Texas A&M Football: Aggies have finally found the will to win

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 09: Christian Kirk (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 09: Christian Kirk (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

No one said it was going to be easy, and it certainty wasn’t. However, Texas A&M football is now mentally and physically prepared for SEC play.

This schedule was tailored made for a team with a young quarterback. Only three road games, one neutral site game and a stretch where the team leaves the state of Texas only once in 10 weeks. All of that had to excite you and so far we’ve seen both bright spots and fair share of reasons for concern. Before we break down the remainder of the schedule, let’s recap what we’ve seen so far.

The first game of the season had the Aggies playing UCLA in the Rose Bowl. I was as excited for this game as if I was on this team. How many chances will you ever get to play in that stadium? UCLA took the opening drive down the field but the drive stalled and were forced to kick a field goal. Outside of a late drive in the second quarter, the Bruins were completely dominated for 40 minutes.

The Aggies were up 44-10 at the 4:08 mark in the third quarter but would be without starting quarterback Nick Starkel after going down early in the third quarter with a lower leg injury. From there the game turned completely in the favor of the Bruins. They would score the final 35 points and win one of the craziest games I’ve seen in my 41 years.

How would this team respond?  Can the coaching staff keep the ship from sinking?

Their next opponent was Nicholls State. Maybe, on a short week, the team could leave what happened in the Rose Bowl back in California. The offense under new starting quarterback Kellen Mond would take the opening drive 79 yards, ending with a 27 yard touchdown pass from Mond to Christian Kirk to open the scoring. If you’re an Aggie fan you have to think here we go, but unfortunately they would only score two more touchdowns in the game. I personally said “uh-oh” to my wife.

A couple of things concerned me after watching the game. Nicholls State quarterback Chase Fourcade completed just 13 passes for a whopping 264 yards. The other stat that was concerning was the Aggies had rushed for around a 100 yards heading into the fourth quarter until Kendall Bussey got going. He would rush for 97 in the game with almost all of it coming in the final quarter to seal the victory.

Progress, slowly but surely

Same question applies, how would this team respond?  First and third possessions were great, but the middle part of the game was tough to watch. They did do enough to win but winning this way will be harder as competition gets better.

Louisiana would come to Kyle Field the next week wearing their throwback uniforms from their win over the Aggies in 1996.  I was on the sideline for that one as an equipment manager and saw them carry the goal post out of the stadium. I was once again on the sideline this past Saturday and saw another Cajuns’ team give the Aggies all they could handle for 30 minutes. What was wrong with the Aggies? Was it due to the time of the game or were we looking ahead to the conference opener the following week? Either way, the Aggies ran into the locker down 21-14.

All they needed was a spark

I usually do not go into the locker room during halftime. I did not do it as an equipment manager, but this time I wanted to hear the chatter from inside. While I cannot tell you what was said, I can tell you this team was well aware of what was happening. I stood next to TexAgs’ Billy Liucci, equipment manager Matt Watson and former quarterback Stephen McGee during the second half and watched the Aggies score on every possession, save for one. That was a missed field goal after a bad snap. The tempo was there, the enthusiasm was there and most importantly the “want to” was there. The final score was 45-21 thanks to 34 second half points.

Next: Week 4 SEC Power Rankings

Now we set our sights to conference play and one of the roughest four-week stretches for any team in 2017. After three weeks of football, the next four weeks will be tough, but after watching Arkansas, South Carolina and Florida, we have as good a shot to win those games as they do.