Another tough battle in Arlington, another Texas A&M win over Arkansas. The 2014 and 2015 games between the Aggies and the Arkansas Razorbacks were wins for A&M, but both of those felt like the Aggies were getting away with something. On Saturday night, the Aggies went out and took it, winning 45-24. Here are my biggest three takeaways.
A&M is tough
All the talk after this game was about the goal line stands by the A&M defense, and rightly so. Time after time after time, Arkansas lined up from the one or two yard line and was determined to run the ball right at the Aggie defense. It’s as if Arkansas was trying to make a statement and show the conference that their identity is still a team that can line up and run the ball right at you if need be.
But the statement made was by the A&M defense. The Aggies proved be stronger, tougher, more physical than the Razorbacks. It was stunning, and it seems to have completely changed the perception of the Aggies around the league. Just weeks ago, commentators and analysts were talking about how soft the Aggies are. Whether or not they had done their research is irrelevant at this point. Those same people are now saying that this A&M team is different. It certainly was on Saturday.
Trevor Knight the running threat
Everyone can agree that Knight, while a capable passer, isn’t going to magically turn into a top-rated passer this year. For his career, he has had ups and downs and overall, average numbers throwing the ball.
However, if he can be a legitimate running threat, that changes everything. And through four games, he hasn’t just been a legitimate threat, he has been one of the most dynamic running quarterbacks in the nation. Knight is 5th nationally in rushing yards by a quarterback and 3rd in yards per carry.
Knight is averaging over 8 yards per carry this year and already has runs of 32, 42, 48, and 62 yards. His running style is nothing like Johnny Manziel’s, but from a pure statistical standpoint, Knight has nearly been Manziel’s equal as a runner through four games. (Manziel averaged 7 yards per carry as a freshman and through four games and ran for 366 yards to Knight’s 308 with six touchdowns to Knight’s five.)
What’s really impressive about Knight is his straight line speed. His ability to take off and run has transformed this offense, and when you combine a quarterback with speed and a knack for making the right read with a running back who might be as fast as any in A&M history (freshman Trayveon Williams), the result is what happened Saturday: 310 yards on just 22 carries between Knight and Williams.
Josh Reynolds is still Josh Reynolds
Every week, Josh Reynolds seems to just go out and make big plays whenever they are needed. Against UCLA, he came down with the big touchdown catch to give A&M a fifteen point lead. Against Auburn, again he came down with one of the game’s biggest passes and also scored a touchdown as part of a solid seven catch, 98 yard performance.
And against Arkansas, he did it again, first making a reception on third down to finally help Trevor Knight get settled as a passer and then later catching the 92 yard touchdown pass that helped blow the game open.
Reynolds is currently third in the SEC in receiving yards and yards per catch has been among the conference leaders in yards and touchdowns for basically his entire career at A&M. Mike Evans was a tough act to follow as a stud wide receiver, but Reynolds has given the Aggies both consistency and big play ability at the Z position.
In 29 career games, he averages 4 catches a game for 71 yards with one touchdown every six catches. He’s not Mike Evans. But boy, he’s really, really good.