Big game from Christian Kirk spurs Texas A&M past Arkansas

Texas A&M Christian Kirk
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

To say the annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game at AT&T Stadium is interesting is an understatement, and Saturday’s matinee was no different. The Aggies won 50-43 in overtime, the third time in four seasons it went to overtime and the fifth time in seven seasons at least one of the teams scored 40 points.

Here are three takeaways from Texas A&M’s victory.

1. Christian Kirk is back

One of the most electric players in college football got off to a slow start this season, with two touchdowns through three games and no gain longer than 37 yards on his 23 touches. This was in large part because of true freshman QB Kellen Mond still settling into the offense.

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Saturday, though, Kirk broke out. He had eight touches and scored on three of them. In the first quarter, Kirk snuck behind the Arkansas defense and caught a perfectly placed pass from a scrambling Mond for an 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown. He had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give the Aggies a 40-36 lead with 5:10 left in the game, then scored the game-winning TD in overtime on a fade route from Mond.

Kirk finished with 246 all-purpose yards and the three touchdowns.

Mond showed he is making strides

Mond was far from perfect, going 14-of-27 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but he did look to be in command of the offense for the first time since being inserted as the starter.

Mond really began to look comfortable midway through the second quarter, as he kept the ball on the option and outran the Hogs’ defense for a 90-yard touchdown. Well, it should’ve been a touchdown. Mond was ruled out at the 10, even though he clearly stayed in-bounds; an official blew the play dead, so it could not be reviewed.

Mond also hit multiple big-time throws in key moments, and showed the ability to connect on the deep ball. The more Mond shows the ability to take the top off defenses, the easier it should be for running backs Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams. They combined for 174 yards and three touchdowns.

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While questions remain on defense, the pass rush delivered

It was a rough day overall for John Chavis’ defense. The Aggies surrendered 43 points and let the Razorbacks run up and down the field early in the game. Coming into the game, Texas A&M hadn’t allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards; Arkansas eclipsed the century mark in the first quarter and finished with 226. The Aggies most shore up the pass defense moving forward. Just like UCLA, Arkansas was able to utilize the tight end over the middle throughout the game.

But the pass rush was working. A&M finished with six sacks and kept good pressure on Austin Allen throughout. Junior end Landis Durham had seen little action going into the season, but he had two sacks Saturday, bringing his season total to 3.5. That production must continue as the Aggies head into the meat of the SEC schedule.

(You can follow Dalton Hughes on Twitter @_DaltonHughes)

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