Outside the Pocket: 1/1 (TD)
Under Pressure: 5/8
Red Zone: 7/9 (2 TD)
3rd/4th Down: 10/11 (10 conversions, 1 TD)
Forced Adjustments: 1
Explosive Plays (25+ yards and/or touchdown): 4
Kellen Mond had a career-day against the Florida Gators. Florida’s defense is not usually one to be giving up career-day’s to anybody, but they are a relatively poor unit this season, and Texas A&M had the perfect combination of tools to take advantage of it. No matter what Florida tried to pull, Mond and the offense had an answer.
The foundation of Mond’s performance was how he handled Florida’s various pressure packages. All throughout the day, Florida DC Todd Grantham tried sending five-man pressures to get to Mond. He was even getting creative with the way he sent four rushers more often than not. On almost every occasion, Mond either bet the blitz before it arrived or delivered in the event that it did arrive.
Mond’s five-of-eight accuracy rate against pressure is listed above, but the numbers are also impressive when looking at all plays with at least five rushers. On 14 such attempts, Mond was accurate 11 times, even delivering a touchdown on one of them. He was absolutely lights out in nullifying the one thing Grantham likes to do as a play-caller.
Here is one of Mond’s toughest deliveries from under pressure. Florida’s pressure package did not do much to earn a free rusher anywhere, but the right tackle did get stuck on an island with the defensive end, who beat him around the edge rather quickly. Mond was already locked into his target by the time the defensive end was coming around the edge and a step away from hitting him, so Mond had to do what he could to get the ball out without being disrupted. Though subtle, Mond tries to slowly fade / rotate away from the pass-rusher as his arm is coming around with the ball while still holding his weight back. Even just that sliver of space Mond buys himself by not leaning into this throw was enough to keep the pass-rusher off and get the ball out.
This time, Florida did generate a free rusher. The nose tackle starts to the center’s right and the OL is set to slide right, but the nose cuts across the center’s face at the snap. Now Texas A&M have just two blockers to the slide side, one of which (the right guard) is occupied by a defensive lineman. The Gators then send to blitzers from the field, the nickel and a linebacker. With the center and right guard occupied, the linebacker is free and books it towards Mond. The senior Aggies QB sees the blitzer, though, and finds the open receiver in the area both the blitzers left void. Pretty heads-up play by Mond to recognize the vacancy the blitz left and deliver to that area despite the pressure.
The entire game was not just, “Hey, Kellen, beat the blitz, okay?,” all game, though. From a schematic standpoint, it seemed like the Aggies sort of had Florida’s numbers. HC Jimbo Fisher and Mond beat the Florida defense a handful of times throughout the day using high-low concepts. High-low concepts are generally geared to target linebackers who want to play the low routes, coaxing them into leaving a particular area. Defensive backs are then put into a 1-on-1 situation with no underneath help on the “high” routes.
Texas A&M’ caught the Gators early with this high-low concept. The Aggies #2 receiver (middle) runs a follow-pivot route, while the #3 (innermost) bends his stem around the hash before breaking back over the middle. As Mond is trotting through his drop back, he catches Florida’s nickel with eyes on the underneath route. Mond knows that if the nickel is eyeing the underneath follow-pivot, he is going to have a tough time locating the bender behind him. As such, Mond gets to the top of his drop and lets it rip, finding his man for a touchdown.
Here is a similar clip, this time with the Gators playing 3-over-2 against an outside stack rather than the two inside receivers to trips. With the Gators’ safety playing at eight yards depth, which is a bit shallow, and right over top of the nickel defender, Mond has a good inclination that the Gators are blitzing the nickel. At the snap, Mond confirms it and now knows the hash area will be vacated when the safety rolls down to cover the follow-pivot. Mond just has to beat the cornerback with the throw and does exactly that.
How about one more for good measure? In this clip, the Gators do not send a pressure from the high-low side. The Gators have 3-against-2, just like in the touchdown clip from before. Mond is playing more off of the linebacker’s positioning than his eyes this time, though. The linebacker seems to be playing Mond’s eyes from the snap while slow-playing his drop to be able to drive on the underneath route. The linebacker never really shades up/towards the middle for the high-low, giving Mond the green light to throw the square-in behind the linebacker. Mond’s throw is a bit wild this time, but the receiver bails him out with a sick one-handed catch on the heater.
If there was something to knock Mond for in this game (besides the one horrific throw down the seam that should have been picked off), it is that Mond can still only really throw fastballs. When a QB is operating as fluidly within the system as Mond was on the day, that usually won’t matter a time. However, certain throws, particularly outside the numbers, often require a degree of touch that those blazing fastballs just can not deliver consistently. It can still work, but a QB is certainly hindering themselves by not being able to change things up and take heat off when necessary.
Mond should be trying to leave this one over the receiver’s far shoulder towards the sideline. The LB is playing from behind with inside leverage the whole way, so there is no reason for Mond to not try to throw opposite that leverage. Instead, Mond tries to just rifle it in a straight line out in front of his target, which leans right into the angle the linebacker was playing. Mond threw this one as if a defensive back was playing this from the top-down, as if all corner routes are to be thrown the same, but that just is not the case. And that is not to say Mond can not throw a corner route or that he could never complete this ball this way, but he makes it tougher on himself by not adjusting to the particular situation at hand.
But again, that is a relatively minor gripe with an otherwise excellent showing from Mond. Though the Gators defense is not as strong as it usually is, it still means something to take down the No.4 team in the country with a career-best performance. It’s not like Mond is supposed to completely overhaul his NFL Draft outlook in one game, either. There is nothing wrong with showing some blemishes while still being dominant in the grand scheme of things.
That being said, the complaint with Mond has long been that he is good for a couple of very good games a year, while ultimately being inconsistent throughout the course of the season. Heck, that is still true this season, considering his 6.8 yards per attempt performance against Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt!
Mond and the Aggies will get to run the SEC gauntlet this year, though, which could give Mond the opportunity to shine and improve his draft stock if he can cut out those inconsistent performances for the remainder of the season. Mond’s games against Tennessee and Auburn later in the year will be critical.