Another fast start for the Aggies led to another victory, as the 30-17 win moved A&M to 5-0 on the season. Each week we tackle three things we learned from the game.
This A&M team is better than last year's A&M team.
This year's and last year's Aggie football teams started 5-0, so maybe we should wait for the performance versus Alabama before we jump to conclusions. But the Alabama game was always going to be huge for A&M, a chance to avenge a bad loss from last year.
By beating Mississippi State, the Aggies didn't just beat a team that had bested them the prior year, they beat a good team. A team loaded with upperclassmen on their two deep, a team that spent a few weeks last year ranked #1 in the nation, a team that featured a quarterback on the short list for the Heisman Trophy entering the season.
The Aggies beat Mississippi State with both their defense and offense. Defensively, they held a good Bulldogs offense to just 17 points. Offensively, the Aggies scored 30 points and gained over 500 yards on a defense that had not allowed more than 21 points and 415 yards all year. And they did it without Otaro Alaka, Speedy Noil, Jeremy Tabuyo, and for half the game, Ricky Seals-Jones.
Alabama will still be favored over A&M, and may very well beat the Aggies at Kyle Field, but A&M has shown that they are a more complete team in 2015 than they were in 2014. And the good news is, they are getting better.
Kyle Allen has earned complete trust from his coaches.
This is evident by more than just the fact that for the first time this year, Allen was on the field for every snap on Saturday. The most noteworthy example of this trust occurred when A&M elected to go for it on 4th and goal from the one yard line, and after three runs had left the Aggies short, they called a pass play.
Getting seven points was critical for the Aggies there, and when they were in need of one yard with no more options, they turned to Kyle Allen. And he rewarded them, buying time with his feet when the initial options weren't open and ultimately making a clutch touchdown pass to Ricky Seals-Jones.
Combine that single play with the fact that Allen has only thrown one interception in the last four games (after throwing at least one in each of his first six starts), and it is apparent that his decision making and command of the offense have grown by leaps and bounds.
The result of all that, through five games, is that Allen has been the best quarterback in the SEC this year. He leads the conference in touchdown passes and passer rating, and is in the top 10 nationally in both categories. If he continues to play great football, the Aggies are capable of reaching the playoffs this year.
The A&M defense is bending... but they haven't broken.
Despite giving up chunks of yards at times, Texas A&M has only allowed 17, 21, and 17 points against the three Power 5 opponents they have faced this year. That's just 18.3 points per game allowed. By comparison, in 2014, every single Power 5 team A&M played scored at least 23 points, and eight of the nine scored 28 or more.
The impact of defensive coordinator John Chavis has been big in many ways, but the biggest has been in the defense's ability to keep points off the scoreboard. That's obviously the defense's main objective, but the success A&M has had in that area despite still having defensive deficiencies has been a surprise.
I look forward to seeing updated efficiency numbers on the Aggie defense. Going from bottom of the barrel to middle of the pack in turnovers forced has helped. If A&M can continue to tighten up when teams get in the scoring zone, while still improving in the basics of Chavis' scheme, it will go a long way towards accelerating the timeline of success for this team.