Alabama Football: Can the Aggies challenge the Crimson Tide

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Alabama football is in need of a challenge. Can the Texas A&M Aggies provide enough adversity to force the young Crimson Tide defense to grow up?

Going into the 2019 season the second Saturday in October was expected to be a challenge for Alabama football. A rapidly improving group of Aggies under Jimbo Fisher were sometimes slated as capable of an upset of the Crimson Tide.

The season has played out differently. The promised, much-improved TAMU defense of Mike Elko has improved but not enough to carry an offense that has disappointed. With a talented Kellen Mond at quarterback, the Aggies were predicted to be explosive. The Aggies have not exploded enough.

The Aggies have a below-average rushing attack – No. 63 in the FBS yards-per-carry. The result has been too heavy a burden on Kellen Mond. Mond is a true dual-threat and has a strong arm, but against Clemson and Auburn, he did not have enough.

Mond has not delivered when throwing on third down, completing only 48.3 percent of his passes. In NCAA Passing Efficiency ratings, Mond is rated No. 64 in the FBS. That rating puts him slightly above Auburn’s Bo Nix and below the, now benched, Tennessee starter, Jarrett Guarantano.  Mond’s performance has been far below his expectations and those of the Aggies nation. But he could have a breakout game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

With his physical tools, Mond is the kind of mobile QB who could give this Crimson Tide defense fits. So far, the Tide’s pass rush and edge contain have too often been lacking. The inexperience of the inside linebackers has been a problem. That scenario is well-suited to Mond having a big day against the Crimson Tide. He has been patient in the pocket this season, but he has the speed and the leg strength to punish the Tide defense on the ground – especially if the young Tiders give him openings.

Mond has also been a bit loose on some throws, with four interceptions. The strength of the Tide defense is its secondary. Mond may need a clean sheet to keep pace with the high-scoring Crimson Tide offense. In Mond’s favor are three solid receiving targets in Jhamon Ausbon, Quartney Davis and Ainias Smith. Ausbon and Davis are big, physical receivers, in the mold of former Aggies’ star, Mike Evans.

Next. Young players needed for late season depth. dark

Alabama football is favored by more than two touchdowns. Much will be learned about the Crimson Tide defense if the Aggies offense can keep the game competitive.