Your Fightin Texas Aggies improved their record to 3-0 by flexing a monstrous defensive effort against the Lobos from New Mexico. Coming off of a challenging win last week against Colorado, the Ags had a lot of questions to answer in this game...and truth be told I’m not sure if we answered all of them. A lot of good, a lot of bad from this game, so let’s jump right in.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Layden Robinson was out so we switched Green from right tackle to right guard and started the game with (from left to right) Johnson, Ogunbiyi, Foster, Green, and Trainor. At points in the game we saw Fatheree go in for both Johnson and Trainor and perform pretty admirably. But this offensive line struggled in a big way today to the tune of 14 carries for 34 yards in the first half. It got better, finishing the day with 34 carries for 154, but we’ve got a to of questions and concerns on that line, as evidenced by Jimbo saying, at both the half and at the end of the game, that we have to do a better job of blocking up front.
It seems like our best lineup is Johnson/Fatheree, Ogunbiyi, Foster, Robinson, and Green...but that’s the same lineup that seemed to get pretty beat up against Colorado...but that might be the best that we can do this year given that Matthews is injury prone.
Ideally, I think, our best option would be to slide Foster out to guard and put Matthews in at center, but I doubt we ever see that come to fruition.
I’m going to include Jalen Wydermyer in this discussion because, much like the OL, after a tremendous 2020, he’s struggled coming in to 2021. He finished the day with 4 catches for 39 yards on 7 targets (much better than last week) but missed a few key blocks and had a few balls bounce off of his hands. I don't know if it’s the change in QB, or what but we need more from Jalen. He’s an All American tight end capable of taking over games and we just haven't seen it yet this year.
Either way, despite putting up 429 yards on 67 plays, the offensive line struggled today which is not great news given the fact that we play a motivated Arkansas team that dominated in the trenches last week, and one that we’ve struggled to rush against for the past few years (Trayveon was the last guy who ran for 100+ against the hogs). Josh Henson has his work cut out for him because after a fantastic 2020 season, it feels like we’re right back to 2019.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME GOOD NEWS!
We gave up 122 yards, 33 passing, ad 89 rushing. I don't particularly care who you’re playing, holding a team to less than 150 is a helluva accomplishment. The DL is dominant (as usual) and the young linebackers struggled at times, but also had some tremendous moments-Edgerrin Cooper in particular finished with 3 solo tackles and an INT towards the end of the game.
Zach finished the game 19-33 for 275 with 3 TDs and 1 INT. If we get this stat line from him all year we’ll be in really good shape. He was decisive in throwing the ball, spread the ball around (7 different guys catching balls) and made some really really great throws. I”ve got no real issue with how Calzada played today. Great day for the kid.
My children told me I was being too loud when Demond Demas caught that long TD and I told them I didn't care. What a moment for that young man—for his first grab to be a 70 yard TD on a go route, something that ALL OF US have been begging for since he first put on a maroon jersey. Demas finished the day with 2 catches for 100 yards (targeted 7 times), and was the leading receiver today. He’s still got a lot to learn and a lot of room for growth but we finally saw the 5 star play like a 5 star.
In 2019 we saw a young Ainias Smith get playing time early in the year mainly because Quartney Davis went down with an injury. You never want to see players get dinged up, but that same injury bug is what resulted in us seeing Demas, and Moose Muhammad get some playing time. Moose had a beautiful 7 yard catch for a TD. These guys are so talented that hopefully we’ll get to the point where we just cant keep them off the field.
Let’s give Nik Constantinou some love here. He’s turning into a good weapon for us. He had 4 punts today, averaged 45.5 per punt with a long of 61, and did a great job of consistently pinning Colorado deep on their side of the field (Colorado only ran a handful of plays on our side of the 50 all game). Good outing for everyone’s favorite Aussie.
We won by almost 5 TDs and shut out a team at home...which is great but I think all of us are rightfully a bit uneasy about the rest of the year. I think the OL issues are mostly personnel-based—just trying to get the right 5 out there at the same time and letting them grow together, but due to injuries it’s a bit frustrating that we haven't been able to figure it out.
This team has the potential to be really really good...the question is I don't know whether that potential is for us to be really really good this year, or in the future. If we get this OL situation figured out then yes, absolutely we can be really good. If we don't...then well...let’s just hope we get it figured out.
3-0 going into Arkansas week. Time to lock in and get things done in SEC play.