Story Poster
Jimbo Fisher
Fadil Diggs
Layden Robinson
Texas A&M Football

A&M offensive line hoping to erase any doubts regarding physicality

October 9, 2023
8,666

There is no greater insult to a football player than being labeled “soft.”

Any insinuation of softness — no matter how benign — will typically provoke a hard stare and harsh response.

Texas A&M guard Layden Robinson gave both when asked at a Monday press conference how he’s responded to those who might question the physicality of the Aggies’ offensive line.

“Honestly, just look at the tape,” Robinson said. “If you really go back and focus and look at the tape you’d see the transition we’ve had from last year to this year.

“I believe we are a physical offensive line. Just because that one play didn’t shape up doesn’t define us as an offensive line. I just challenge anybody if you really want to question how physical we are up front just go back and look at the tape.

“We are a physical offensive line. We take pride in that. Our coach takes pride in that. And I take pride in that. We are a physical offensive line. We don’t allow anybody not to be physical because that’s just not our way. Just because one play happened that doesn’t define us at all.”

“If you look at our guys we have a big football team. We’re built for physicality. We’re built for endurance. You better be physical in this league. Tennessee is very physical and plays hard, too.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

Exactly which play Robinson was referring to from A&M’s disappointing 26-20 loss to Alabama was uncertain.

Unfortunately, there were several plays in which the offensive line struggled with Alabama’s strong defensive front.

That’s an issue the Aggies must clean up when they travel to face Tennessee on Saturday.

Tennessee allows an average of just 115.4 rushing yards.

However, short yardage plays have been particularly frustrating this year. In four games against Power 5 opponents, the Aggies unofficially have converted 8-of-15 opportunities on third-and-1 or third-and-2.

In the loss to Alabama, the Aggies twice failed to convert third down on short yardage situations.

Early in the game, the Aggies failed to gain a yard on third-and-1 at the Alabama 19-yard line. A fourth down attempt failed with an incomplete pass.

Later in the third quarter A&M running back Le’Veon Moss could only manage a 1-yard gain on third-and-2 from the Alabama 46-yard line.

Coach Jimbo Fisher opted to punt on fourth down rather than try to get the yard necessary for a first down.

The earlier failure to convert might have influenced his decision, though he said it was because of the game situation. The score was tied at 17 and he didn’t want to risk Alabama taking possession of the football at midfield.

“The score was 17-17 and they had just scored a touchdown,” Fisher said. “We’re still in the third quarter. We didn’t gain a full yard (on third down). It was a little bit harder than a yard. We’re at the 45.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
The A&M offensive line allowed five sacks against Alabama after previously giving up just six all season.

“I wanted to pin them back because our defense had been playing well. We just missed a third-and-1 and a fourth-and-1 already. Why not pin them back and get the defense get it back in good field position?”

That rationale was sound, but Alabama was able to take its ensuing possession and drive 80 yards for a  touchdown.

Later in the fourth quarter, A&M had a first-and-goal at the Alabama 2-yard line. A holding penalty on second down derailed the threat. The Aggies ended up settling for a short field goal.

Those missed opportunities were crucial. However, Fisher said the physicality of the offensive line was not an issue.

He said A&M’s first failure on third-and-1 in the first quarter was the result of a blown assignment. He said coming up short on third-and-2 in the third quarter was a matter of a missed block by a tight end, not an offensive lineman.

“If you look at our guys we have a big football team,” Fisher said. “We’re built for physicality. We’re built for endurance. You better be physical in this league. Tennessee is very physical and plays hard, too.”

Super Cooper

Edgerrin Cooper is emerging as one of the most productive defensive players in the country.

In the last three games, the junior linebacker has registered six sacks and 25 tackles with eight resulting in lost yardage.

Cooper, in his second year as a starter, is tied for sixth in the nation with six sacks and tied for second in the country in tackles-for-loss.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Leading his team with 11 tackles, Edgerrin Cooper also totaled three of A&M’s six sacks on Alabama.

“He’s trusting himself and his eyes more. That comes with maturity,” Fisher said. "Sometimes you think players have doubt. They don’t have doubt. They don’t want to make a mistake.

“They want to be perfect. They want to do things right, so it makes you be hesitant. Right now, he’s got enough maturity, he knows his assignments and he’s trusting his eyes and he’s pulling the pin and tackling well.”

Officially Frustrated

Fisher could not hide his frustration over a failed play involving an official in the game against Alabama.

The Aggies faced third-and-6 at the Alabama 45-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

Receiver Evan Stewart broke open on a slant, but the umpire was in the way about eight-and-a-half yards down field. Distracted, Stewart was unable to make the catch.

The umpire typically moves closer to the line of scrimmage after the snap.

“They’re supposed to step up to six or seven yards (from the line of scrimmage) so we don’t run routes off those guys. He’s a little bit deeper. He’s almost 9-and-a-half, 10 yards deep. They’re not there very often. He happened to be there. It is what it is.

“We had a great play called when he and the official met. It gave them a 12th defender. It doesn’t happen very often. Unfortunately, it happened at a critical time. But we still had opportunities. We’ve got to overcome it.”

Defending DeBerry

Cornerback Josh DeBerry had a tough day trying to cover Alabama receiver Jermaine Burton, who set career highs with nine catches for 197 yards. He caught two touchdown passes.

DeBerry did give up deep strikes to Burton, but he wasn’t beaten on either of the touchdown catches. There were other A&M defensive backs that struggled to cover Burton.

“Josh did some good things,” Fisher said. “They made contested catches. We bit on a double move one time. But he’s played good ball. He’s tackled well. He’s still doing a good job in a lot of things, though.”


Briefly:

  • The Aggies have scored on 25-of-28 trips into the red zone. However, they’ve only managed 16 touchdowns. That’s 57 percent. Fisher said a 75 percent touchdown rate would be acceptable. 
  • Cornerback Tony Grimes, a heralded transfer from North Carolina, continues to be slowed by a nagging “lower body injury.” Fisher said Grimes hasn’t been able to consistently practice.
  • Tackle Reuben Fatheree also continues to try to rebound from a knee injury. Fisher gave no indication of when to expect Fatheree to be back in action.
Discussion from...

A&M offensive line hoping to erase any doubts regarding physicality

6,314 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by TAMU74
Reno Hightower
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Hopefully they can prove just that.
Aggie1188
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Just do not do a QB sneak on 3rd & 1 or 4th & 1. Research shows we'd have a 80% chance of getting a first down. That's way too easy. DO NOT DO IT. "I would rather lose than do that."-probably Jimbo
fla_agfan
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It's not their physically... it's their coaching.

Same goes for the DB's
JimAggie
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AG
The play of this line truly is "offensive."
jimaggie
fieldtrailer
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AG
A lot goes back to horrible 2020 class. Bankhead, chibizo (sp), Jefferson and others that are not even here or are not contributing. Can't afford to have that many misses in one class. Crates a void. Of course now you can use portal but that's not even working out for Fisher. Add injuries that are requiring major surgery. A total mess.
Loco84
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AG
Layden Robinson and Foster haven't lived up to expectations this year when you consider that they were supposed to be the experienced anchors of the line leading by example. They just aren't getting it done.
TMF
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AG
I won't hold my breath. Is there a difference between soft and just plain bad?
Jbob04
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AG
Yikes
TAMU74
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AG
Another horrible performance today. That's two weeks in a row against ranked teams.
Why is Foster still at center?
He might've been the best player for Tennessee today without wearing orange and white
We have no run game thanks to this OL.
Does the coaching staff not see this?
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