After loss last year, Mond looks to lead A&M over Clemson
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Kellen Mond and Texas A&M nearly upset Clemson last season.
Now that Mond has another shot at the Tigers, he’s looking to do even more than he did last season to help the 12th-ranked Aggies win.
Mond threw for a season-high 430 yards with three touchdowns in that 28-26 loss last season, coming a 2-point conversion short of sending it to overtime.
“Seeing how we played against them, a two-point game and just seeing all the opportunities we left on the field,” he said. “Seeing where we are and all the opportunities we had, we felt we could have beat them.”
To come away with a win against the top-ranked defending national champions this time around they’ll have to figure out a way to get over their road woes after winning just one of four true road games last season.
“It’s one of the best places to play college football,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s Death Valley. It’ll be loud. A lot of orange. If you like orange, there’ll be a lot of that.”
Fisher was asked if Mond will have to have another huge game for the Aggies to pull off the upset. The second-year coach isn’t worried about his quarterback’s statistics, but did acknowledge that as a leader Mond will have to set the tone for the team.
“He needs to play well for us and … make great decisions, be accurate with the ball,” Fisher said. “Play the play that’s there. Play smart, play tough, play aggressive … that’s how he’s got to play, the guys around him got to play. But you have to have your quarterback play well. There’s no doubt. But that’s every week.”
Mond is a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes dwells on the things he didn’t do well rather than basking in his successes following games. He went over the mistakes he made in last year’s game against the Tigers this week and lamented an interception he threw in a blowout win against Texas State in the opener last week.
Fisher loves that Mond is constantly evaluating himself and looking for ways to get better and raved about how much he’s grown in the time he’s been in charge of the team.
“He’s really become a student of the game. Not that he didn’t know before, but he was young,” Fisher said. “Now he’s understanding how a quarterback has to prepare and the amount of decisions and knowledge which he has to have to make those decisions, and how important they are. The big thing is learning to truly appreciate that he touches the ball every play and he can change the game on every play, but sometimes changing it by not doing something wrong.”
Mond is also feeling more comfortable this year because of some things he worked on in the offseason that he feels like have made dealing with the pass rush easier.
“I pride myself on a lot of footwork stuff, just keeping my same base and always got to, no matter what, trust your offensive line and back to pick something up,” he said. “Obviously, I know I’m going to get hit sometimes, but you’ve just got to trust your eyes and feel the rush.”
And in the second year in Fisher’s offense, Mond and Texas A&M’s receivers are really starting to get in sync and are excited to see what they’ll be able to do together. Mond did a good job of spreading the ball around in the opener and both Quartney Davis and Jhamon Ausbon finished with more than 70 yards receiving each and both players had a touchdown reception.
“The receivers, we’re all on the same page and, you know, we rep these plays and we know exactly what they’re going to run,” Mond said. “I (am) able to trust my receivers and they do exactly what they were supposed to do.”
But he knows that even though they looked good in the opener, they’ll have to play as close to a perfect game as possible if they hope to handle the Tigers this week.
“I thought our physicality was pretty good (against Texas State),” Mond said. “But I feel like it’s going to have to get better for (Clemson). We’re striving for excellence and it takes everybody. So even I’ve got to play better. I can’t have a turnover in the red zone. It’s going to take everybody to beat Clemson.”