Thoughts From the Texas State Game

Before I get to the game I have to comment how much I’ve enjoyed these Thursday night games to open the season.  It’s easy for me to make these games so I’m biased but it’s nice to get the first game against a marginal opponent out of the way for Labor Day weekend.  Friday night would probably better for more people but these last two Thursday night games have been great in my mind.  No need to waste all day Saturday for an opponent like this.  Hopefully there’s more of these in the future.

As for the game itself I give it a solid B effort overall.  There were some good things but there were also enough questionable things this team needs to work on.

Let’s get to it on a unit by unit breakdown:

Offense:

Kellen Mond:

If you walked away from Mond’s performance on Thursday night with no respect for how he played you’re just never going to like Mond.  While he wasn’t electric taking over the game he was as solid as it comes.  He made some REALLY impressive throws and was decisive the entire game.  He was not that consistent in any game last season.  Maybe this was just one game or maybe this is the new Mond.  We’ll just have to see.  Either way I think that was Mond’s most complete game in an Aggie uniform.

Statistically he was 19 for 27 which is a 70% passer.  There were some drops by the receivers that should have been catches.  Mond could have EASILY been an 80% passer on the evening.  I know it’s Texas State but anytime your QB is on the mark to be an 80% passer that’s a damn good night.

His touchdown pass to Quartney Davis and his 40 yard pass for an almost touchdown to Jhamon Ausbon where as good of throws as it gets.  Especially the one to Ausbon where he spun out of pressure and threw a perfect ball rolling to his left 40 yards downfield on the sideline.  Mond was just on the mark all night long.   I don’t know if it was just the opponent but Mond played outstanding.

He’s not going to take over a game because he’s not that kind of QB but if Mond plays like he did on Thursday night the Aggies have a chance to win every game.  They won’t win every game obviously but if this is the Kellen Mond Jimbo has been developing things are looking up in Aggieland.  At least at quarterback.

The final thing on Mond that I’ll get into detail a little later is Mond was under way more pressure than he should have been all night.  He handled it well either getting rid of the ball or creating just enough time to pass the ball.  His only blemish of the night was the interception but I feel that was due to defensive pressure as much as Mond just making a bad throw.

I really do hope Texas State Mond is the new Mond as he was just solid all night long.

Wide Receiver:

The receiving corps did a pretty good job on a Thursday night.  Mainly Quartney Davis and Jhamon Ausbon.  Davis played as good as his best moments from 2018.  He had one big drop in the end zone but other than that he showed no regression from 2018.  He’s going to make plays all season I believe.

Jhamon Ausbon has lost some weight and looks like a totally different receiver.  He looked like much more of a downfield threat than he did last season.  Not a true deep threat just yet but someone who can catch a ball beyond 10 yards.

I don’t think this game was an anomaly as I think Ausbon and Davis are going to be Mond’s preferred targets all season and make plays.  They were targeted early and often for a reason.

As for the other receivers there’s still question marks.  Jalen Preston showed he might finally become the receiver his talent indicates.  He’s got a way to go but there was promise on Thursday night.  Hopefully Preston builds on what he showed in moments.  Kendrick Rogers only caught one pass and fumbled at the goal line.  He’s still the enigma where he’s either flashing greatness near the goal line or he’s nowhere to be found.  I’m fine if he catches 10 touchdowns but only has 200 yards on the season.

We didn’t see much out of anyone else.  Caleb Chapman was in the game quite a bit but we never really targeted him.

If there’s one negative for the receiver play it’s there weren’t any true deep balls.  The longest pass was the 40 yarder to Ausbon where Mond did look magical.  I keep waiting the for 50+ yard bomb where we have a receiver just torch their defender and Mond hits them in stride.  I think the lack of that play has more to do with lack of time in the pocket for Mond.  The offensive line has to get better before that play can manifest.

This group still has a way to go to be great.  They had a nice first game and there’s a solid base to build on.  I feel a little better about this group than I did coming into the season.

Tight Ends:

From a receiving standpoint the tight ends didn’t do much.  It’ll be interesting to see how Jimbo handles the tight ends with the loss of Sternberger and Cupp.  We ran a lot of 4 wides so I think Jimbo is just going to mix it up based on what he’s seeing.  I certainly don’t think we’ll have a tight end leading the receiving corps this season in yards and touchdowns.

Running Backs:

Coming into the season I thought replacing Trayveon Williams would be the easiest of the juniors that declared early with Erik McCoy and Tyrel Dodson being the other two.  I think I was wrong.  Replacing Trayveon may be much harder than I ever imagined.  Trayveon made things looks so easy that I didn’t realize just how great he was.  No doubt I always thought Trayveon was great but what I saw from our running backs on Thursday night gives me some level of concern.

Statistically everything looked great as we had two 100-yard rushers and averaged 6.8 yards a carry.  We had one long run by Isiah Spiller that really skewed those numbers.

From an eyeball standpoint I have concerns about Corbin being an every down back.  The dude has top end speed but he’s not nearly as fluid as Trayveon.  He doesn’t read the holes nearly as well and doesn’t seem as explosive through the hole.  Don’t get me wrong as he’s not a terrible back.  Right now he just doesn’t appear to be the plug and play running back I was hoping he would be.

I did like what I saw from Isiah Spiller in his short time.  He seems a little more explosive but clearly doesn’t have Corbin’s top end speed as he got walked down by Texas State players.  I know he’s a true freshman but running backs with elite top end speed score on that run.  Maybe he’s got better top end speed and wasn’t prepared since it was his first game.  That was my only real issue in Spiller’s short time in there.  A complete back scores on that run.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Spiller’s workload increase.  I also wouldn’t be shocked if at some point this season Spiller is getting more carries than Corbin.  We’ll just have to see how things go with our running backs but right now I think we’re going to miss Trayveon more than I ever imagined.

Offensive Line:

While the stat sheet looks outstanding for this group with no sacks and 246 yards rushing my eyeball test says otherwise.  This was the worst performing unit of the night BY FAR.  At best I would grade this unit with a C+.

Mond was under reasonable pressure all night long and the running game had to grind out short runs other than Spiller’s long run.  I expected a much more dominant effort against a unit like Texas State.  I expected a lot more runs of 10-15 yards and they just weren’t really there.  8 of Corbin’s 22 rushes were for 2 yards or less.  Two of those include getting no yards on back to back tries to score from the 1-yard line.  I’m not trying to demean Texas State but the Aggie offense shouldn’t need three tries to get a touchdown from the 1 yard line against an opponent like that.

To their credit we did start churning out more yards per carry later in the game but we should have been ripping off runs more than 2 yards from the start of the game.  I want an offensive line that can establish the line of scrimmage from the start of the game and we certainly didn’t do that.

From a pass blocking standpoint we were worse.  Even though there were no sacks it doesn’t mean Mond was without pressure all night.  This offensive line suffered the same issue from last season of failing to pick up delayed blitzes.  They just weren’t working as a cohesive unit for most of the night slowing down the pass rush of Texas State.  That has got to get better.

I hate knocking this guy but I didn’t see any improvement by Dan Moore at left tackle from last season.  There were several times guys were getting by him.  To me he’s by far the weakest link on the line at the most important position.  I believe he’ll start against Clemson but if he struggles against Clemson I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kenyan Green move out to left tackle for the rest of the season.  I just don’t think Moore is the answer long term at left tackle so might as well throw Green in the fire and see how he responds.  That would allow us to put Prater or McCollum at right guard.

I’m not completely sure how it plays out but this line has to get better.  What they did on Thursday night is not going to work in the SEC.  Something tells me the starters you saw on Thursday night won’t be the same by the time Alabama comes to Kyle Field if not sooner.

 

Defense:

Defensive Line:

The defensive line flat out shut down the Texas State running game.  Texas State’s main running back rushed 7 times for 22 yards.  That’s only 2.7 yards per carry and his longest was 8 yards.  There’s no doubt Texas State is a passing team but when they tried to run there wasn’t anything there.  Overall they only rushed for .5 yards per carry for a total of 8 yards.  Some sacks skew that a bit though as negative yards from sacks are counted to the rushing totals in college football.  Either way you can’t fault anything the defensive line did against the rush.

This is by far the best unit on the team and they showed it on Thursday night.  If there’s one disappointment I have it’s they didn’t get more pressure on the quarterback.  They didn’t do anything fancy from a stunting standpoint and Texas State wasn’t holding the ball very long trying to pass downfield.  That made it look like we struggled to get a strong pass rush.  I’m being greedy and wanted to see our defensive line dropping the Texas State quarterback more.  I’ll get to why in my preview of Clemson I’ll post later.

This group simply did what they do on Thursday night.  I’m good with their play.

Linebackers:

Linebacker was by far my biggest question coming into the season.  What I saw on Thursday night gives me a lot of comfort.  I thought Buddy Johnson and Anthony Hines looked outstanding.  While they’re not as physical as Alaka and Dodson they’re plenty physical and make up for it with their speed.  For the most part they played their assignments well.  Buddy Johnson led the team in tackles and really reminds me of a Sean Porter type linebacker.  He might not be the most imposing or get the most attention but the dude can play the position.

Roney Elam was excellent in the nickel position.  He came in right behind Buddy Johnson in tackles but also had a sack, interception, and two pass break ups.  Elam might be the most pleasant surprise of any one player.

Right now this grouping of Johnson, Hines, and Elam looks like it’s going to be okay.

Secondary:

The secondary looked really damn good against Texas State.  I have questions with this unit when it comes to elite opponents but their performance on Thursday night was certainly a good start.  In addition to Elam’s interception, Leon O’Neal added an interception, and Myles Jones added two interceptions as well.  One interception was beautiful where he just climbed the ladder to grab the ball.

I still have questions about this unit to cover the deep ball against elite receivers like we’ll see against Clemson and Bama but for their first game you can’t ask for anything more.  I have some cautious optimism coming out of this game.

 

All in all when it comes to the defense you can’t ask for anything more.  It would have been nice to shut out Texas State.  Other than the last one the Texas State offense didn’t do anything so we basically did.  Must give credit where credit is due to the defense.  Mike Elko and his unit looks to be solid again.

Special Teams:

Braden Mann:

Braden Mann punted three times and put all three inside the 20-yard line.  His best punt all night was a 55 yarder where the Texas State returner had to backpedal to catch it and then just fell down.  He only averaged 43.3 yards on the night but that was mainly because the Aggies didn’t need him to flip the field.  I still have the utmost confidence he’s the best punter in college football right now.

Seth Small:

Seth Small was perfect on kicks of 22 and 26 yards.  That’s all you can ask for considering the game.

Roshauud Paul:

I thought Paul was outstanding returning punts.  He’s not going to light up returns but his awareness of when to fair catch and when there’s a little room to run is outstanding.  He understands his main job is to secure the ball before anything else.  If you’re not Christian Kirk then just make sure to ALWAYS catch the ball.

 

Had the offensive line and Corbin established the running game earlier and gave Mond more time to pass I would say this was as good as you could ask for.  We would have easily scored two more touchdowns.  It was a good tune up game for Clemson.  There’re certainly some areas to improve and it gives Jimbo a good idea of what this team looks like against an opponent that’s not your own.

So, can the Aggies beat Clemson?  Here’s my thoughts:

https://rcwouldhavegonefor2.com/2019/09/01/can-the-aggies-beat-clemson

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The Ultimate Aggie Grill:

Aggie Grill small

At the 2019 Houston Coach’s Night the ultimate Aggie grill was on display.  Chaz Hammonds ’13 with Soul Fit Grill has created a maroon kamado grill.  As someone who has one of the big name kamado grills I can tell you this thing is on par quality wise.  It’s comparable in size to the XL of the big name brand for much less.  For $899 you get the grill, side boards, and stand.  If you’re in Houston he’ll even deliver for free.  If you’re in the market for a kamado grill give Chaz a look.  You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a link to his website:

http://www.soulfitgrill.com/grills/the-legend-kamado-by-soulfitgrill

He also has a smaller grill if you’re looking for a smaller one:

http://www.soulfitgrill.com/grills/r4enfujd21dlcgtzq64zbkkbw8lyqe

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