Aggies look to bounce back against Ole Miss after 2 losses
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — After losing two straight games following a three-game winning streak, Texas A&M will try to finish better on Saturday against Mississippi.
The Aggies (5-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) have been outscored 28-0 in the fourth quarter of losses at Mississippi State and Auburn.
“It disappoints me like it does everyone else in that you know that you’re very close,” coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Fisher likes the way the Aggies have adapted to his coaching style this season since he took over for Kevin Sumlin, who was fired last November. But he says his team still must develop the kind of habits that elite teams possess.
“There’s a mentality that goes with things like that that I think we have to learn,” Fisher said. “I’m not disappointed as far as the way their effort is. It’s just that we have to keep learning, we have to keep teaching in what we’re doing … there’s another level mentality-wise and psychological disposition that we have to understand and be comfortable at.”
Texas A&M will face an Ole Miss team looking to snap a skid. The Rebels (5-4, 1-4) enter the game after dropping their last two. Ole Miss led by 3 entering the fourth quarter last week against South Carolina before falling 48-44.
“It’s the attention to detail that gets us over the hump,” coach Matt Luke said. “I think those guys understand that. They’re not happy about losing, and they’re hurting. If you want to win games in this league, the attention to detail has to be there. We can’t give up explosive plays. We can’t turn the ball over in the red zone. We’ve got to do the little things it takes to win in this league.”
Mississippi quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, who leads the SEC in yards passing, was limited in practice this week after hurting his foot against the Gamecocks. Offensive coordinator Phil Longo said he should be ready to go on Saturday. If things change and he can’t play against the Aggies, the Rebels will look to true freshman Matt Corral, who has appeared in three games this season.
“If we need him, Matt’s the guy, but I think Jordan is going to be fine,” Luke said.
STANDING BY MOND
Fisher was asked if he was behind quarterback Kellen Mond after the sophomore threw an interception and lost a fumble in last week’s loss.
“One-thousand percent,” Fisher said. He then added that many factors played into his tough performance against South Carolina.
“We all get caught up in looking at the guy with the ball and not the cause of the play,” Fisher said. “You look at why things are and there are about four or five plays in the game you wish he’d done better … was he perfect? No. Was it his best game? No. But by far (he) was not the (only) reason why any of that happened.”
Mond has thrown for 2,252 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions and has rushed for 288 yards and four more scores.
Mississippi receiver A.J. Brown needs just 63 yards to become the school’s all-time leading receiver. He has 920 yards receiving this season to give him 2,584 and put him in third place in school history and within striking distance of the school’s leading receiver Shay Hodge, who piled up 2,646 yards receiving from 2006-09. Brown, who is projected to be a top-10 pick in next year’s draft, has four 100-yard receiving games this season and has scored five touchdowns.
ON THE GROUND
While Mond has had an inconsistent season, the Aggies have gotten steady production from running back Trayveon Williams, who ranks second in the SEC with 931 yards rushing. He ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns last week for his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and 10th of his career. His work against South Carolina helped the Aggies finish with 220 yards rushing, which were their most against an SEC opponent this season.
“They are very explosive in the run game, and I think that’s where we’ll have to start,” Luke said. “We have a game plan for us to stop the run and then make them beat us throwing the football.”