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Texas A&M Football

Learned, Loved, Loathed: Texas A&M 41, North Carolina 27

January 3, 2021
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Texas A&M’s 41-27 Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina was enlightening.

We knew A&M had great team speed but learned it included the coaching staff.

Postgame attempts to douse coach Jimbo Fisher in Gatorade were among several things to love as A&M (9-1) closed its 2020 football season with an eighth consecutive victory.

What we learned

Devon Achane needs more carries: Achane had carried the football just 31 times before the Orange Bowl. He got 12 against North Carolina and averaged 11.6 yards while rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He completed his freshman season with 364 rushing yards. He averaged 8.4 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns.

Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports
Fisher kept his head on a swivel and was able to stay dry, dodging multiple Gatorade baths.

Never give up on this A&M team: Quite frankly, the Aggies appeared to be in trouble after giving up a 75-yard touchdown pass and falling behind 27-20 early in the fourth quarter. North Carolina had the momentum. A&M had managed just three points on its previous three series. Then, the Aggies responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive for a game-tying 4-yard touchdown run by Kellen Mond. Later, they added two Achane touchdowns.

Jimbo Fisher doesn’t just talk fast: The coach can move fast, too. He showed Achane-like quickness to evade Camron Buckley, who was trying to give him the ceremonial Gatorade dousing.

What I loved

A&M’s running back tandem: Isaiah Spiller and Achane may be the SEC’s premier one-two punch next season. Spiller rushed for 1,036 yards and was a first-team All-SEC selection. Achane is a big-play threat every time he touches the football. They combined to rush for 1,400 yards this season while averaging over 6 yards per carry. They support each other, too. Achane never campaigned for more carries. When he scored on a 76-yard touchdown run to give A&M a 34-27 lead, Spiller was among the first to congratulate him.

Ainias Smith’s big-play ability: Smith has been a major threat all season. He concluded his sensational sophomore season with six catches for 125 yards. He had a 31-yard catch on a drive that produced a field goal. He also had an 18-yard catch on another field goal drive. Smith added a 54-yard catch to set up a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

North Carolina managed just 15 total yards in the last 10 minutes of the game. That included a fourth-and-1 stop by Jayden Peevy and Antonio Johnson that gave A&M the football at the North Carolina 34-yard line. The Aggies also had three sacks in that span.

Crunch time defense: The Aggies’ defensive unit gave up some big plays, which is likely to happen against a quarterback of Sam Howell’s caliber. However, A&M’s defense was suffocating when it mattered most. After falling behind 27-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Aggies clamped down on the Tar Heels. North Carolina managed just 15 total yards in the last 10 minutes of the game. That included a fourth-and-1 stop by Jayden Peevy and Antonio Johnson that gave A&M the football at the North Carolina 34-yard line. The Aggies also had three sacks in that span.

What I loathed

Penalties: A&M was flagged nine times for 87 yards in losses. Penalties nullified a Brian George interception in the end zone and a 26-yard run by Kellen Mond. The Aggie defense was penalized for grabbing the face mask and unsportsmanlike conduct on North Carolina’s first scoring drive.

The double standard A&M has faced all season: The hypocritical national media routinely touted teams like Notre Dame while claiming A&M’s wins were not impressive enough despite the Aggies winning their last seven games by double figures. Don’t be surprised if some media dismisses A&M’s victory because North Carolina had four players opt out while ignoring that A&M cornerback Myles Jones and linebacker Aaron Hansford did not play.

Busted coverages: North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell is likely a future NFL first-round draft choice. He makes plays, and he’ll make defenses pay for mistakes. That was the case with the Aggies. Erick Young got caught up in traffic and was unable to cover a wheel route that resulted in a 10-yard Howell touchdown pass. Leon O’Neal allowed Josh Downs to get behind him on a 75-yard touchdown pass.

Discussion from...

Learned, Loved, Loathed: Texas A&M 41, North Carolina 27

16,066 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by gilmunoz
Azariah
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AG
The media cannot cheapen A&M's win over NC without simultaneously cheapening ND's win over Clemson.
OXDL45
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AG
Good stuff Olin!
NyAggie
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AG
Quote:

The media cannot cheapen A&M's win over NC without simultaneously cheapening ND's win over Clemson.
but they will anyway

And they will pump OU's win over a severely depleted and unmotivated Florida team while not giving us due credit for beating a very motivated unc team

Ol Rock
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AG
How about that block by Achane where he upended the rusher. Mond delivered a strike on that play. A lot of young running backs struggle blocking. That was a great play by Achane that might deserve a mention.
BuckshotJ
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That was a heck of a block!
Meximan
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Ol Rock said:

How about that block by Achane where he upended the rusher. Mond delivered a strike on that play. A lot of young running backs struggle blocking. That was a great play by Achane that might deserve a mention.

Smith, Achane and Spiller are all triple threats: great hands, great runners, and great blockers. This is an unbelievably talented backfield.

Hail the Hydra
gilmunoz
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Mind you, Spiller and Smith are sophomores. Achane is a Freshman. The next two years, with this trio in play, are going to be very exciting!
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