In a normal week, Texas A&M players might be reminiscing about facing some familiar faces from Arkansas, led by ex-teammate quarterback Nick Starkel.
To be fair, the Aggies talked about it — a little — heading into Saturday’s game at AT&T Stadium.
Other things took priority for No. 23 A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC) following a 28-20 loss to Auburn.
“It’s very important for us to be honest with ourselves, individually and as an offense, to see what kind of team we are, know what we can do and can’t do, and also understanding that these guys across from us are just the same as us,” junior wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon said. “There’s nothing we can’t do, we’re just not doing it.”
Senior linebacker Buddy Johnson suggested that the players “take a look at ourselves in the mirror.”
Arkansas (2-2, 0-1) would seem to arrive at a good time on the A&M schedule. The Razorbacks are coming off a stunning loss to San Jose State in which Starkel threw five interceptions, then tore up his pregame Justin Bieber tribute shirt that had taken on a life of its own. In his second year, former SMU coach Chad Morris is looking for his first SEC win.
“Did we take a step back on Saturday? Absolutely. Are we all disappointed that we lost on Saturday? Absolutely. Should we have lost on Saturday night? Absolutely not,” Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek told the Little Rock Touchdown Club.
“Chad Morris has our football program headed in the right direction, and we’re just going to have to be more patient than most of us want to be, including myself.”
A&M has won seven consecutive games in the series but four were by a touchdown, three in overtime. With Alabama next after an off week, the Aggies can’t afford not to focus on Arkansas.
Coach Jimbo Fisher offered his own review of where his team stands after Auburn during his Wednesday radio show.
“Did we quit? No. Did we play hard? Yes. Did we play as well as we need to? No,” Fisher said in typical rapid-fire fashion. “At the same time, we’re very close. At the same time, you can say we’re close, but close can be close until you decide you don’t want to be close anymore.
“My point is you got to make your mind up that enough is enough and you got to go get over it. We got good players. We just got to play better. And we have to coach better. … It’s on everybody.”
Fisher said his players were guilty of pressing too much and said that dealing with expectations was part of the maturity process.
In its two losses to Clemson and Auburn, A&M hasn’t scored a touchdown in the first three quarters before finding a rhythm throwing the ball in the final 15 minutes. In the first three quarters of those two games, quarterback Kellen Mond had 286 yards total passing and averaged just 5.3 yards per attempt.
The running game has been ineffective in the two losses, averaging 2.3 yards a carry.
A&M ranks third in the SEC in total defense but has just six sacks in four games while forcing only one turnover in the two losses.
“We’re not happy at all where we’re at,” Fisher said. “Things can be fixed and fixed very quickly. We need to start it this weekend.”