Story Poster
Elijah Robinson
Max Wright
Sam Mathews
Texas A&M Football

Dreadful season ends as No. 20 Cowboys defeat depleted Aggies, 31-23

December 28, 2023
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HOUSTON — The final polluted drops of the Jimbo Fisher era swirled down the drain on Wednesday night.

Yet, in a 31-23 Texas Bowl loss to No. 20 Oklahoma State at NRG Stadium that severed the remaining ties to the failed Fisher regime, there were signs of hope and indications that better fortunes may await Texas A&M.

To be clear, there are no moral victories at Texas A&M, but the Aggies were down to fourth-string quarterback Marcel Reed, a skeleton crew defense, a lame duck coaching staff, trailing 24-6 at halftime and still were perhaps one fumble away from a chance at upsetting the Big 12 Conference runner-up.

"Coming back into halftime, I told them they were going to remember this group,” said interim coach Elijah Robinson, who now moves on to Syracuse as defensive coordinator. “Remember the guys in that locker room. Remember the guys that stayed and fought it through.

“They didn’t have a blink in their eye when I told them we were going to come back out and we were going to keep playing hard every snap. And when we look up, we’re going to be in this game. They had a chance. They had an opportunity.”

That in itself was shocking, if not amazing.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M missed 31 players from its initial 2023 roster vs. Oklahoma State.

The Aggies’ potluck lineup, infested with backups, true freshmen and walk-ons, played with a passion not often seen in recent seasons.

They competed. They refused to quit. They showed new coach Mike Elko has something good on which to build.

They showed glimpses of what might be possible.

What could a more experienced group accomplish with competent coaching, an improved strength & conditioning program and an effective offensive scheme? Yes, scheme matters.

The deck was stacked against A&M. No. 20 Oklahoma State (10-4) actually had a measure of incentive to play. A 10-win season was at stake. It could be clinched against an opponent from the much-loathed Southeastern Conference.

In contrast, Texas A&M (7-6) was depleted by injuries, apathy, transfer portal defections and NFL departures. Only two regulars — freshman linebacker Taurean York and sophomore defensive back Bryce Anderson — were in the defensive starting lineup.

Since taking over for Fisher last month Robinson has preached about a brotherhood. But with so many sitting out, the Aggies had to rely on an “other” hood. Six defensive players made their first start, including 12th Man Sam Mathews, who was a game-time decision at safety.

“I’m proud of those guys that stuck it through,” Robinson said. “A lot of people talk about the guys that weren’t here this whole time as you prepared for the game. Nobody talked about the guys that were here.”

A difficult situation became worse on the first play of the game. Quarterback Jaylen Henderson, once the third-stringer, fell hard after completing a pass for an 11-yard gain. He immediately left with a badly injured right arm.

“I’m proud of those guys that stuck it through. A lot of people talk about the guys that weren’t here this whole time as you prepared for the game. Nobody talked about the guys that were here.”
- A&M interim HC Elijah Robinson

Enter fourth-string quarterback Marcel Reed, who did a spectacular job considering the circumstances. What circumstances? Receivers Ainias Smith and Noah Thomas are hurt. Receiver Evan Stewart and top tight end Jake Johnson have transferred or entered the portal. A struggling line continued to struggle. A&M’s running game spun its wheels.

Yet, somehow the Aggies remained reasonably competitive.

Reed completed 20 of 33 passes for 361 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score.

He completed deep passes to Moose Muhammad and Jaden Platt on drives to field goals. He also connected with tight end Max Wright for 40 yards. That set up an Amari Daniels 2-yard run, which cut A&M’s deficit to 24-13 early in the third quarter. He escaped the rush for a 20-yard touchdown run.

He also led the Aggies to the brink of another touchdown that would’ve brought A&M within 31-27 early in the fourth quarter. Reed threw a short pass to Daniels, who broke into the open field for a 34-yard gain.

But he fumbled when hit from behind, and Oklahoma State recovered at the 1-yard line.

“Amari was running the ball really hard and was trying to make a play,” Robinson said. “Unfortunately, he got stripped. They got the ball back at the 1-yard line. You can’t talk about things that happened in the past, but I think it would have been a different game with a lot of time left on the clock.”

The Aggies were able to pull within one possession, 31-23, when Randy Bond’s 51-yard field goal attempt bounced over the crossbar with just over five minutes remaining.

Alas, A&M’s defense was no match for the Cowboys. The Aggies defense did a decent job on running back Ollie Gordon II, the nation’s leading rusher. He managed 118 rushing yards on 27 attempts but wasn’t able to control the game.

Gordon was once so frustrated he drew a penalty after getting stone-walled by Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy and Mathews on third-and-1 at midfield.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
With Wednesday’s loss, Texas A&M is now 20-23 overall in bowl games.

However, Oklahoma State quarterback Alan Bowman toyed with the patchwork A&M secondary. Quick passes were routinely completed in front of A&M defensive backs. Then, he would strike over their heads big gains to set up touchdowns.

Bowman finished with 402 passing yards and two touchdowns, though he had passes intercepted by Mathews and Dalton Brooks.

Those interceptions, along with strong run defense by York, Brownlow-Dindy and D.J. Hicks, and excellent catches from Muhammad and Jahdae Walker were reminders there is still plenty of talent on hand at A&M.

Better coaching of that talent may lead to better days as early as Aug. 31 when A&M opens the 2024 season at Kyle Field against Notre Dame.

Long-suffering Aggies would like to hope so, anyway. Too many, though, are afraid to hope. They’ve been let down too often. They’ve endured too many empty promises.

Still, Robinson said to take a chance. Or better yet, give Elko one.

“He’s going to put the right people in place to make sure our guys are successful here,” Robinson said of Elko. “I look forward to watching it. I’m excited for Mike. I’m excited for this program. And I tell you guys like I tell the players: ‘Stick around. Give him a chance. He’s going to help them be successful.”

It is understandable that skeptics will remain. But if Elko can harness the passion the Aggies showed against Oklahoma State, then reaching that elusive success at least seems to be possible.

Discussion from...

Dreadful season ends as No. 20 Cowboys defeat depleted Aggies, 31-23

14,327 Views | 16 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by 4
Ri
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Brilliant OB.
Hot Corner
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AG
I thought Coley called a great game! The best called game in years in my opinion. Sam Matthew's played an outstanding game. Probably better than most of the safeties who played for us this year.
lagoag
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Thanks OB, we fought a good fight. The play calling by Coley was great and it did give us a chance to be in the game. And best wishes to Henderson for a speedy recovery.
AgFormerlyInIrving
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AG
Quote:

The final polluted drops of the Jimbo Fisher era swirled down the drain on Wednesday night.
I'm sorry Olin, but Jimbo is no longer going to take your questions after that.
Just Tired
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last season was even more dreadful but i doubt it got that tag on texags as long as jimbo was still here. and i doubt anything that happens next season... no matter how horrid... will be labeled as dreadful.
laruejd
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AG
"Since taking over for Fisher last month Robinson has preached about a brotherhood. But with so many sitting out, the Aggies had to rely on an "other" hood." I like that, we no longer have a brotherhood, but we have the "other" hood.
sf04
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They just needed to execute. The plays were there, we just needed to coach them up better
ScudAg56
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Another chapter in the 12th Man legend, except this time, he had to actually start the game. The new QB Reed was excellent, but I thought they should have run more zone reads with him. CBs covered well but the passes and receivers were just too good. I'm just mad about the players who passed on the game.
ScudAg56
el_guapo
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Other hood….niiiiice
fieldtrailer
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AG
"Only two regulars freshman linebacker Taurean York and sophomore defensive back Bryce Anderson were in the defensive starting lineup."

Shermar Stewart

The young qb was spectacular. Fix the freaking offensive line and the entire narrative will change. Doesn't seem like it should be that difficult with the portal and NIL.
aggiemom93
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I'm REALLY proud of our team and how they performed. They "gave 'em hell", even most were true freshmen and had VERY little experience. Coach Robinson did an excellent job and you can tell the guys loved him. The guys really adjusted to many different circumstances.

GOOD JOB BOYS and GIG 'EM
jhardimon
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Ouch, too soon!
akm91
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AG
Not sure you want to run zone read when down to your last scholarship QB who weighs in at listed 180 lbs.
"And liberals, being liberals, will double down on failure." - dedgod
AGDAD14
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Dreadful?… hmm, OB, did you listen to the two players?

One referenced a false narrative and the other the locker room… did you or the AD initiate this false narrative as a means to an end? Makes one wonder since the Aggie sports journalists always report this kind of stuff afterwards and not beforehand.
Maroon Flash
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AG
OB pulls no punches!
4
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AG
akm91 said:

Not sure you want to run zone read when down to your last scholarship QB who weighs in at listed 180 lbs.

If that kid is 180 lbs, my junk is 5 lbs.

It's not, by the way.

Almost though.
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