After four weeks of the 2019 season, the Texas A&M Aggies offense has struggled to find any traction against top tier teams like Clemson and Auburn. The issues plaguing the Aggie offense can’t be boiled down to one player but fans tend to try and focus on one guy anyways. In this case, as the quarterback is the leader of the offense, often times the blame rests on his shoulders whether warranted or not. I’ve seen a lot of flak sent Kellen Mond’s way, some of it justified, some of it not. One of the biggest questions I’ve seen thrown out there is why haven’t seen Mond use his athleticism and run more. I’ll attempt to answer that question today.
I think one of the first things we have to establish when looking at the usage of Kellen Mond in the run game is that he isn’t an elite runner as a quarterback. He doesn’t have that slippery edge that Johnny Manziel had. He doesn’t have the absolute top tier athleticism that a Lamar Jackson or a Mike Vick possess. He’s not a powerfully built runner at the position like Tim Tebow or Mississippi State era Dak Prescott. He’s a quarterback who possesses the kind of plus athleticism that makes him a threat to defenses, but he isn’t explosive enough to be a game-changing ball-carrier, nor does he have the vision of an elite runner. However, this isn’t the NFL. It doesn’t take being the best of the best to be an effective running quarterback in college football. So why isn’t an athlete like Mond using his legs more?
One of the biggest factors in Kellen Mond’s hesitancy to run is likely the coaching of Jimbo Fisher. I think most of us likely had our suspicions that Fisher had encouraged Mond to attempt to cut back on running the ball. Fisher’s recent radio show all but confirmed these suspicions. Fisher brings up a lot of different reasonings for why Mond isn’t running, including that it means he isn’t getting through his reads and finding his second or third option and that running leads to a broken down body. He’s not wrong in either assessment. However, I believe it goes beyond that.
Jimbo Fisher’s offensive system is one that has been proven to work multiple times. However, I don’t believe A&M currently has the personnel for it to work as well as he wishes or as it can and I think a failure to adapt to personnel is part of the anemic offensive production we’re seeing. In a perfect world, Kellen Mond would be able to sit back, make the correct reads, and deliver the ball to his receiver 70% of the time with those receivers making the catches. Between Kellen Mond not having that true NFL-style arm, the offensive line allowing pressure, and the receivers struggling with drops in key situations, the Aggies are far from a perfect world. Add to that the fact that the losses of Erik McCoy, Trayveon Williams, and Keaton Sutherland are clearly impacting the run game and it’s obvious that Jimbo’s system isn’t working for the Aggies in 2019.
So how do the Aggies inject some life back into the offense? Let’s circle back to the issue of Kellen Mond not running. Teams have clearly keyed in on the fact that Mond isn’t in a hurry to run the ball. They aren’t respecting a possible read option, nor are they leaving defenders as spies to keep Mond contained in the pocket. I share Jimbo’s concern for Mond’s future but at the end of the day Texas A&M has to find a way to move the ball and I think a big part of that will be Mond using his legs. Against Arkansas, I’d like to see Jimbo expand the playbook while also encouraging his junior quarterback to use the assets that made him such a highly recruited athlete in the first place. Let Mond have some more designed runs with QB Draw, QB Power, or QB Counter. I don’t think Mond excels in the read option but run it once or twice with explicit instructions for him to keep to force teams to respect his legs. Tell Mond that the reigns are off and he should take off with the ball under pressure instead of trying to fit the ball into a tight window, an area which he doesn’t excel at. Basically, let Mond be more of an instinctual player instead of trying to stick to a system that may not maximize his abilities.
Now, with all of that said, I don’t believe that Mond running will fix all of the issues A&M has on offense. It’s clear that this team isn’t quite where it needs to be in order to be a contender in the SEC. However, Mond’s legs are about the only way I see a spark happening and if that means Jimbo has to change his system for the time being, so be it. The answer to the question on whether or not Mond should run is a clear and resounding yes in my mind.