For the final time in 2019, the LSU Tigers will spend a Louisiana Saturday night in Death Valley.
But it won’t be the final SEC game for LSU, as the Tigers clinched the SEC West and a spot in the SEC Championship game December 7 in Atlanta. But before LSU can play for its first SEC championship in eight years, there’s one tiny bit of business the Tigers need to take care of.
The Texas A&M Aggies are making the return trip to Baton Rouge after last season’s controversial, seven overtime classic that saw LSU come up short 74-72. Texas A&M has had a brutal schedule this season, having played Clemson and Georgia on top of Alabama and Auburn. A&M is 0-4 in games against ranked opponents this year; LSU is trying to make it 0-5 and end the regular season undefeated. Oh, and maybe repay A&M for the shenanigans of last season’s wild game. To get us ready for A&M, Rush from Good Bull Hunting partook in this week’s questions.
1. It feels like everyone associated with the LSU football program has been itching to get its shot at Texas A&M after last season’s game. The Tigers are out for blood to be frank. What’s A&M’s mindset coming into this game?
I think the mindset is “we’re tired of everyone talking about how tough our schedule is and how we’ve been mostly competitive against several top ten teams and all that, we want to finally shock the world and pull off the upset” or something similar. Hey, it’s a mindset.
2. Is there any brewing buyer’s remorse towards Jimbo in College Station? The Aggies are 2-6 against ranked opponents under Fisher and 0-4 this year. A&M can’t be thrilled with investing $75 million for that?
/pushes up reading glasses..”WELL...” Look, the things you typed are true. However, this year’s schedule has been feast or famine. When you say “ranked,” we’re not talking about any 22nd-ranked teams. These are all teams that are currently in Playoff discussion, or have been at some point. Would we have loved to have stolen a win against one of them? Hell yes. But we’re not quite there yet. That doesn’t mean there’s buyer’s remorse in College Station yet.
3. Is the program progressing? A&M finished tied for second in the West last year, and it’s looking like they’ll finish fourth this year with zero wins over teams with winning records. What positives can be pointed to about this year?
Short answer? DEFENSE. Elko’s squad is playing tremendous ball. Long answer? Go read any of the billion Aggie Twitter responses to Barrett Sallee’s tweet about progress to get a finger on the pulse of our fanbase’s more reactionary side.
4. Over the summer Kellen Mond declared himself the best quarterback in the SEC. Since then, Joe Burrow’s waged a personal war against all the SEC passing records. But let’s talk about Mond, his completion percentage has gone up and he should equal his passing yards from last season. How has Mond progressed?
I’m no expert, but I know this: Mond is the glue that holds the offense together. Replacing both a record-setting running back and a record-setting pass catcher was always going to be tough, but losing an explosive starter like Jashaun Corbin for the season in week 2 against Clemson was brutal. Mond has had his ups and downs this year, but his performance in the fourth quarter against Georgia was the best we’ve seen him play all season. Whether or not he can carry that forward to this weekend is the question everyone would like answered.
5. How confident are you that the A&M receivers can match up against Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley Jr.?
I’m probably about 50 percent confident. Jhamon Ausbon has been Mr Dependable, so I’m not worried about him. The rest of the wide receiving corps has been streaky, so it depends on whether or not they show up. The wildcard is true freshman tight end Jalen Wydermyer, who has been an absolute bulldozer this year, so if we can create mismatches for him that’d be greeeeat.
6. We ran for more yards last Saturday than A&M did against Georgia. The Aggies were held to -1 yards on the ground. How do they try and fix that for Saturday?
I’ll have y’all know that by the time the Georgia game ended, I was considerably further back from the TV than when it started, so that claim may be a bit specious in my case. But yes, negative yards are bad, tremendously bad. I think you fix it by getting Mond involved early on planned runs and using more of the two-back sets with Spiller and Richardson, and maybe not waiting so long to turn Mond loose in the passing game. Also, some improvement in pass protection from the offensive line would be just super.
7. If there’s a way to slow down the LSU offense we have yet to see it. If A&M is able to stop LSU, how will it be done?
Grit, meanness, sure tackling, and a good bit of luck. And possibly some “cramping” issues if you know what I mean. Part of our solid defensive performances against South Carolina and Georgia relied on “hope the QB has a terrible game” and it worked in those cases, but something tells me that’s not gonna fly on Saturday.