Texas A&M gets ULM before trip to No. 1 Alabama
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M doesn't have a lot of time to worry about its loss to No. 2 Clemson with just one game before the Aggies travel to face top-ranked Alabama.
First, they host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday with a chance to work on some things before that Sept. 22 trip to Tuscaloosa.
Texas A&M gave the Tigers a scare last week, losing 28-26 in a game that would likely have gone to overtime had Kellen Mond's 2-point conversion attempt with less than a minute left not been intercepted.
"You have some disappointment and some things you wish you would have done better, but once this film's over with that's gone," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "You can't worry about it. The past's in the past. You learn from it. You move on and you get ready to play Louisiana-Monroe."
The Warhawks, who play in the Sun Belt Conference, enter the game 2-0 after beating Southern Mississippi 21-20 last week. Coach Matt Viator knows his team is facing a huge challenge, and he shared a simple message with his players this week.
"At the least we've got to leave there a better football team and that's at the least," he said. "The only way to do that is you do what you do."
Viator is impressed with how Fisher has already changed the Aggies in his first season there.
"He's taken a football team and totally transformed it into a football team where they can line up toe to toe and really run the football better than Clemson ran the football against that front and hold Clemson to barely over 100 yards rushing," he said.
Despite the meeting with Alabama looming, the Aggies are being careful this week to concentrate on the task at hand and not take Saturday's game lightly.
"We have to prepare every single week the same it doesn't matter who you're playing," Mond said. "So that's the mindset that we're taking. Make adjustments, correct things from the Clemson tape and get better."
Viator has been a visiting coach at Kyle Field before, bringing McNeese State to face the Aggies when he was the team's offensive coordinator in 2001. He has fond memories of that trip and is looking forward to another visit.
"I've been fortunate to go to a lot of places and play and I can't think of one I've enjoyed more than Texas A&M," he said. "Their crowd, of course I like the tradition, the pageantry, the whole deal, it's just a fantastic place to play football."
PILING UP YARDS
Before 2018 the Aggies had never had a 500-yard rushing game and a 400-yard passing game in the same decade. Now just two games into this season they've accomplished both. Texas A&M had 503 yards rushing against Northwestern State in the opener and Mond threw for a career-high 430 yards last week against Clemson. Texas A&M ranks third in the nation, averaging 629.5 yards of offense a game.
Louisiana-Monroe is led on defense by lineman Donald Louis Jr. who had three tackles for losses and two sacks - both career highs - last week. The defense had a lot of big plays and finished with five sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
The Aggies have won all three meetings against Louisiana-Monroe, outscoring the Warhawks 106-47. However, the last time these teams met it was a close game with the Aggies escaping with a 21-16 victory on Nov. 1, 2014.
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Updated September 14, 2018