Kellen Mond made some Alabama players miss on Saturday.
There were also more than enough hits on the Texas A&M quarterback, though.
Mond scrambled for 98 yards against the Alabama defense for the game, but gashed it in the first half. He had a 54-yard run on a draw up the middle to set up Texas A&M’s first touchdown. He gained 34 yards on a counter that set up a field goal in the second quarter.
“They had a good plan against us and they did a good job of executing it,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “When you get an extra blocker in the game and you’re doing quarterback runs, and their quarterback certainly is very effective at doing it, you have to have an extra guy in the box all the time. When you have a passing game like that, it’s kind of hard to play the game that way, because you give up plays in other ways.”
But Alabama tightened down in the second half. Mond gained 121 yards on the ground before halftime, then had just nine rushing yards afterward.
“From the first half to the second half, we have to always keep all the quarterbacks contained,” defensive end Isaiah Buggs said. “We kind of lost focus a little bit but the second half we came back and regained and we made things happen.”
Buggs and his teammates made things happen in the passing game. Alabama finished with seven sacks, the most it had since it recorded seven against Arkansas in 2016. Buggs had three, while outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings had 1.5.
Of those seven sacks, six of them came on series that led to punts or field goals.
“That’s one of the things that contributed to third downs,” Saban said. “We had a lot of long-yardage situations.”
Texas A&M was 3-of-12 on third down for the game. There were also 12 quarterback hurries and a pass broken up at the line of scrimmage.
The pressure started right away, when defensive tackle Quinnen Williams collapsed up the middle on Texas A&M’s second play. He didn’t get a sack, but forced Mond into a pass that was intercepted by a diving Mack Wilson.
“It’s all about affecting the quarterback in many ways,” Buggs said. “Getting sacks, big hits, batted-down balls and pressures, all that stuff is accountable to getting pressure and affecting the quarterback.”
Mond finished the day 16 of 33 passing for 196 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Starting running back Trayveon Williams, who led the SEC with 399 rushing yards entering the day, was held to 32 yards on eight carries. Texas A&M’s running backs had just three carries after halftime, when the Aggies left the locker room down 31-13.
“Defensively, we did a good job on third down when we got them in third down,” Saban said. “I didn’t think we finished the game like we’d like so that we could get an opportunity to play more players out there. Made some adjustments in the game. When they went regular, we started playing nickel some, because they were hurting us with some passes. There’s certainly a lot that we need to work on, there’s a lot we need to improve on.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.