By Michael Southern
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
The most important quality Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher wants his Aggies to display is a willingness to compete no matter the odds or situation.
Even though 22nd-ranked Texas A&M suffered a 45-23 loss to heavily-favored and top-ranked Alabama on Saturday afternoon, Fisher refused to allow his team to concede even in the final seconds.
After falling just two points short against second-ranked Clemson a few weeks ago, the Aggies had no fear about trying to slow down an Alabama team averaging 56.7 points.
Texas A&M stayed tied or within one score most of the first half, before a sudden flurry from the Crimson Tide turned a 21-13 lead into a more comfortable 31-13 advantage at halftime.
“They’re the (defending) national champions,” Fisher said. “They’re the team everyone is shooting for. They keep pressure on you.
“The pressure they keep on you is by adding to the score. We moved the football and had opportunities, but they stay ahead of you two or three scores and keep putting pressure on you as a team.”
In its earlier game against Clemson, Texas A&M fell behind early before rallying in the second half and almost pulling the upset in College Station, Texas.
When someone asked Fisher to compare Clemson to Alabama, Fisher declined to get into specifics about either team.
“They’re both outstanding teams,” Fisher admitted. “I’m just focusing on us getting better.”
The Aggies had no second-half magic against the Crimson Tide, and fell behind even further after mustering just a field goal between two Alabama touchdowns.
“Plain and simple, we have to score in the red zone,” Texas A&M center Erik McCoy said. “We can’t be a field-goal kicking team. We just played a great team. We were able to move the football.
“We were definitely in the game, we just let it slip out of our hands.”
Despite enduring physical punishment and being sacked seven times, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond used both his arm and legs to keep the Aggies from falling too far behind.
In the first half, Mond confused the Crimson Tide defense with checks at the line of scrimmage and draw plays as he rushed for 112 yards.
Alabama adjusted in the second half as Mond was sacked four times and watched his rushing yardage shrink to 98 by the end of the game.
“Every single week, I feel like we can play with anybody,” Mond said. “I felt like we played with them, then we got a little sloppy. A lot of inconsistencies with the offense, and I feel a lot of that is on me.
“It’s going to be real important to see how we come back from this.”