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3 Things We Learned: Aggies vs. Bruins

In the season opener for both teams, Texas A&M and UCLA took each other to the brink before the Aggies won the "Battle of the 4th and Goals."

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

As always, it's difficult to narrow the list down to just three things, especially after a season opening game that featured so many intriguing storylines (A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone facing his former employer, Trevor Knight making his first start for A&M, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen being touted as the next John Elway, etc.). That said, here are three things (among many) that stood out to me as I yelled my heart out from section 326.

1. The Aggies have some running backs

Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford provided a solid one-two punch for the Aggies, combining for 159 yards on 29 carries. Williams showed game-breaking ability and Ford showed overall running ability and toughness.

While Tra Carson was a dependable running back for A&M last year, he was more of a power back than anything, and with James White battling injuries all year, it made things difficult for A&M. The Aggies played in 2015 without any sort of speed threat in the backfield. But Williams alleviates that concern, and with Ford showing a nice blend of speed and power, Aggies should have a very positive outlook on the position for the next few years.

2. The A&M front seven is much improved

The problem for the Aggies the past few years has been clear to everyone. Poor and/or inconsistent play from the defensive tackle position and downright awful play from the linebackers made it far too easy to run the ball. We are one game into 2016, and it seems apparent that both positions are much improved.

In fact, on UCLA's second offensive snap, it was already apparent. On that play, the A&M defensive line gave no ground against the UCLA offensive line, allowing linebacker Otaro Alaka to fill the gap and stop the run for no gain, exactly like it is supposed to work.

A&M's ability to pressure the quarterback was already known and was again on display Saturday. Their ability to remain strong up the middle will be what takes them from good to great, if they keep it up.

3. The Aggies have a punter (!)

Both punter and kicker were big question marks for 2016. The jury is still out on the kicker, but the performance by punter Shane Tripucka was incredibly encouraging. He wasn't just good Saturday, he was great.

He was called on to punt seven times, including three times in the fourth quarter when both time and field possession were precious commodities. He averaged a whopping 47.3 yards per kick, which is especially impressive considering that none of them were aided by roll, and two of them were pooch kicks that pinned the Bruins inside their five yard line.

He was consistent and he was good. A&M has had a nice history of good punters and is a fan base that actually appreciates a good punter (having the greatest punter in football history, Shane Lechler, helps with that). If Tripucka can keep this up, the Aggies can rest easy for a while and know that they can win the field position battle.