In Jimbo Fisher’s first season as the Aggies’ head coach, Texas A&M football had some highs and lows that we walk through and analyze together.
I will start off by saying that 2018 has definitely been a season of ups and downs (although you could probably say that about most Texas A&M Football seasons in recent history). While this season has had its highs and lows, these don’t feel like typical peaks and valleys, but rather massive peaks and deep valleys. Let’s walk through the season together, shall we?
In Jimbo Fisher’s debut season, Texas A&M lost to the current No. 1, No. 2, and No. 18 ranked teams… and Auburn. The loss to Clemson was easily the Aggies’ “best loss” as the Ags only lost by two points and clawed back in the second half to do it.
The team played very well and had the game within grasp up until the end. Texas A&M had more total yards than Clemson but couldn’t capitalize at times and also gave up two fumbles, even though one of them was a questionable call that gave Clemson a touchback and the ball.
The Tigers finished the 2018 season in the top five for both total offense and total defense, making it safe to say that the Ags shouldn’t be too hard on themselves after losing by two points.
The Aggies’ worst loss of the season was also to the Tigers… of Auburn. Up until the fourth quarter the game wasn’t frustrating at all. The Ags led by 14 up until about seven minutes remaining, but thanks to three turnovers, one of them a late interception from Kellen Mond, Auburn was able to come back and defeat the Aggies at Jordan-Hare for the first time since A&M joined the SEC.
This game hurt a lot. This was a game in which the Aggies had multiple opportunities to close it out and a game that should have easily been won. With a win over Auburn, Texas A&M would likely be taking LSU’s place in the Fiesta Bowl against UCF on January 1st.
I fully believe that Jimbo’s team had the capabilities to win at least three of the four games it lost this season. But Its hard to win every game when you rank 112th in the country for turnover margin. There’s no doubt in my mind that next season the coaching staff will be focusing hard on this subject, drilling it into player’s heads to hold onto the ball.
However, the season wasn’t all bad by any means. The Aggies also had signature wins over the current No. 11 and No. 14 ranked teams.
Texas A&M took down Kentucky in overtime behind 138 rushing yards from Trayveon Williams and 226 yards from Kellen Mond. The Aggie defense played particularly well, holding Kentucky star running-back Benny Snell Jr. to 60 total yards and no touchdowns. Kentucky scored just one offensive touchdown the whole game.
The Aggies’ best win of the year also came AGAINST the Tigers. Who can forget when the Ags took down LSU for the first time since joining the SEC in a seven-overtime thriller at one of the best games to ever take place in Kyle Field? I sure won’t, for a very long time.
In the final game of the regular season, A&M scored eight touchdowns with 521 total yards. In a game where the Ags had a 0.2 percent chance of winning with 20 seconds left, Jimbo and team pulled out one of the most clutch performances I have ever witnessed from Aggie football.
The Aggies finished the season second in the SEC West and undefeated in the SEC at Kyle Field…two things that were never accomplished by this program under Kevin Sumlin.
Jace finished the season with the second most receiving yards by a tight end in the country, as well as more yards per reception and more touchdowns than any other TE in college football. He was also 7th in the SEC in total receiving yards, being the only tight end in the top ten in this category.
Trayveon had his best season to date, leading the SEC with 1,524 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. He also tied for third in the country and eighth in the country in total rushing yards and total rushing touchdowns, respectively.
Braden Mann’s season was unbelievable. Mann led the nation with a 51.1 average punt, almost three yards more than the runner up. He also averaged 60.8 yards per punt against Alabama while punting five times, which set an NCAA record. Mann also broke the NCAA record for most 60 yard punts in a season with 14, breaking the previous record set in 2005. Against Kentucky, Mann punted for 82 yards, which is the third longest punt by a kicker in Texas A&M History.
All three of these players had incredible seasons, and played a huge role in a lot of the Aggies’ success on the field this year.
In Jimbo’s first season the Texas A&M football program improved. On both sides of the ball, the Ags have looked like a more complete team than it did throughout the majority of Kevin Sumlin’s tenure.
Texas A&M improved in total offense from finishing the season ranked 56th in 2017, to finishing 20th in 2018. Darrell Dickey has proven he can run an efficient pro-style offense that could see easy improvements in the near future.
Total defense also improved drastically from finishing 78th in 2017 to 36th in 2018. Mike Elko has completely taken over this defense and made it an absolute force when it comes to stopping the run. Under Chavis, the Aggie defense never finished higher than 71st in rushing defense… under Elko they finished second.
Overall, the improvements made this season by the coaching staff have been phenomenal and it is easy to see that this pattern of improvement should continue into next season. Not to mention, this season is not over. With a win in the bowl game, the Aggies will be 9-4 for the first time since Johnny Football. A bowl win would be a huge stepping stone in setting this program in the right direction. Time to BTHO NC State.