10 things we learned about Texas A&M football this week as Aggies prepare for challenging schedule

Takeaways from Jimbo Fisher's weekly press conference

Texas A&M University head coach Jimbo Fisher sat down for his first weekly press conference of the season this week and covered everything from his starting quarterback to the new 12th Man.

The Aggies open their 2019 season against Texas State at Kyle Field on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. It will be their second consecutive season-opener on a Thursday.

Here are 10 takeaways from this week’s presser with the coach:

1. It has been a tough camp, but the new players have mixed in well.

Fisher noted that this year’s camp has been challenging, physical and particularly hot although players from any other year would likely argue that their experience in the College Station heat was tougher. Even so, that did not stop the new freshmen from integrating themselves with the team, while the more established players did well to bring them up to speed, Fisher said.

2. Kellen Mond has impressed early in his second year with Fisher.

Quarterback No. 1 has become a student of the game, Fisher said, and it has shown in his football knowledge and preparation. His teammates have come to love and respect Mond, which is crucial for any signal-caller to be successful.

“You’re never the quarterback until your team will go through hell for you,” Fisher said.

Expect Mond to show signs of improvement on the field as he leads the Aggies through this season’s tough schedule, which includes No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and No. 6 LSU.

Fisher said that he has not chosen a backup quarterback yet but that decision will be coming soon.

3. Despite losing two significant players in August, Fisher’s play-calling will not change on offense.

Five-star freshman tight end Baylor Cupp will likely miss the season after breaking his leg in a scrimmage earlier this month, while fullback Ben Miles (son of Les Miles), who was expected to be a contributor on offense this season, transferred to Kansas.

Fisher said that sophomore Glenn Beal and freshman Jalen Wydermeyer have stepped up and been outstanding at the tight end position, while junior Cagan Baldree has proven his worth at fullback.

The coaches did not limit the playbook in camp, and Fisher said he was impressed with what he saw those players do. He does not anticipate changing his play-calling this season.

4. It will likely be running back by committee for Fisher’s offense this season.

The Aggies have some big shoes to fill at running back, as last year’s SEC-leading rusher Trayveon Williams is now with the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL. All five players listed on this year’s depth chart are either sophomores or freshmen.

Fisher said that sophomore Jashaun Corbin, who totaled 346 yards and 5.7 yards per carry last season, is the clear No. 1. Behind him, it will be a revolving door. The coaches will utilize each player’s skill set in certain situations. Fisher said there will be different roles for each of them in different packages.

It will be different for Aggie fans to watch, but it is a style that might pay off in a conference that can wear down running backs over the course of a long season.

5. Fisher is happy with the improvement of his offensive lineman.

Basically, Fisher said that they have become smarter. While also improving physically, the big boys up front have a better understanding of the scheme and where their help comes from.

Fisher took the time to say how impressed he has been with five-star freshman Kenyon Green out of Humble. He has been consistent and physical, and although he makes some freshman mistakes, he does not make the same one twice. 

In a season when the Aggies face the defensive lines of Clemson, Alabama and Georgia, offensive line play will be key for any success.

6. The wide receiver group is coming together.

The Aggies have a good mix of age at the position. Freshmen like Jalen Preston and Caleb Chapman join juniors Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon, Kendrick Rogers and Camron Buckley. Fisher said the young guys have been playing well and he is pleased with the depth the position has, as the group has come together over the last couple of weeks.

Rogers is still day to day with a lower leg injury but is improving.

7. Demani Richardson will be a key part of this team’s defense.

Fisher perked up at the mention of the freshman safety’s name, saying that he is their No. 1 at the position right now. After losing an experienced player like Donovan Wilson, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys, it is important for Fisher and his staff to replenish key positions with starting-caliber talent. It looks like they’ve done that with Richardson, who has had a great camp. Look for the four-star recruit to make some big plays on Saturdays this fall.

8. Cornerback Debione Renfro will miss at least the first game of the season.

It was a surprise to some when Renfro, who started in 11 games each of the last two seasons for the Aggies, was not listed on the depth chart. Fisher kept it short, saying he was suspended for a violation of team rules. He also left open the possibility of the suspension lasting more than one game. Rendro’s absence will push junior Myles Jones, whom Fisher said has done a nice job in camp, into the starting spot.

9. Braden White was chosen as Texas A&M’s new 12th Man.

With fullback Cullen Gillaspia being drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft, Fisher and his coaching staff had been searching for their new 12th Man. They found him in junior linebacker Braden White, out of Florence, Alabama. Despite being redshirted in his freshman season, White was named Scout Team Defensive MVP, illustrating his ability on the field. Fisher said it was a tough decision, but White consistently stood out with everything he does in his life and exemplifies what the 12th Man represents.

10. Fisher and the Aggies are not looking past Texas State.

At least that is what they are saying publicly. The Aggies opened up at home on a Thursday night last year, taking care of Northwestern State 59-7 before playing Clemson to 2 points the following week. Fisher had his team fully prepared.

“We haven’t talked about Clemson one time,” Fisher said.