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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Football

Key Matchups: Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Ole Miss

October 28, 2022

A&M QB Conner Weigman vs. OM S AJ Finley

The calls for Weigman to start are finally answered. The heralded five-star prospect made his collegiate debut in last week’s loss to South Carolina with so-so results. He completed 8-of-15 passes for 91 yards in the fourth quarter, which really isn’t bad considering the state of A&M’s passing game most of the season. There’s no doubt about his talent, but first-time starting quarterbacks can be subject to turnovers and mistakes. Finley, the Rebels’ top defensive back, leads Ole Miss with two interceptions, has broken up a couple of passes and has notched 56 tackles. From his free safety position, Finley will be instrumental in keeping Weigman under wraps and perhaps confusing him. Ole Miss' pass defense has been mediocre, but can a freshman making his first start exploit it?

A&M offensive tackles vs. OM defensive ends

The Aggies must protect their freshman passer. That’s a tough task for an offensive line that has allowed 15 sacks. The job figures to be even more difficult against Ole Miss, which is tied with Alabama for the SEC lead with 23 sacks. Ends Tavius Robinson, Jared Ivey and Cedric Johnson lead that charge. Robinson and Ivey both have posted 3.5 sacks. Johnson has three. Johnson did not play against Auburn two games ago, but last week had two sacks against LSU. A&M tackles Trey Zuhn, and Reuben Fatheree will take on much of the responsibility to slow down the Rebels' rush. The Aggies did not allow a sack in a loss to South Carolina last week but gave up 10 in their three previous SEC games.

A&M RB Devon Achane vs. OM LB Troy Brown

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Do-it-all running back Devon Achane’s role is even more vital this weekend with a true freshman under center.

The Aggies' offense has been extremely dependent on Achane. It may be even more dependent on the fleet junior with a freshman quarterback taking snaps. Achane is third in the SEC with 627 rushing yards. He has rushed for 431 in SEC play. Most of his yards seem to come on runs between the tackles. Therefore, Ole Miss will rely heavily on Brown to keep Achane from breaking long runs. A transfer from Central Michigan, Brown leads the Rebels with 60 tackles. Ole Miss has shown to be vulnerable to the run. Last week, LSU rushed for 252 yards. The previous week, Auburn gained 301 on the ground. Brown will play a key role in the quest to prevent A&M from having similar rushing success.

A&M DE Fadil Diggs vs. OM OT Micah Pettus

Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart did not manage a touchdown pass in the loss to LSU. Part of the reason was the consistent pressure he was under. He was sacked three times and hurried on seven other occasions. A&M’s pass rush hasn’t been overly productive. However, Diggs has come on strong of late. He has posted three sacks and forced three fumbles in the last two games. He is counted on to manufacture a pass rush. He’ll be working against Pettus, a 6-foot-7, 360-pound redshirt freshman.

A&M LB Andre White vs. OM RB Quinshon Judkins

It’s well known that A&M’s run defense is vulnerable. The Aggies are ranked 12th in the SEC against the run. But much of their problems have been without White, the Aggies’ best inside linebacker. He was injured in the season-opening win over Sam Houston. He returned last week, and South Carolina was limited to 118 rushing yards. White’s presence made a difference, but the Aggies need LB Chris Russell to play well and hope LB Edgerrin Cooper can return from injury. The Aggies need to be as close to full strength as possible to contain Ole Miss’ running game, which is ranked third in the nation. Judkins leads the SEC with 826 rushing yards. He has exceeded 100 rushing yards in four of the last five games. Of course, he’s not the Rebels’ only rushing threat. TCU transfer Zach Evans has rushed for 605 yards and seven touchdowns. He missed the LSU game with an injury. His status is uncertain. Quarterback Jaxson Dart is also a running threat. He has rushed for 378 yards.

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