There are a lot of words that could be used to describe the Texas A&M football team in 2021. A few that come to mind are unlucky, disappointing, and offense-less. Fortunately, they’ve righted the ship, at least for now.
After a two-game skid, the Texas Aggies have bounced back to win two straight — and they did it against two SEC opponents. The first was against No. 1 Alabama, to whom Jimbo Fisher handed their first loss in over a year. He’d continue this hot streak and take down a solid Missouri squad, leaving no doubt behind.
So with this recent success, questions arise. Specifically, one single question rises above the rest: what changed?
The Texas A&M football team starting winning the turnover battle
I won’t sit here and act like Texas A&M wouldn’t have beaten the Missouri Tigers if they hadn’t won the turnover battle. Heck, the Aggies’ second interception in Tiger territory resulted in a -6 yard drive by A&M and a missed field goal.
Still, the Aggies winning the turnover battle against Missouri is big. Here’s why.
For the five weeks of football leading up to the Alabama game, do you know how many times Texas A&M created more turnovers than its opponent? If you answered “zero,” you were right. Jimbo Fisher’s squad either tied its opponent in turnovers or lost the ball more frequently in each of its first five games.
A bad turnover margin is a huge reason why this team lost against lesser opponents in Arkansas and Mississippi State. The offense was turning the ball over too frequently and the defense wasn’t creating very many turnovers. On a full-season scale, the numbers still look bad for A&M, but they’re slowly moving in the right direction.
In the Aggies’ past two games, they’ve finally won the turnover battle. They haven’t had an outrageously large gap with their opponents, but they bested Alabama 2-1 in that category a week ago, and last night they bested Missouri 2-1 again.
Again, these turnovers don’t even necessarily have to add up to points on the scoreboard — the momentum gained alone goes a long way for a Texas A&M football team that is average on offense at best. If the defense plays well, the offense benefits in a huge way. Heck, the defense benefits in a huge way.
This is best exemplified by bringing up the aforementioned late first-quarter interception by Antonio Johnson. After a big second-and-19 conversion by Missouri, Johnson picked off a pass that stopped the Tigers’ momentum in its tracks. The Mizzou offense seemingly never recovered, as Bazelak didn’t look like himself for the rest of the game.
This turnover resulted in zero points for Texas A&M despite the fact the Aggies were gifted the ball on the Missouri 30 yard line. The best part? It didn’t matter — the momentum shift alone inspired both sides of the ball to play better in the maroon and white.
If Texas A&M wants to keep winning football games, they have to continue to win the turnover battle.