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Texas A&M Football

Momentum Shifts: Key drive offers hope A&M offense can find its way

September 21, 2021
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It was a beautiful afternoon to be back in College Station at Kyle Field for the Aggie Football team’s early morning game against the New Mexico Lobos. There is nothing better for a team (and sometimes fans) than getting back to the comfort and familiarity of your home stadium, especially after a tough game in a hostile environment on the road.

The combination of an 11 a.m. kickoff and a non-marquee, non-conference opponent had me concerned about the turnout of the 12th Man for the game, but I was wrong. Once again the 12th Man showed up and showed out (especially the student section) to watch the Aggie defense absolutely erase New Mexico’s offense. They also got to see their new starting quarterback perform significantly better than he did when thrust into action in Colorado after the injury to Haynes King. The announcers kept pouring out praise on the fans’ energy, especially for the morning start time. Kudos to the 12th Man for always being the best.

The Texas A&M offense was coming off of one of the more underwhelming performances they have had in a very long time, at least in the Jimbo Fisher era of Aggie Football. I think the overall play of the big boys up front and our inability to consistently establish the run has been a little concerning, to say the least, especially with this game being the last tune-up before SEC play.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Calzada found himself under pressure too often against the Lobos.

On Saturday, we saw Calzada getting hit a little too frequently and being pressured way more often than you would hope to see. We also saw too many runs being stopped for no gain or even behind the line of scrimmage. So: not necessarily the confidence-building performance you would hope to see before the competition level increases significantly in conference play a week later. Despite the fast start and a 34-0 victory, the execution and success (or lack thereof) of our offensive line seemed to be the one area that could potentially hurt this team's chance to play in the SEC Championship or College Football Playoff.

But with 6:20 remaining in the third, the offense turned in a drive that restored some hope in the hearts of those paying close attention that despite some injuries and a lack of experience, this offensive line can still execute at a high level and get it done. Faithful Texas A&M fans have gotten used to seeing us impose our will at the line of scrimmage and run the ball effectively, forcing the defense to focus on the run and creating opportunities to hit our All-American tight end or a wide receiver over the top for a touchdown. And that’s exactly what happened on this drive.

The Aggies went back to the basics and ran the ball six times in a row during an 8-play, 90-yard scoring drive that took just over four minutes off of the clock. Texas A&M lined up in 12 personnel (1 back, 2 tight ends) for the next four plays and went to work. Isaiah Spiller got four carries in a row and broke a run that went for over 40 yards. The offense gave him a little bit of room and he did what he always does, making a defender miss in space and breaking off a long run. Devon Achane came in and got back-to-back carries. Zach Calzada hit tight end Jalen Wydermyer for a six-yard gain to move the sticks. Then on the next play, he threw a perfect ball to Moose Muhammad in the corner of the end zone for an amazing touchdown grab.

That drive alone instilled some peace in me as I watched the game and thought about the rough road that this team will face heading into the SEC gauntlet. Jimbo Fisher and Josh Henson are having to put together an offensive line group that lost four of five starters to the NFL and has had multiple guys banged up throughout camp and the season. But if there were any two coaches who I would want to have working on this, it would be those two guys. There is plenty of talent sitting in that OL meeting room in the Bright Complex; it’s experience that is still lacking.

I’ve always thought that any time an offensive line is struggling in their performance or lacking confidence, it’s just best to get back to the basics and run the football. Let them put their hands in the dirt and just go get after it. That’s what it seemed like the Aggies did on that drive in the third quarter. It reminded me a little bit of the Florida game last year when A&M was down, then o-line and Spiller just punished the Gators on a drive that gave the Aggies the lead.

This offense has to get tough and nasty up front as soon as possible. Jimbo Fisher said it himself in the post-game press conference. They have to execute better, do the fundamental little things more consistently and enjoy playing like a tough and nasty bunch. The sky is the limit for this football team if they can do so, but they must do it soon. We will find out everything we want to know about this A&M squad when the clock hits 00:00 late Saturday afternoon against the Hogs.

BTHOarkansas!

 
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