Story Poster
Jimbo Fisher
Leon O'Neal
Devon Achane
Nik Constantinou
Texas A&M Football

Correcting offensive line issues crucial for A&M's running game

September 20, 2021
12,921

Identifying a problem is said to be the first step in finding the solution.

Therefore, Texas A&M should be well on its way to solving its running game issues.

The Aggies had one of the country’s most productive rushing attacks during the 2020 college football season, but three games into this season, they’re averaging just 185 rushing yards per game and are ranked a mediocre 44th. Those modest stats were accumulated against Kent State, Colorado and New Mexico, opponents which are suspect in run defense.

That’s cause for much concern with the seventh-ranked Aggies (3-0) opening Southeastern Conference play on Saturday against No. 16 Arkansas (3-0).

“I was pushing the offensive line, pushing tight ends, pushing backs for us running better. It’s four guys are right, and one guy is off. It’s a different guy every time.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

The Aggies produced a pedestrian 154 rushing yards in a 34-0 victory over New Mexico last Saturday. The performance prompted A&M coach Jimbo Fisher to vent frustration in a postgame press conference.

He said the Aggies were not physical enough at the line of scrimmage. He even questioned whether the line — with four new starters from a year ago — was “nasty,” a disgusting trait off the field but a definite asset on it.

At his weekly press conference on Monday, Fisher indicated the problems were easily identified and potentially easy to fix.

“I was pushing the offensive line, pushing tight ends, pushing backs for us running better,” Fisher said. “It’s four guys are right, and one guy is off. It’s a different guy every time.

“It’s not ability. It’s not scheme. They’re technical. They’re fundamental. They’re very easy within the scheme in which we do. We just have to be more consistent.”

The inconsistency has limited the effectiveness of speedy running back Devon Achane. He rushed for 124 yards in the season-opener but has totaled only 79 in the last two games combined.

“I just think we’ve got to be more patient,” Achane said. “We’ve been too anxious to make a big run. I feel like if we take the runs we’re given, the big runs will come later.

“I feel like we’ve just got to work on the details. Fix the little things.”

The offensive line will be working on those little things against some big things this week in practice. Fisher said there would be a lot of work against the starting defensive front.

“We’re going against our own No. 1s on the other side,” Fisher said. "So, we get that two or three days a week. They’ve got to block good people. It’s not just blocking scout team's lives or looks. They have to really focus. We work fundamentals to death. We pound them on the fundamental part of it, and we work good-on-good two or three days a week. I truly believe that allows us to get better.”

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
After not playing vs. New Mexico, Layden Robinson is expected to return to practice this week.

The Aggies should get a boost with the expected return to practice of guard Layden Robinson, who sat out the game against New Mexico with a leg injury.

His return gives A&M its best interior lineman. It also helps with the “nastiness” factor.

Fisher, though, insisted Robinson isn’t the only nasty Aggie lineman.

“They are nasty. They play that way. We coach them that way … In a good way because this game is a physical game,” Fisher said. “Football is a game of imposing your will on those lines of scrimmage. I think that’s what Arkansas has done a great job with. We’re going to have to do that going into this game. That’s for sure.”

All Clear for Achane

The crowd at Kyle Field held its collective breath in the second half last week when Achane was taken into the injury tent on the sidelines.

It turns out it was a precautionary move.

“I’m 100 percent,” Achane said. “They thought it was my knee. They were just making sure it wasn’t something major.”

Demanding More … and Less

Though A&M’s defense is ranked No. 9 in the nation, the Aggies have uncharacteristically given up a few big runs up the middle.

New Mexico running back Aaron Dumas spurted through holes for gains of 18 and 13 yards.

“I feel like we’re the best defense in the country. We’ve got talent on every level. There’s no excuse for failure.”
- A&M safety Leon O’Neal

Fisher noted opponents also have capable players and will make plays from time to time, but senior safety Leon O’Neal said the Aggies should be better.

“It’s unacceptable,” O’Neal said. “I feel like we’re the best defense in the country. We’ve got talent on every level. There’s no excuse for failure.

“We’ve got to do a better job plugging holes up and playing the defense that we know we can play.”

The Aggies are surprisingly ranked 86th against the run.

Constantinou Honored

A&M punter Nik Constantinou was named the SEC Special Teams of the Week for his performance against New Mexico. He averaged 45.5 yards on four punts and killed all inside the 15-yard line. Three punts were killed inside the 10-yard line. He had a 61-yard punt that was downed at the 5.

Injury notes

  • Fisher indicated injured center Luke Matthews, receiver Ainias Smith and safeties Keldrick Carper and Erick Young are “day-to-day.”
Discussion from...

Correcting offensive line issues crucial for A&M's running game

8,403 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 29 days ago by The Agly Duckling
LatinAggie1997
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AgOutsideAustin
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AG
Gotta have Smith back
The Agly Duckling
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Fix that O Line and we'll be far better than good.
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