Stay tuned to RadioAlabama Sports as Noah Gardner breaks down each of Auburn football’s 2019 opponents leading up to the season opener. Follow Noah on Twitter at @PointGuardner.
Game History: Texas A&M leads 5-4, but since 2012, Auburn leads the series 4-3. The Tigers have won two consecutive games. Auburn beat Texas A&M last season 28-24.
Grading the Aggies:
2018 Team Stats: 9-4 (5-3), beat NC State 52-13 in the Gator Bowl.
RYPG: 219 (5.3)
SKS allowed: 35
TO DIFF: -7
RYPG allowed: 95 (3.2)
PYPG allowed: 253
Offensive Impact Player: QB Kellen Mond (#11)
2018 stats: 3,107 YDS, 57.3 PCT, 24 TD, 9 INT, 474 YDS, 3.2 YPC, 7 TD
Kellen Mond made major improvements to his game in 2018. A 3,000-yard passer, Mond elevated his game to become more effective in the pocket, but he is still a dual-threat option, rushing for a touchdown in six games last season. The main areas of concern for Mond is his accuracy and his tendency to throw interceptions. At times, Mond could force the issue as he threw six interceptions in conference play. Nonetheless, now a junior with a full year of starts under his belt, Mond is the unquestioned leader of the Texas A&M offense and an explosive talent at the quarterback position.
Defensive Impact Player: DT Justin Madubuike (#52)
2018 stats: 40 TKL, 5.5 SKS, 10.5 TFL, 2 PBU, 3 FF
Justin Madubuike is the lone returner from a stacked defensive line in 2018. Anchoring the unit for the Aggies, Madubuike is capable of making drive-killing plays in the running and passing game. The leader of an inexperienced defense, a lot of eyes will be on him heading into 2019.
Offensive Key Unit: Wide-receivers
It’s not often that an entire unit returns fully intact, but the Texas A&M receiving corps is bringing back its top six wide-receivers. The only player the Aggies have to replace is tight-end Jace Sternberger, who was the team’s leading receiver last season. Nonetheless, the unit is loaded with experience, and many of these players have been with Mond since the beginning, so the chemistry is there. With 1,974 yards and 13 touchdowns returning among the six players, this is one of the underrated groups in the SEC.
Defensive Key Unit: Defensive line
Last season, the Texas A&M defensive line was a dominant force, allowing less than 100 rushing yards per game and sacking the quarterback 37 times. The unit loses a lot of talent, but it will still be the most important unit of an Aggie defense that is hurting for proven talent with its linebackers and defensive backs. An above-average defense at best, Texas A&M will rely heavily on its defensive line to make plays on defense.