No. 23 Texas A&M take on the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks tonight at AT&T Stadium to open SEC play. It’s a game that’s expected to be close, with the Aggies listed as a two-point favorite, and more importantly, could set the tone for what we should expect to see from this Aggie team for the rest of the season.
We all know how awful the Appalachian State game was. It happened, but it’s in the past. Everyone was happy with the result against Miami, even if the performance was far from perfect. Tonight, A&M has another chance to take a step forward and prove that they are still a team who can do something in 2022.
Reasons for hope?
College football teams are rarely finished products in September. The teams we see at the end of the year often look very different than the ones we saw at the beginning as players settle into the system and gain more experience. So what gives us reason to hope we’ll see an improved A&M team this Saturday?
- Bryce Foster continues to recover: Foster played against Miami while still recovering from mono. But in what he described as “the most painful game” of his career, he was likely far from 100%. Expect to see Foster, and therefore this offensive line, improve week by week.
- Offensive firepower: WRs Evan Stewart and Chris Marshall were two of four players suspended for the Miami game for a curfew violation (along with DBs Smoke Bouie and Denver Harris). We saw the A&M wide receivers struggle to gain separation last week, but these two guys excel at doing just that. Let’s hope their return against a struggling Arkansas secondary can give this offense the boost it needs.
- Max Johnson gains confidence: Max Johnson has played a lot of football, but starting your first game for a new team, at a new stadium, has to be daunting. Here’s hoping he keeps the poise he showed last week and gets a bit more help from those around him (referenced above).
The season isn’t over if A&M can’t win today. There are still winnable games left on the schedule and plenty to play for. However a win today certainly raises the bar for what we hope to see from this team. A win means you’re 1-0 in SEC play after beating ranked teams in back-to-back weeks, likely back in the top 20 nationally, and with every one of your preseason goals still in front of you. As unlikely as some of those may be, they’re still on the table.
Lose, and you’re likely hoping to simply get 6-8 wins. That’s not catastrophic, but it certainly less than what we had hoped for this team (and likely what they had aspired to themselves). We’ll see in a few hours which direction this season takes.