By Otis Kirk
Texas A&M finished 9-4 in 2018 under Jimbo Fisher and are expected to field a good team again this fall.
The Aggies and Arkansas will meet on Saturday, Sept. 28, at AT&T Stadium home of the Dallas Cowboys. A&M won this battle 24-17 last fall on Sept. 29. The last win in this series for the Razorbacks was Oct. 1, 2011, when they took a 42-38 victory in Bobby Petrino’s last season.
Junior quarterback Kellen Mond returns as one of seven starters on offense. As a sophomore, Mond completed 238 of 415 passes for 3,107 yards, 24 and nine interceptions. Mond also was second on the team in rushing with 149 carries for 474 yards and seven touchdowns. His backup last season, Nick Starkel, is now at Arkansas as a graduate transfer.
The good news for Mond is three of his top four receivers return and all are juniors. Quartney Davis was second on the team last fall with 45 receptions for 585 yards and seven touchdowns. Also back are Camron Buckley (34-474-1) and Jhamon Ausbon (31-375-0). Junior Kedrick Rogers will also be a nice weapon for Mond.
While leading rusher Trayveon Williams is gone sophomore Jashaun Corbin returns after rushing 41 times for 346 yards and a touchdown. He and Mond will be counted on particularly early to get the ground game going.
The Aggies should have a very strong offensive line with four starters returning. Junior Dan Moore at left tackle is one of the elite players in the SEC.
On defense, the Aggies only return four starters. Up front, junior defensive tackle Justin Madubuike is also considered among the best in the SEC. As a sophomore, he had 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks. But he’s the lone starter returning among the front seven.
At linebacker, sophomore Anthony Hines Jr. was a top recruit coming out of high school. He tore his ACL in the second game as a freshman and missed the remainder of the season. If healthy, Hines could be a force.
The secondary was an issue last fall and will need to be fixed this season. The Aggies return three players there who started at times last season.
Texas A&M has one of the best punters in the nation in senior Braden Mann. He won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter last season.
The Aggies have a tough schedule before facing the Razorbacks. They open the season against Texas State, but then go to Clemson. They will then return to College Station to host Lamar and Auburn. Clemson is the defending national champion and sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence will challenge the young A&M defense.