Story Poster
Jimbo Fisher
Max Johnson
Shemar Turner
Trey Zuhn
Texas A&M Football

Texas A&M eyes more second-half success for successful second half

October 30, 2023
5,577

A successful second half to Texas A&M’s football season may require more success in the second half.

The Aggies have not scored an offensive touchdown in the second half of their last four games.

The offense managed a single field goal in the second half against Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee. A&M got three field goals in last week’s 30-17 victory over South Carolina.

Even though the Aggies didn’t reach the end zone in the last 30 minutes against South Carolina, coach Jimbo Fisher was adamant the offense played well.

“We went down and scored three straight drives,” Fisher said. “And we scored a touchdown which was a touchdown. I’m not going to sit here and say we didn’t.”

Fisher was referring to a play near the end of the third quarter in which tight end Max Wright was ruled out of bounds on a 9-yard catch.

Though replays indicated Wright got a foot down in bounds, replay officials let the erroneous call stand.

“The explanation I got — the only problem I have with it — was they said we couldn’t tell if the ball moved,” Fisher said. “Well if you couldn’t tell if the ball moved it didn’t move. So if his foot’s down and the ball didn’t move, isn’t that a touchdown?”

Quarterback Max Johnson was also surprised the original call wasn’t over turned.

“The third drive we kicked a field goal we got a penalty. We only had two penalties in the game. We got a holding call that set us back. We did a good job recovering and getting in field goal range. Then the game’s over. Once it got inside five minutes we wanted to eat clock. I thought we played well the second half offensively.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

“At first I was like, ‘OK, he was out of bounds when I threw it,” Johnson said. “After watching the replay I was like, ‘There’s no way they don’t overturn this.’ I definitely thought it was a touchdown.”

The Aggies almost had a touchdown on the following play, but receiver Noah Thomas had the football jarred loose at the last second. That led to a 26-yard field goal.

The Aggies settled for a 24-yard field goal on their next series. Though he would have rather had a touchdown, Fisher opted against going for fourth-and-1 at the 6-yard line because the field goal provided a 27-17 lead.

The Aggies added another field goal later in the fourth quarter.

“Instead of taking that chance and leaving them in the game you went up two scores,” Fisher said. “We controlled the ball with the running game. Had a 14-play drive and a 9-play drive.

“The third drive we kicked a field goal we got a penalty. We only had two penalties in the game. We got a holding call that set us back. We did a good job recovering and getting in field goal range. Then the game’s over.

“Once it got inside five minutes we wanted to eat clock. I thought we played well the second half offensively.”

The Aggies accumulated 187 yards of total offense in the second half.

They’ll likely need second-half touchdowns to win upcoming games against high-scoring Ole Miss on Saturday and against LSU on Nov. 25.

But Fisher remained encouraged by the Aggies’ second-half showing last week.

“I like what we did and how we did it,” he said. “Keep getting better.”

Road Worries

A&M is hoping to put an end to an eight-game losing skid on the road.

The Aggies haven’t won a true road game — a game played on the opponent’s home field — since defeating Missouri 35-14 in Columbia on Oct. 16, 2021.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M has claimed three of the last five matchups with Ole Miss. The last three meetings have been decided by 10-or-fewer points.

Since then, they’ve lost at Ole Miss and LSU in 2021, at Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina and Auburn in 2022 and Miami and Tennessee this season.

Theories abound why the Aggies struggle on the road. There has been speculation that traveling on Thursday rather than Friday, when most teams travel, is counterproductive.

However, Fisher said there is no plans to alter their road agenda.

“The reason we do it is because of academics,” Fisher said. “It’s the best academic day we get. Our academic (staff) gets those guys for three hours in the morning.

“It’s not just about the travel. It’s about getting them off the streets on Thursday night, getting extra rest and then you get academics on Friday. That way you don’t miss class and study hall and all the things that go with it. It helps the kids academically.”

That hasn’t helped with on-field performance, though. Fisher acknowledged the Aggies must better handle the issues that come with playing on the road.

“When you go on the road you have to silent the crowd, the momentum swings,” he said. “You’ve got to play better football. You’ve got to be sound with what you do. You’ve got to understand the mentality you’ve got to take on the road. You’ve got to block out the noise. Block out the clutter and go play.

“You’ve got to execute in critical moments. That’s what it comes down to.”

A&M sophomore tackle Trey Zuhn said the Aggies could be better on the road just by concentrating more.

“I think it’s just focusing on our communication and our fundamentals,” he said. “It’s important in every single game at home or away. We don’t let [fundamentals] slip but sometimes they’re not as great as they could be at away games.”

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Facing No. 11 Ole Miss in Oxford, A&M hasn’t beat a ranked team on the road since topping then-No. 24 Auburn in 2016.

Perhaps the Aggies are getting a break with an 11 a.m. game on Saturday. Morning games can be advantageous for visiting teams because they don’t spend all day at the team hotel.

Also, the home fans without a full day of liquid preparation aren’t always as boisterous for morning kickoffs.

“It might help a little bit to have an early game,” Zuhn said. “Some of the fans might not be there at away games. It might help a little bit with the noise level.”

Stick With Nik to Kick

Although Nik Constantinou has been in a three-game slump, he will maintain punting duties.

“He’s a very good punter,” Fisher said. “He’s done it for a long time. We’ll work on his technique and getting his timing and rhythm.

“We’ve just got to get him back in a groove.”

In the last three games, Constantinou averaged 37.7 yards on four punts vs. Alabama, 32 yards on four punts vs. Tennessee and 33.7 yards on four punts vs. South Carolina.


Briefly

 
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