- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
Texas A&M has now won four consecutive games after a thrilling, 30-27 comeback win over Mississippi on Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. With the Aggies sitting at 4-1 for the season and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play, let's look at the highs and lows of the victory:
1. Poise: With so many breaks going against them and their backs seemingly against the wall, the Aggies showed quite a bit of poise. Winning road games in the SEC isn't easy (especially when you commit six turnovers), but doing so after being down by 10 points and backed up at their own 1-yard line with 7:47 remaining in the game shows a mental toughness that could carry this team for a long time.
2. Offensive line: Again, the Aggies offensive line got it done. Pass protection was consistently good (quarterback Johnny Manziel had plenty of time in the pocket on several occasions) and the running game had its best day of the season as the Aggies compiled 290 yards on the ground, led by Ben Malena's 142. The four sacks in Manziel's stat line are misleading because the redshirt freshman took a lot of time in the pocket and was rarely rushed quickly.
3. Defensive front: Without the play of the Aggies front seven, they don't win this game. Defensive tackle Spencer Nealy was relentless in his effort from start to finish, Damontre Moore picked up another sack and all three starting linebackers made big tackles or big plays. Steven Jenkins had a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown (on pressure provided by Sean Porter) and Jonathan Stewart came up with a huge stop of Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott on fourth-and-short late in the fourth quarter to give the Aggies the ball back at the Rebels' 39 to set up for the game-winning offensive drive.
1. Turnovers: One of the areas the Aggies have excelled in this season is turnover margin. Texas A&M has taken care of the ball all year but on Saturday, that was not the case. After coming into the game with just one turnover, the Aggies committed six. Manziel accounted for three (two interceptions and a fumble) while seniors Dustin Harris, Christine Michael and Ryan Swope each had a fumble of their own.
2. Third-down defense: Another area in which the Aggies have done well throughout the year. The Aggies came in allowing third down conversions just 26 percent of the time, but yielded 47 percent to Ole Miss (9-of-19). The Rebels converted six of their first 11, the Aggies shored up late, allowing just three of the Rebels' last 8 attempts, but total percentage is still higher than where defensive coordinator Mark Snyder would like it.
3. Touchdowns in the red zone: The Aggies were in the red zone three times and came away with just one touchdown. Their three trips yielded 10 total points. That will have to improve.
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1dSam Khan Jr.