Players to watch: Alabama vs. Texas A&M

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Players to watch: Alabama vs. Texas A&M

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

Alabama

QB Tua Tagovailoa

There is a very fair argument that Tagovailoa qualifies as a player to watch for the remainder of his career at Alabama, but Saturday could be another game in which records are in jeopardy. Texas A&M’s pass defense has been declining as it gave up 268 pass yards to Clemson on Sept. 7 and 298 yards to Arkansas two weeks ago. The Aggies also do not pressure the opposing quarterback well, as they are near the bottom of the SEC in sacks. A combination of an iffy secondary and pass rush could mean another career day for Tagovailoa.

DL Raekwon Davis

Texas A&M’s offensive line is another position where the Aggies struggle. Their opponents have been getting into the backfield easily, with Auburn recording seven tackles for a loss and three sacks and Arkansas recording eight tackles for a loss and four sacks. Davis has not had the senior season he desired with just one tackle for a loss and no sacks, so this could be the week he finds his rhythm.

LB Shane Lee

Two weeks ago, Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was able to get to the edge easily on his designed runs and scrambles, which kept the Alabama defense on the field longer. Lee has been a quality inside linebacker but has failed to make his presence known on the edge, including against Ole Miss. Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond is a threat both in the passing and running game, so this will be another much-needed test for Lee as he continues to gain familiarity with SEC opponents and works to improve at covering the field from sideline to sideline.

Texas A&M

QB Kellen Mond

Last year Kellen Mond visited Tuscaloosa and threw for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, but he gave Alabama’s defense trouble on the ground with 98 rushing yards despite being sacked seven times. Despite not being a threat on the ground this season, it would not be a surprise if Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher installed designed runs for Mond after his success against Alabama last year and the Crimson Tide’s struggles to contain the quarterback this season.

WR Jhamon Ausbon

Ausbon has been as reliable of a target for Mond as any Aggie this season. He may be one of the Alabama secondary’s toughest tests to date, with a combined 15 catches for 180 yards in his last two SEC games. His ability to make catches in tight windows could pose a problem for the Crimson Tide if Mond can pinpoint his throws. Ausbon ranks last in the SEC in yards after the catch with just 2.76 yards, but his 31 total receptions ranks third in the conference.

LB Buddy Johnson

After the Aggies lost most of their linebacking corps from last year, Johnson has taken control of the defense. He has made an impact in the run game with 5.5 tackles for loss, but he will have to play a role in an effort to stop Alabama’s short slants across the middle of the field. Yards after the catch are where Alabama gives opposing defenses the most trouble, so if Johnson can assist his defensive backs by controlling the middle of the field, the Crimson Tide could have to make major in-game adjustments.