Story Poster
Jimbo Fisher
Bryce Anderson
Ainias Smith
Edgerrin Cooper
Texas A&M Football

Short yardage success sets tone for A&M's 30-17 Bonham Trophy win

October 28, 2023
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On fourth-and-1 at his own 29-yard line, Texas A&M’s Max Johnson barreled forward behind center Bryce Foster for a four-yard gain.

A successful quarterback sneak? Yes, the Aggies went back to the oldest play in football to make progress. It’s Texas A&M’s version of “​Back to the Future.”

A&M (5-3, 3-2) did not score on that drive, but that play set a tone in their 30-17 Southeastern Conference football victory over South Carolina (2-6, 2-4) on Saturday at Kyle Field.

It showed coach Jimbo Fisher’s plan to be aggressive.

It also showed the Aggies’ ability to pick up a clutch yard.

Converting short-yardage situations has been a source of frustration.

They’ve tripped over feet. They’ve missed blocks. They’ve missed assignments. Too often, the Aggies have been snake-bitten.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Two weeks ago, Texas A&M was 5-for-15 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth.

Failures to pick up a clutch yard or two loomed large in losses to Alabama and Tennessee.

That problem was solved — at least this week. The Aggies converted all four times they went for it on fourth down. Three times they did so via quarterback sneak.

“Those are things I thought we could do, and we were able to do them,” Fisher said. “They carried us, and we won some field position with it. Max (Johnson) scored on two of them (drives). Two of them we didn’t score, but we got good field position on them.”

The question could be asked why didn’t the Aggies use sneaks earlier this season. It does no good to look back — unless, of course, it’s to bring back an effective old-fashioned play.

The Aggies are looking forward with hopes that beating South Carolina can ignite a winning streak to salvage their precarious season.

Again, the defense played at championship level. It did give up a couple of touchdown drives, but the Gamecocks managed only 209 yards. South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler only passed for 176. He was sacked four times. Three came on intentional grounding penalties.

Offense has been A&M’s Achilles Heel. Picking up short yardage was a giant step in an Achilles Heal.

Johnson sneaked for a first down on fourth-and-1 to extend a drive for A&M’s second touchdown. It was scored by Amari Daniels on a third-and-one run.

The Aggies also got touchdowns on a Rueben Owens 14-yard burst and a 42-yard pass to Ainias Smith, who juked his way through the South Carolina secondary.

All three of those touchdowns came in the second quarter and staked the Aggies to a 21-7 lead.

“Today, we saw some things that were really good. We rebounded. We moved the ball in the running game a little bit better.”
- Texas A&M HC Jimbo Fisher

“Today, we saw some things that were really good,” Fisher said. “We rebounded. We moved the ball in the running game a little bit better.”

That might have been because South Carolina’s defense is among the weakest in the SEC. The Aggies cannot be concerned with that, though. They made plays needed to end a losing streak. That’s all that matters.

“Just to feel how to win again, making that one or two plays… The inches you’re talking about all the time and being able to do it. It was good to do it here,” Fisher said.

Smith agreed.


“I feel like it was huge,” he said. “We’ve got four more games left. We have to continue to grow. Not only for right now but for the future. We can still make the season real, real special.”

Well, that might require solving another offensive problem. The Aggies' offense failed to score a second-half touchdown for the fourth consecutive game.

They settled for three Randy Bond field goals. One was from 52 yards out, but the others capped drives that stalled inside the South Carolina 10-yard line.

A&M likely will need to end drives with touchdowns to post wins over upcoming opponents Ole Miss and LSU.

“Putting up three points instead of six does hurt sometimes… A lot of times… All the time,” Smith said. “But at the same time, we’ve just got to keep moving forward.”

Some would argue A&M did score a second-half touchdown. They would have a strong argument, too.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
After review, SEC officials determined Max Wright’s catch was out of bounds.

Late in the third quarter, Johnson passed to tight end Max Wright in the corner of the north end zone. Though Wright made the catch, officials ruled him out of bounds.

Replays on the Jumbotron appeared to show Wright got a toe on the turf. Actually, it just confirmed the toe was on the turf.

The officials still didn’t agree.

“I think (Johnson) made a really smart throw and a good throw,” Fisher said. “I thought he had a touchdown.”

So did everyone else on the A&M sideline.

“It was a little iffy,” star linebacker Edgerrin Cooper said. “When they showed it on the screen, I said, ‘Yeah, that’s 100 percent a touchdown.’”

Smith said even more.

“When I was going out on the field, I said, ‘That’s a tud (touchdown),’” Smith said. “Then, they stopped the game to review it. I looked up again, and I said, ‘That’s a tud.’ Then we had to go back out there, and I said, ‘That’s a tud.’

“I feel like they snaked him in a way.”

Maybe so. But the snake wasn’t nearly the factor as the sneaks in a much-needed Aggies victory.

Discussion from...

Short yardage success sets tone for A&M's 30-17 Bonham Trophy win

4,605 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 7 mo ago by Aggie1188
Ag in ATL
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AG
Achilles Heal... love it!
dannyv
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AG
You really are a great writer, OB.
bulverdeaggie93
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AG
our coaches are always about 2-3 weeks to late figuring things out… took 2-3 weeks to figure out 3 man fronts were terrible (the casual fan saw it from day 1)… 2-3 weeks for them to figure out QB sneaks we're good (casual knew it during Tenn game)… 2-3 weeks for them how to learn to use TO's at the end of the half (casual fan knew it)… the list goes on and on.
TowerAg90
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AG
Gotta love our OB
TMF
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bulverdeaggie93 said:

our coaches are always about 2-3 weeks to late figuring things out… took 2-3 weeks to figure out 3 man fronts were terrible (the casual fan saw it from day 1)… 2-3 weeks for them to figure out QB sneaks we're good (casual knew it during Tenn game)… 2-3 weeks for them how to learn to use TO's at the end of the half (casual fan knew it)… the list goes on and on.


Sad we pay top dollar for that when we all could get in free to watch the same product.
Shoefly!
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AG
And yet, there hasn't been an explanation why that was not a touchdown. The SEC is weak sauce!
Aggiebyblood
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That picture is indicative of our offense. Inch by toe by inch down the field every game and missing out most of the time. Love the players even the ones that get called out (they are put in position to fail) all the time.

I missed the second half again watching my grandson's flag football. Didn't even think about watching the replay.

It's going to be a long game on the 4th. The defense will keep us in the game (they need to score), If the offense keeps inching down the field on each drive, "made" field goals will not be enough.

Aggie1188
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It took Fisher losing 2-3 games in Year 6 to break out a QB sneak, against one of the worst teams in the league. The man is a genius.
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