Kellen Mond put on an absolute clinic vs. Clemson on Saturday night and grew up before a nation’s eyes.
There was a quarterback debate at Texas A&M between Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond. Aggies fans may not have known if either was the answer for new head coach Jimbo Fisher, but after the Aggies came one play away from pushing Clemson to overtime, the answer is clear, Mond is a star in the making.
Clemson ended up winning 28-26 after Mond threw an interception on the two-point conversion that would have tied the game with less than a minute on the clock. It’s a shame his final pass of his breakout game is an interception because he played his heart out on the national stage and almost pulled off the biggest upset of the short season.
Mond finished with 430 yards passing on 23-of-40 passing and three touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 33 carries.
If you’re an A&M fan, the loss stings to be sure, but you have to feel so much better about the direction of this team under Fisher after seeing what he did against a Clemson defense that is loaded with four linemen who could be first round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
He was resilient in the face of pressure all night and showed the grit and intangibles you need from the most important position in sports. I thought it would be a long night for Mond and the Aggies against Clemson, but I came away so impressed with Mond and his teammates that my whole perception of this team has changed from my preseason expectations.
I thought Year 1 would be a bit of a bumpy ride for Fisher, but the effort his team showed tonight suggests he’s already gone a long way changing the country club culture that was a reason Kevin Sumlin was fired.
Mond won’t throw for 400-plus yards every game, but the biggest takeaway from his performance is he’s good enough to keep them in just about every game they play this year. That includes the game against Alabama on Sept. 22. If they can do this vs. Clemson, they can do it vs. Alabama.
This loss will sting as they get back to practice this week, but it’ll be a source of motivation to keep this team grinding and to believe in Fisher’s approach that his process will work.
Helping Mond was his receivers, Kendrick Rogers who led the team with seven catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including the one that put A&M in position to tie it with a two-point attempt.
There’s no such thing as a moral victory, but this is about as close as you can get to it.