Texas A&M football had one of the better all-around offenses in 2018; with several players returning, could they be even better this season?
Jimbo Fisher took over Texas A&M football looking to overhaul the offensive system to fit his schemes. The styles could not have been more contrasting. Where Kevin Sumlin’s air raid looked to spread the field horizontally to get players the ball in space, Fisher’s physical style is designed to get north and south and win matchups in the vertical passing game.
Fisher actually uses the tight end in formations, even using multiple tight ends at times. He leans on the running game to set up the pass. Rather than use one personnel with several formations and plays, he mixes up looks and runs similar plays from different personnel and formations.
One word to describe the difference in philosophy? Physicality. Boy, did the Aggies have that in spades.
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The offensive line was a major concern heading into the 2018 season. Outside of Erik McCoy, there wasn’t another player from the unit who inspired much confidence. Then-offensive line coach Jim Turner and Fisher rectified this and they become one of the better units in the SEC. They were No. 21 at 219 rushing yards per game and averaged 5.29 yards per carry. Contrast that to the year before when they were No. 77 with 155.6 rushing yards per game at 4.0 yards per carry.
One area they will have to clean up is pass blocking. They went from 2.23 to 2.69 sacks allowed per game from 2017 to 2018. However, much of this can be attributed to Mond being almost too patient in the pocket. He was quick to scramble as a true freshman.
The running game fixed a lot of the issues from the 2017 team and the 2018 group was one of the best offenses in the country. A&M finished No. 19 in points (36.0) and No. 15 in yards per game (471.6), No. 23 in yards per play (6.26), No. 3 in time of possession (34 min), and converted just over 41 percent of their third downs.
You could also attribute the improvement directly to Kellen Mond, who played lights out for most of the season and is an incredible leader. Bleacher Report ranked the Top 10 offenses for the 2019 season and had Texas A&M football in the No. 8 slot. Here is part of what they said about the Ags:
"Jimbo Fisher had little difficulty adjusting to his first year of coaching in the SEC. Save for a road game against Mississippi State’s elite defense, the Aggies had at least 375 yards and 20 points in every game last season. They ended the 2018 campaign on a four-game winning streak, averaging 502.5 yards and 51.3 points. This should be one of the best offenses in the best conference."
This is high praise considering some of the other offenses on the list.
Fisher will have a hell of a time replacing Trayveon Williams, but the offensive line could be even better with three starters returning plus a fourth who saw significant playing time as a backup in 2018. We should also expect a natural progression from Mond and his outside weapons, all of whom return from 2018. This offense has potential to be lethal.