The Texas A&M Aggies (3-1) take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (2-2) at Kyle Field on Saturday night. While most are looking at the matchup under center between Kellen Mond and Feleipe Franks, it might just be the running backs that will be the difference.
Aggies Living Up to Potential
Texas A&M has looked the part in the first few weeks of the college football season. Aggies played two top-five opponents including a victory against at the time No. 4 Florida two weeks ago. Leading the way has been their quarterback, Kellen Mond. He has passed for almost 1,000 yards with a 9-2 touchdown to interception ratio. Mond has done just enough to win games. When he needed to score 40 to beat the Gators he delivered. The weapons around Mond have stepped up as well. Wydermyer, Smith, Lane, and Chapman all have over 100 yards receiving. Ainias Smith and Caleb Chapman also combined for six touchdowns.
The offense is far from just a passing offense. Aggies have shown the ability to pass and run effectively. Isaiah Spiller has rushed for 439 yards and four touchdowns. Spiller’s best game came against Florida tallying up 177 yards and two touchdowns. He will be the difference in the game. Arkansas will look to slow the passing and running threat of Mond leaving lanes for Spiller to run through.
Aggies Tough Run Defense
The Aggies have the seventh rank rushing defense in the nation. They allow an average of 2.75 yards per carry and 75.5 yards per game. The defense let up a 100-yard rushing game once against Alabama, however, did not let up a 100-yard rusher. The Crimson Tide’s top runner, Najee Harris, could not even get 50 yards rushing. Harris did cross the end zone twice. Those were two of only three rushing touchdowns the Aggies have given up this season.
It looks to get better as they face a team in Arkansas that has found difficulty in running the football.
Go As Far As Franks Can Take Them
Arkansas is exceeding expectations with the help of their new transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks. In fact, the offense is nothing but Franks and the passing game. The offense has passed for 977 yards compared to rushing for only 407 yards. Franks doing a great job despite behind a sub-par offensive line. In four games he has been sacked 10 times almost three per game. Franks at Florida was known to spread the ball around to many of his receivers. As a Razorback, he continues the trend with four receivers catching over 10 passes for over 100 yards receiving.
Highest passer rating among SEC QBs this week:
1. Matt Corral, Ole Miss – 152.2
2. Mac Jones, Alabama – 138.4
3. Kyle Trask, Florida – 126.1
4. Feleipe Franks, Arkansas – 117.0 pic.twitter.com/TePyIxYesA
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 4, 2020
Franks will have to step up once again. So for an offense struggling to run the ball, it does not get any easier against a top-10 run defense. Trelon Smith takes a majority of the carries but Rekeem Boyd and A’Montae Spivey have also taken snaps in the backfield. Smith in four games rushed for just 221 yards and zero touchdowns. In total the offense has one rushing touchdown from Boyd.
The Journey Only Gets Harder
If Arkansas wants to be in the race this is an important game because the road does not get any easier. Their last five games of the season are against Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Missouri and Alabama. Out of those five opponents, two are ranked in the AP top 10.
Texas A&M’s schedule includes South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU, and Auburn. None of which are ranked in the top 25 but are still tough opponents for any team.