Texas A&M in 2018: The Basics
Record (SEC): 8-4 (5-3)
S&P+ rank: 19
Best win: 74-72 over S&P+ No. 15 LSU
Worst loss: 28-24 at S&P+ No. 18 Auburn
S&P+ rank: 19
Total offense (rank): 465.8 (19)
Yards per play: 6.08 (43)
Yards per pass att.: 7.6 (54)
Yards per rush att.: 4.85 (34)
QB Kellen Mond: 2,967 yards passing, 23-8 TD-INT, 57.9 comp%, 389 rushing yards, 6 rush TD
RB Trayveon Williams: 1,524 rushing yards on 6.1 per carry, 15 rushing scores
TE Jace Sternberger: 47 receptions for 804 yards and 10 scores
Texas A&M’s offense is the strength of the team primarily because of the unit’s efficiency both through the air and on the ground. The Aggies rank among the top 25 in both rushing S&P+ and passing S&P+
But the Aggies have had their issues giving up significant negative plays to stall drives: 19.1% of their run plays have been stuffed, a rate that ranks just 72nd. And they have allowed a sack on 7.4% of all standard down plays, a rate that ranks 112th.
To be sure it’s an effective offense in general, but it will occasionally self-destruct when those negative plays strike. They rank just 87th in points per drive inside the opponent 40.
Unfortunately, NC State’s defense has been only average in terms of stuff rate on run plays and sack rate on standard downs—can the Wolfpack be disruptive enough up front to consistently get the Aggies off track? And do it without Germaine Pratt?
S&P+ rank: 42
Total defense (rank): 353.8 (34)
Yards allowed per play: 5.94 (87)
Yards allowed per pass att.: 8.5 (113)
Yards allowed per rush att.: 3.19 (9)
LB Otaro Alaka (out): 79 tackles, 14.5 TFL
S Donovan Wilson (out): 66 tackles, 2 INT
DE Kingsley Keke: 10.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks
The offense showed off some nice balance in effectiveness, but the defense, eh, not so much. The Texas A&M defense ranks 14th in rushing S&P+ and 88th in passing S&P+. In conclusion, Texas A&M is a land of contrasts. Thank you.
While the Aggies are missing a key player at linebacker and safety, they will have their starting front four ready to go, and they have accounted for 37.5 tackles for loss between them. This is an unfortunate matchup for NC State’s dreadful ground attack.
On the bright side, it is strength-on-weakness for State in the passing game, where the Aggies have been poor in terms of both efficiency and in limiting explosive plays. The x-factor is that defensive line: A&M has an excellent sack rate on pass plays and passing downs, so you can bet the Pack’s excellent pass protection will be tested.
If Finley has time, he should find plenty of success; if those defenders are in his kitchen on the regular, it’s gonna be a problem.
A&M Special Teams
I would be remiss if I did not mention A&M punter Braden Mann, who is averaging 51.2 yards per punt this season, which leads all FBS punters by nearly three full yards. He broke the NCAA record for 60+ yards punts this season with 14. He’s a legit weapon who has had the A&M defense in good field position all year.
Texas A&M’s kick return game is also outstanding, which is worrisome given that, y’know, Kyle Bambard is not exactly a touchback machine. Jashuan Corbin has handled most of the kickoff returns and averages nearly 31 yards per return, and he’s taken one to the house. Eep.