Texas A&M football: Red zone, 3rd down struggles doom Aggies in loss

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Texas A&M football couldn’t score in the red zone and their third down defense took a huge step backwards in the loss to Mississippi State.

Here we go again. Texas A&M football got off to a good start in 2018 as they have in each of their last six seasons, and as has been the case in the past three, Mississippi State identified and exposed a weakness in the Aggie defense and the offense struggled to do much of anything against the Bulldog defense, but specifically couldn’t score touchdowns when they got close.

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The Aggies came into the game as one of the best rush defenses in the country and the No. 1 team at getting off the field on third down, but were No. 84 in passing yards allowed. Despite Nick Fitzgerald looking like one of the worst Power 5 quarterbacks in 2018, he went off on the Aggies and hit three huge third down passes that led to points.

In the first quarter, he hit Stephen Guidry for a 25-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-12, then hit Osirus Mitchell for a 38-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-11, then hit Guidry again on a 3rd-and-21 in the third quarter that went 84 yards to the 1-yard line. These weren’t the only 3rd down conversions given up by the Aggies but they were by far the biggest.

Mississippi State went 7-for-12 on third down. A&M came into the game allowing teams to convert just 22.8 percent of their third downs.

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Plus, they were just inexcusable. The defense has to get off the field in those situations. They’ve been great at it all season long but fell short in a huge road test they needed to win.

The offense wasn’t much better. Despite getting into the red zone on three separate occasions, they managed just two field goals on those trips. Kellen Mond threw an interception on a 4th-and-goal from the 10 yard line that had little chance of converting anyway.

A&M has moved the ball relatively well between the 20s this season. The last two weeks have been dreadful for the red zone offense and Jimbo Fisher has a lot of explaining to do after the bye week should have given him plenty of time to work out the kinks.

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The Aggies take on Auburn next Saturday and will face another tough defense. Red zone offense has to get better or it’s going to be a long November for Aggie fans.

Jeff Shull is the Site Expert for the Gig Em Gazette on FanSided. Follow him on Twitter, and be sure to follow the Gig Em Gazette on Facebook and Twitter.