base)

Ronnie Harrison 6-3 214DE: Isaiah Buggs (Jr.; 6'5", 293; 12 tackles, .5 TFL, .5 sacks)

NT: Da’Ron Payne (Jr.; 6'2", 308; 23 tackles, .5 TFL, .5 sacks, 1 pass broken up)

DE: Raekwon Davis (Soph.; 6'7", 306; 14 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks)

JACK: Anfernee Jennings (RS-Soph.; 6'3", 262; 5 tackles, 2 forced fumbles)

SAM: Jamey Mosley (RS-Jr.; 6'5", 248; 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass broken up)

MIKE: Shaun Dion Hamilton (Sr.; 6', 235; 23 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass broken up)

WILL: Rashaan Evans (Sr.; 6'3", 234; 9 tackles, .5 TFL, 1 pass broken up)

CB: Anthony Averett (RS-Sr.; 6', 185; 21 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 4 passes broken up)

SS: Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jr.; 6'1", 202; 23 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass broken up)

FS: Ronnie Harrison (Jr.; 6'3", 214; 23 tackles, 3 TFL, 2sacks, 2 INT)

CB: Levi Wallace (Sr.; 6', 183; 9 tackles, .5 TFL, 3 INT, 6 passes broken up)

STAR: Tony Brown (Sr.; 6', 198; 10 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass broken up)

Alabama defense by the numbers

Scoring defense: 8.6 PPG (1st nationally)

Rushing defense: 73.8 YPG (2nd nationally, 1st SEC)

Pass defense: 175.2 YPG (24th nationally, 6th SEC)

Total defense: 249 YPG (6th nationally, 2nd SEC)

3rd down conversions defense: 28.1% (15th nationally, 2nd SEC)

4th down conversions defense: 20% (12th nationally, 1st SEC)

Red zone defense: 77.8% (44th nationally, 6th SEC)

First downs allowed: 69 (25th nationally, 3rd SEC)

Tackles for loss: 29 (79th nationally, 9th SEC)

Sacks: 10 (66th nationally, 9th SEC)

Turnover +/-: +10 (10 takeaways, 0 giveaways; 3rd nationally, 1st SEC)

What A&M wants to do

As good as Kellen Mond has been the last couple of weeks, the Aggies don't want to put too much on his shoulders. The objective here is going to try to run the football as much as possible, keeping Alabama off balance as much as possible with the three-headed monster of Tray Williams, Keith Ford and Kendall Bussey. There's going to probably be more run-pass option tomorrow, and Mond is improving on when to hold the ball and when to hand it off.

It's going to be tough to control Alabama's front seven, especially when they can still rotate talented players in waves in spite of numerous injuries. But the Aggies must be able to run the football and control the clock.

Obviously, this can't be one-dimensional and the Aggies are going to have to get innovative in the passing game. Throwing out of the RPO on the move (which Mond did last week) is one way; using play action and taking some real shots deep is another. Quick passes to the outside are going to be eaten up, so the Aggies have to find ways to wheel Christian Kirk to the outside and get him deep or drag him over the middle. Jhamon Ausbon and Damion Ratley are also going to have to use their size and speed and try to get deep too. You don't want to be turnover-prone, but the Aggies are going to have to take some shots as well.

What Alabama wants to do

Pretty much what they've done since starting SEC play. What's to change when you've outscored opponents 125-3 and have given up 1 first down in 23 opportunities?

The Crimson Tide plays the kind of defense that we've come to expect from them for the most part: very athletic, extremely fast and capable of playing either a 3-4, a 4-3 (on occasion) and a 3-3-5 set. If they're looking to stop the run, they'll use the Jack; if they are looking pass, then the Star comes in.

Alabama doesn't necessarily care about sacks or tackles for loss; they're looking for ways to hold up opponents at or near the line of scrimmage, and that they've done extremely well. If they can get A&M into second and third and long situations and put the pressure on Mond, the game shifts greatly in their advantage. The secondary is tough, doesn't make mistakes and turns the ball over.

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