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Texas A&M Football

Achane, Smith and Spiller: A&M's running back trio is a defense killer

December 8, 2020
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Spiller, the Thriller and the Chiller keep making defenses iller.

Sorry for that painful rhyme, but Texas A&M’s rushing triumvirate of relentless Isaiah Spiller, explosive Devone Achane and versatile Ainias Smith are so talented and selfless that it’s almost poetic.

They’ve developed into a three-headed rushing predator which preys on overmatched defenses. Their performances in the Aggies’ 31-20 victory over Auburn last Saturday was a perfect example.

Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics
Achane ran for a career-high 99 yards vs. Auburn.

Spiller slashed through Auburn’s defense for 120 yards. Achane came on to spell Spiller and flashed for 99 yards on just nine carries. Smith smashed into the end zone for a fourth-quarter touchdown that iced the Aggies’ sixth consecutive victory.

As a group, they accounted for 255 of the whopping 313 rushing yards the Aggies accumulated against the Tigers.

They’ve created problems for defenses. They’ve also created a problem for coach Jimbo Fisher. He has to keep his team of racehorses well-fed and happy.

“We know we want to get guys carries,” Fisher said. “We want to get them in certain series of the game.

“Also, you have to be flexible depending on the way the game is going, the flow of the game, the temperament of the game and the way things are happening. We feel very comfortable putting all those guys in at any time.”

The three prize men have accounted for 1,344 yards and have boosted A&M to 30th in the nation in rushing despite facing two opponents — Alabama and Mississippi State — that are ranked among the nation’s Top 25 in rushing defense.

They are evoking memories of 1993 when A&M coach R.C. Slocum juggled future NFL running backs Greg Hill, the late Rodney Thomas and Leeland McElroy. The Aggies amassed 2,577 rushing yards to rank 16th in the nation that season.

“They are playing together. They are getting a chance to have a few plays, and they're making them count.”
- Former A&M RB Greg Hill

“This A&M running back trio reminds me of the three of us when we played in college: Me, Rodney Thomas, God rest this soul, and Leland McElroy,” Hill told TexAgs radio on Tuesday. “They are playing together. They are getting a chance to have a few plays, and they're making them count. They're making it count to a point that it feels like they're supporting each other when they're in the game.”

Back then, two tailbacks were rarely, if ever, in the game at the same time. Slocum also had future NFL fullbacks Cliff Groce and Detron Smith. He rotated his tailbacks to keep them fresh.

Fisher started the season with Smith as the starting running back, but Spiller showed too much when he got in the same to take him out.

Fisher moved Smith to receiver but sometimes shifts him back to running back. That was a brilliant, if not obvious, move.

But Achane’s production has surged in the last three games. He’s rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Spiller, who has rushed for 897 yards, had a legitimate chance to lead the SEC in rushing until the cancellation of the game against Ole Miss.

They’re all big-play threats. That inspired a reporter to ask if Fisher can get them all on the field at the same time.

Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics
While a threat out of the backfield, Ainias Smith has seen the bulk of his production this year come as a receiver.

“We’ll get in the old Wishbone like Oklahoma,” Fisher joked. “We’ll put one at fullback, two tailbacks. We’ll run the old Bone and come downhill at you. You may give me an idea. Other teams better get ready to prepare for it.”

Why not? The Aggies have used the option effectively, and the 225-pound Spiller has lined up at fullback in the ‘I’. Quarterback Kellen Mond is a capable runner, so this group might be perfect for the Wishbone.

That’s a joke, of course. Still, the idea of getting Spiller, Achane and Smith on the field at the same time isn’t.

Fisher sometimes employs a two-back set with Spiller and Smith in the backfield. He could pair Achane with Spiller and keep Smith at receiver.

That would stress the defense, which already has so much reason to worry. If not this year — only a clash with Tennessee, which has a soft run defense, and a bowl game remains — perhaps next season. Spiller and Smith are sophomores, and Achane is a freshman.

Regardless of how Fisher opts to use his running backs, the monster is still growing.

“It’s always good to have multiple running backs,” Mond said. “All our running backs, even though they have different styles, they can do everything we ask within a play. I trust every one of them. They all do a very good job.”

A good job? That’s an understatement.

Spiller, Thriller and the Chiller aren’t just good. They’re killer.

Discussion from...

Achane, Smith and Spiller: A&M's running back trio is a defense killer

5,564 Views | 11 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by TAMU74
ABATTBQ87
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AG
If King is the QB next year then we will have one of the best rushing attacks in the SEC, if not the nation.
tford12
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AG
Achane, Smith, & Spiller.
Or, more concisely, ASS.

Jimbo, Use your ASS!
Ajollyag
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tford12 said:

Achane, Smith, & Spiller.
Or, more concisely, ASS.

Jimbo, Use your ASS!


A&M's ASS my dude.
Gary Busey as Dell
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Quote:

Fisher started the season with Smith as the starting running back, but Spiller showed too much when he got in the same[sic] to take him out.
Pretty sure the reason Smith started the Vanderbilt game was because Jimbo scripted three passing plays to start our season opener to get Mond going and take pressure off the offensive line. Smith excels in pass pro and is also an outstanding receiver out of the backfield, so even though we were in 11 personnel, it was like having 10 personnel on the field. You will remember we opened the season with three consecutive incompletions.
TAMU74
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AG
I'd love to see them setup in the Triple Option.
Brings back memories of Big George Woodard, Bubba Bean, and Skip Walker.
TxAg76
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tford12 said:

Achane, Smith, & Spiller.
Or, more concisely, ASS.

Jimbo, Use your ASS!

Ain't nothin better than a nice piece of ass....
Foxo
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TAMU74 said:

I'd love to see them setup in the Triple Option.
Brings back memories of Big George Woodard, Bubba Bean, and Skip Walker.
I remember Bubba, Skip with Bucky Sams at full back.
Shoefly!
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ABATTBQ87 said:

If King is the QB next year then we will have one of the best rushing attacks in the SEC, if not the nation.

Depends on the bigs up front, but yes it should be a monster.
Meximan
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The Hydra
Meximan
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ajolly said:

tford12 said:

Achane, Smith, & Spiller.
Or, more concisely, ASS.

Jimbo, Use your ASS!


A&M's ASS my dude.

They deliver a real ASS whoopin'.
TAMU74
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Foxo said:

TAMU74 said:

I'd love to see them setup in the Triple Option.
Brings back memories of Big George Woodard, Bubba Bean, and Skip Walker.
I remember Bubba, Skip with Bucky Sams at full back.
I do as well.
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