COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — After losing to top-ranked Clemson last week, No. 16 Texas A&M has just one game to correct its mistakes and get ready for the start of Southeastern Conference play with a visit from No. 8 Auburn.
“We need to play well because it’s the next game and that’s the only thing we need to focus on,” quarterback Kellen Mond said. “Coach (Jimbo Fisher) always talks about faceless opponents. It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing and that’s the way we look at it. We’re going to tweak, find out what we did wrong last week and come out with a great week.”
Mond is looking to bounce back after a shaky performance in the 24-10 loss to Clemson where he completed just 57.1 percent of his passes, threw an interception and lost a fumble. He believes that had he made a few more plays early against the Tigers that things could have been different. He was particularly upset with himself for badly overthrowing Camron Buckley on the second play of the game.
“Just a couple of passes that I wish I could have had back,” Mond said. “On the second play I knew right after the play that I missed a touchdown or probably a big gain to Buck and then a drag route that I missed to Kendrick (Rogers). And as a whole I felt like that led to receivers dropping stuff and then some miscommunication between the backs and it kind of went all downhill.”
Fisher likes that Mond is constantly evaluating himself and hopes the rest of the team does the same as the Aggies look to improve before their next test against Auburn.
“We have to create better habits, keep practicing to do that, but we have to learn to capitalize on opportunities,” Fisher said. “When you play the teams of that caliber that are used to winning and having success, when you get those opportunities you’ve got to take them. We had plenty of them and we didn’t make enough of them.”
The Cardinals are no strangers to playing tough nonconference opponents after facing Texas Tech on the road last season. The Red Raiders got a 77-0 win in that game where coach Mike Schultz told reporters this week that several of his starters were injured. The Cardinals lost their next three games after that before getting healthy and winning their last six to reach the first round of the FCS playoffs for the first time in school history.
True freshman running back Isaiah Spiller will make his first start for the Aggies after Jashaun Corbin sustained a season-ending hamstring injury against Clemson. Spiller has looked good in limited action early and ran for 106 yards in Texas A&M’s opener before adding 24 yards rushing and two receptions against the Tigers. Spiller joined the Aggies after running for 1,493 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior last season.
Fisher also expects sophomore Jacob Kibodi and sophomore transfer Cordarrian Richardson to contribute as they move on without Corbin. Fisher often raved about Corbin’s blocking and receiving skills and said his other running backs also have those skills, too.
“All of our backs have really good hands, none of them can’t do that, but obviously Jashaun was doing it to a higher level, more consistent, because he was a starter and he’d been there,” Fisher said. “But those guys are very capable and can do that very well.”
Lamar quarterback Jordan Hoy is a true dual threat, with the junior just as likely to run as he is to pass on each play. Hoy has thrown for 459 yards and three touchdowns and is tied for the team lead in yards rushing with 118 yards and five scores. The senior was named Southland Newcomer of the Year last season when he threw for 654 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 516 yards and seven touchdowns in nine games, with just three starts.