As an Aggie fan, there is not much more you could have asked for Saturday night as your team heads into the bye-week. Dominated both lines of scrimmage, had two back go over 100 for the second week in a row, made big plays, returned a punt for a TD, and just completely dominated. When Jimbo Fisher has to go to the performance of the backups to find room for improvement in his post-game interview… you know things went well.
Before we dive into the film, can we look at a few numbers?!?! The following numbers may be disturbing to other SEC fanbases, reader discretion is advised.
- Half Time Total yards: TAMU 268 - USC 11
- Stats through the third quarter: TAMU 443 - USC 6 (-26 rushing yards) First downs: TAMU 24 - USC 2 (penalty aided)
- Zeb Noland finished the night with a total QBR of 15.9 (I legitimately felt bad for this dude)
- Final state line:TAMU 44 USC 14
- First Downs 26 - 13
- Total Yards 477 - 185
- Rushing yds 290 - 71
- Turnovers 1 - 3
- Possession 35:30 - 24:30
Now let’s look at some key plays that led to this dominating Aggie Victory.
Start fast, ok coach! Ainias Smith finally broke one for 95 yards and this time it was not coming back for a penalty! Side note here, we all know how dynamic Ainias Smith is... but watch Edgerrin Cooper out in front blocking! This Special Teams Unit has almost hit a big return multiple times, it was only a matter of time before one broke!
Playing in front of the 12thMan can be hard enough, but this play on South Carolina’s second drive sure didn't help Noland settle in. Slow clap for this pass being completed, but I was sending thoughts and prayers to the Noland family after this hit! The Aggies used a four-man rush a lot Saturday night because that is all they needed as they overpowered the trenches. On this play, Clemons and Johnson meet at the quarterback and it appeared to have resulted in a temporary KO of Zeb Noland.
Both backs had great nights, but they didn't accomplish it alone. The offensive line had a great night, and as you can see, our skill players know how to get after it in the run game too! On this counterplay, the aggies pull Green and Wydermyer who do a good job sealing up the wall. I love Chapman and Smith blocking out in space though, this is a tough job to do for as long as they did. This type of execution is what takes a good run game to the next level, the Aggies are clicking.
Next, I want to look at the first time Calzada and Wydermyer connected for a TD from two different angles. First, it is great to see Calzada grow in this area of standing in the pocket! He struggles at times with happy feet or bailing out a little too quick, not here though! Stood tall and stepped up in the pocket to deliver a TD strike.
The second part of this play is great play design and execution from Wydermyer and the WRs clearing out the middle of the field. Earlier this season, the Aggies would struggle some when defenses dropped and played two-deep safeties. On this play, however, the offense creates space. At the top of the screen, Preston releases inside and creates leverage making the top side safety respect his route. At the bottom, Chapman runs a go, along with Wydermyer’s good route of selling the flag pattern makes the bottom safety widen as well. It all equals the safties too wide to make up the difference, not to mention the LB that had to pass off Wydermyer because of the crossing route underneath to Ainias.
Leon O’Neal executed a safety blitz about as well as humanly possible, here is another example of Zeb Noland’s nightmare. Aggies bring the safety, cover-up Zeb’s quick hot route in the flat, and he is left to run for his life.
The second time Calzada hit Wydermyer was a great play design, and play call against what USC was trying to do. South Carolina was getting aggressive and brings pressure, the rest of the defense flows left with the play fake as Foster and Wydermyer sneak out to set up the TE screen. The timing and execution was a thing of beauty, Ags up big and rolling!
This next clip is a shoutout to the 12thMan! Aggies are up 21-0 but the place is still absolutely rocking, the USC offense is rattled and getting pushed around. Then this bad snap happens and the dam is completely broken!
A few plays later Spiller strolls into the endzone to make it a four TD lead, but what I want to look at is how dominant the offensive line is here. The Maroon Goons collapse the defense down and one defender barely is able to get a hand on Spiller.
Edgerrin Cooper is kinda becoming my favorite defensive player, and I don't care who knows it. Aggies don’t blitz and keep everything in front of them, Noland takes the dump off to the crossing route but Cooper is just ready to TEE-OFF on the WR! The Aggies either created havoc all night or forced throws like this, and then proceeded to make USC WRs regret it.
Another bright spot in the progression of Zack Calzada was the recognition and quick decision-making on RPO’s like this one to Preston. I feel bad for the DB from USC (#21), lord knows he was just trying to help, but he got caught looking BAD! The defense is getting gashed on the ground and started biting hard on run fakes and RPOs (Run Pass Options), and I love how quick and confident 10 makes this throw!
The last play I want to look at is the epitome of what Jimbo preaches, it takes 11 to make this thing hum like it's supposed to. Yes, there is the obvious, Achane is so good and his vision is only superseded by his speed, but let's look at how well his friends made it possible. Max Wright and Jahmir Johnson win at the point of attack using the right angles and leverage to create space. Then the true FREAKING freshman Foster pulls and cleans up the trash in the ally by getting a piece of two defenders. Demas has his DB turned and gets enough of him to make him a non-factor, Ainias is doing what Ainias does (#0 is the toughest pound-for-pound dude on this team and loves the contact). You see Chase Lane working hard to keep the backside DB from making the play as well.
This kind of play shows the cultural shift taking place at Texas A&M, you don’t see finger-pointers or selfish players here. You see young men working their tails off to make sure the team as a whole flourish, the players are buying what Jimbo is selling. The execution is starting to come together with every passing game, and now a week off to rest and self-evaluate.
Ole Miss, Auburn, and LSU is not the easiest final stretch, but I feel really good about the Aggie's chances in every single one of those games. 10-2 is a real possibility, and no, that was not the goal in week one, but it seemed unrealistic after week 5. Rest up boys and let’s make some noise down the stretch! Gig ’em!