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Texas A&M Football

Learned, Loved, Loathed: Mississippi State 26, Texas A&M 22

October 3, 2021
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There wasn’t much to love in Texas A&M’s loathsome 26-22 Southeastern Conference football loss to Mississippi State on Saturday night.

There was some to be learned, though it’s doubtful that Aggies will like the lessons.

What I learned

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
The Texas A&M defense had its worst showing of the season, giving up 438 yards of total offense on Saturday. 

Kenyon Green should stay at left guard. His offseason move to tackle seemed like a good idea at the time. In retrospect, it actually weakened A&M’s line at two positions. Green was an All-American at guard but has been inconsistent at tackle. Green’s move back to guard appeared to give the Aggies’ running game a jolt. They only rushed for 162 yards, but that was compromised by 29 yards in losses on sacks and a 16-yard loss on a bad snap.

Defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s strategy was flawed. The Aggies typically dropped eight into coverage in an attempt to force Mississippi State to throw short. That worked a year ago. This time, the Aggies routinely played too far off Mississippi State receivers. They forced the Bulldogs to throw short but could not converge quick enough to limit gains. Quarterback Will Rogers was content to take five- and six-yard gains and consistently moved the Bulldogs downfield. He completed 46 passes for 408 yards.

The Aggies are in danger of finishing last in the SEC West. A month ago, that wouldn’t even have been suggested. However, the Aggies are 0-2 in conference play, with Alabama coming up next. Mississippi State was generally regarded as the weakest link in the West. At this point, no victory over an SEC opponent can be assumed.

What I loved

The running game showed signs of life. Isaiah Spiller continued to show he’s the Aggies’ best player. He ran with determination en route to 100 yards on 16 carries. He had a 44-yard run to set up an early touchdown. Devon Achane rushed for 69 yards on eight attempts. He had a 41-yard run to set up a late field goal.

Seth Small was reliable. Obviously, A&M would rather have touchdowns, but when the Aggies settled for field goal attempts, Small came through. He converted all three of his tries from 37, 40 and 44 yards. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a fourth attempt. 

Jalen Preston is developing into a solid contributor. The junior receiver hasn’t been a major factor most of his career, but he’s making plays now. Preston only had two catches, but they were productive. He had a 38-yard catch to highlight a drive for a field goal. Later, he picked up a first down with an 11-yard catch on a drive for a Zach Calzada touchdown run. Of his 49 receiving yards, 21 came after the catch. He was also effective in blocking downfield.

What I loathed

A&M has allowed 12 sacks. Tennessee is the only SEC team to give up more.

Unforced mistakes have been a common occurrence this season. The list of A&M’s pratfalls included: An interception on a well-thrown pass that ricocheted off receiver Demond Demas. A face-mask penalty on cornerback Jaylon Jones that negated a Mississippi State incomplete pass on third-and-goal at the two-yard line. Jones falling down in coverage to give up a 20-yard touchdown pass. A bad snap for a 16-yard loss that killed a scoring opportunity. A pass interference penalty on third-and-16. Zach Calzada retreated into the end zone to take a sack that resulted in a safety. He also overthrew Ainias Smith in the end zone on a pass that could have given A&M the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Poor pass protection. As mentioned, Calzada does tend to hold the ball too long, but he wasn’t always to blame. He was sacked three times for 29 yards in losses. A&M has allowed 12 sacks. Tennessee is the only SEC team to give up more. The three-man rush that A&M’s defense served only gave Rogers ample time to pick apart the Aggies’ coverage. The Aggies frequently threatened to blitz but routinely dropped out of it. Rogers was buying the threat, anyway. On the rare occasions when A&M brought another rusher, the Aggies had reasonable success.

Discussion from...

Learned, Loved, Loathed: Mississippi State 26, Texas A&M 22

16,572 Views | 16 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by 90ags
MaroonStain
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I agree on all with a BIG note on mistakes.

We make waaayyyyy too many mistakes.
Camrossmartin
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Feels like the key difference between last year's team and this year's (mentally speaking) is last year had the attitude of kicking the door into the party and not apologizing for it. This year it feels like that guy showing up and respectfully asking the bouncer to let him through, but the bouncer just ignores him. Then the guy asks super nice again before realizing he's not getting in. So he decides to go to a Waffle House instead because no one will expect him to be there, and it'll be the perfect place to hide his face for a while. That way, he doesn't have to show back up at the apartment and explain to his roommates that he actually couldn't get into the exclusive club.
greg.w.h
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Mississippi State took what we gave them defensively. We did not take what they gave us on offense but Zach only threw 20 attempts. And completed 60% of those. He's still learning and showed breakout thinking including the touchdown. The QB getting sacked doesn't help with happy feet either and shortensvtime for recognition.

Elko thinking he had the personnel to back off if receivers to contain long gains almost worked. We just lacked the offense to control the ball like last year. I think that's due to new online and new QB.

Kenyon staying at guard is a failure to develop and to build depth. His failure at tackle would not have been as stark if the depth could fill in with ready next up.

I'm not fussing about this. Just that it feeds unrealistic expectations. The analysis needs to be humble to be helpful in providing a meaningful narrative of what we are all seeing. At the least provide a balancing explanation that is a better take if you're going to speculate with negative themes.
MookieBlaylock
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An interception on a well-thrown pass that ricocheted off receiver Demond Demas

I guess you consider it well thrown bc it was behind the receiver and not 15 yards over his head

TheWoodsAg
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"Well thrown" is quite a stretch.
MaroonStain
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It was a catchable pass FFS.
Mule
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PTSD from the Pirate's day of pilfering RC Slocum's and Fran's teams.

Elko clearly did not watch film from those days. He did exactly the same thing that Slocum and Fran tried to do. Although he has the athletes to put pressure on the QB, he chose to not scheme along those lines. He let that QB get comfortable as a cucumber. And once said cucumber started picking apart his vaunted D, he had no answer because he did not have disguised blitz packages. He was more predictable than Jimbo last night.

His D played soft and did not check receivers at the LOS. Where is the physicality from this D? Where is the intimidation factor? Where are the turnovers?
Texas Aggies
12thMan9
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Camrossmartin said:

Feels like the key difference between last year's team and this year's (mentally speaking) is last year had the attitude of kicking the door into the party and not apologizing for it. This year it feels like that guy showing up and respectfully asking the bouncer to let him through, but the bouncer just ignores him. Then the guy asks super nice again before realizing he's not getting in. So he decides to go to a Waffle House instead because no one will expect him to be there, and it'll be the perfect place to hide his face for a while. That way, he doesn't have to show back up at the apartment and explain to his roommates that he actually couldn't get into the exclusive club.
Not true. No Waffle House in BCS.
Ronnie '88
DGAG92
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MaroonStain said:

I agree on all with a BIG note on mistakes.

We make waaayyyyy too many mistakes.


And they're elementary mistakes at critical moments in the game. Do we have one punt return without a block in the back or a hold?
Class of 1992
cheroczech
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Olin needs to watch that interception again. It was not a well thrown ball. Unfortunate bounce, but still that ball was thrown behind the receiver.
HighwaySix
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We might as well have walk-ons for the Special Teams. They would probably produce less penalties and wouldn't require scholarships or be distracted by NIL crap.
DGAG92
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cheroczech said:

Olin needs to watch that interception again. It was not a well thrown ball. Unfortunate bounce, but still that ball was thrown behind the receiver.


Oh for the love of Pete, the throw was fine. Have you ever thrown a football? Ever thrown one on the run? Ever thrown one in an SEC game to FIVE STAR receiver where you hit him dead in the hands? Shut up with that bull***** Demas is a FIVE STAR receiver, I assure you he's NOT blaming Calzada for throwing it too hard and off target by your one foot. Catch the ****ing ball period.
Class of 1992
HighwaySix
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DGAG92 said:

cheroczech said:

Olin needs to watch that interception again. It was not a well thrown ball. Unfortunate bounce, but still that ball was thrown behind the receiver.


Oh for the love of Pete, the throw was fine. Have you ever thrown a football? Ever thrown one on the run? Ever thrown one in an SEC game to FIVE STAR receiver where you hit him dead in the hands? Shut up with that bull***** Demas is a FIVE STAR receiver, I assure you he's NOT blaming Calzada for throwing it too hard and off target by your one foot. Catch the ****ing ball period.
Playmakers MUST catch a ball anywhere in the area to be considered playmakers.
cheroczech
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So you agree with Olin? It was a well thrown ball?
AGNinBCS
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It was a good throw. Demas tried catching it into his chest instead of reaching out with his hands.
90ags
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While it was not a perfect throw leading Demas, it was more than catchable if Demas used his hands and not his body (granted, maybe the speed of the throw had the pass on him too quickly to react). There's a catching radius of WRs that the NFL covets and this one would be considered 'catchable' (Demas has to make these catches today and in the future if he wants to go to the next level).
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