At 3-3, Texas A&M and Fisher stuck in neutral

Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller (28) has the ball stripped away from him by Alabama linebacker Shane Lee (35) for a turnover during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in College Station, Texas.

Texas A&M’s season has reached a turning point. The 3-3 Aggies will show they got better while losing to Top 10 teams, or they will continue their roller-coaster season.

“It’s important to stay as one,” junior wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon said. “This is a time where people drift off and listen to a lot of media, and a lot of negative comment from people’s family, you know, everybody that’s not playing, so it’s very important to stay within the room.”

Ausbon said it’s easy to lose focus because no one expects to lose games. He speaks from experience.

“I know it’s very easy to get discouraged. As a freshman, I was the same way,” Ausbon said.

Ausbon and the other upperclassmen went through a rocky 2017 season that started with A&M blowing a 34-point lead at UCLA and ended with a 55-52 loss to Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl under interim head coach Jeff Banks as current coach Jimbo Fisher looked on.

Fisher went 9-4 in his first season, but at 3-3 in Year 2, some fans are restless. They expect more at $7.5 million per year, despite the Aggies having only five scholarship seniors.

“I want fans to have the expectations to want to be good and wanting to win,” Fisher said. “And we do, too, as coaches.”

Junior linebacker Anthony Hines said he’s not discouraged, nor are his teammates.

“We’re just really looking forward to getting this bad taste out of our mouths and moving on,” Hines said. “We’re a bunch of committed guys, that’s one thing I can definitely say. We don’t take any of this lightly. And we’re definitely looking to get better.”

A&M will have a chance to get much better in the next month playing Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas-San Antonio and South Carolina. Those unranked teams are a combined 11-14.  The players at Monday’s weekly press conference said they’ve learned from their mistakes playing a pair of top-ranked teams in Clemson and Alabama and eighth-ranked Auburn.

“It’s very important we find ourselves and truly learn from this,” Ausbon said. “It can be a really good season, we can go 10-3 from this point on and go to a good bowl and just really learn from this.”

A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Oct. 26 at Kyle Field will kick at 11 a.m. and be televised by the SEC Network. Auburn at LSU will be the CBS 2:30 p.m. game that day. The rest of the schedule is South Carolina at Tennessee, 3 p.m. (SEC Network); Arkansas at Alabama, 6 p.m. (ESPN); and Missouri at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network).

Alabama sophomore Jaylen Waddle was the SEC special teams of the week after returning four punts for 128 yards in the 47-28 victory over A&M.

LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow and Kentucky junior Lynn Bowden Jr. shared offensive player honors. Burrow completed 21 of 24 for 293 yards with three touchdowns in a 42-28 victory over Florida. Bowden made his first start at quarterback in a 24-20 victory over Arkansas. Bowden, who typically plays wide receiver, had 274 total yards. He rushed 24 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning 24-yard touchdown, and he completed 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.

South Carolina sophomore Israel Mukaumu was the defensive player of the week after three interceptions in a 20-17 double-overtime victory over then No. 3 Georgia. He added 11 tackles.  Missouri senior tackle Yasir Durant and Tennessee junior guard Trey Smith were the offensive linemen of the week. Durant helped the Tigers to a season-high 562 yards in a 38-27 victory over Ole Miss. Smith had 11 knockdowns in a 20-10 victory over Mississippi State. South Carolina senior Javon Kinlaw was the defensive lineman of the week with four tackles and a sack. LSU defensive back Derek Stingley was the freshman of the week with six tackles and an interception. 

A&M and Vanderbilt are the only teams which haven’t had a player earn SEC weekly honors this season.

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