For the first time since 2016, Texas A&M notched a convincing victory over Arkansas inside Cowboys Stadium. As any Aggie or Razorback would tell you, weird things happen when these two team meet in Arlington. This game still featured some weirdness (two pick sixes, fumbles, questionable officiating), but, unlike most of the previous meetings, A&M physically dominated Arkansas from start to finish.
It wasn’t always pretty. After a white-hot first half from Max Johnson where he was 13/17 for 169 yards and 2 TDs, he finished the second half going 4/11 for 41 yards and had three turnovers. His receivers did drop a few passes and a couple of his incompletions were throwaways, but the turnovers will need to be less frequent against better teams. Johnson has generally protected the ball pretty well throughout his career, so three turnovers in one half is likely an anomaly.
Overall, the offense was improved from the Auburn game. The offensive line held up well in protection and committed fewer penalties. They also helped get the run game going and paved the way for Le’Veon Moss, who recorded 17 carries for 107 yards (6.3 YPC). The tight ends made plays and blocked well, Ainias Smith balled out, and the offense generally knew what they were doing and played with confidence.
Let’s get into the film.
This play only gained a couple of yards, but it’s an interesting look. We move Zuhn over to the right side, on the other side of the RT. Zuhn blocks down and the C and RT both pull outside to the right. #27 for Arkansas kind of blows it up, but it’s a creative run play that we could see more of in the future. Zuhn had a great down block here and is playing at an All-SEC level right now.
Just a gorgeous pass by Max. Evan is so dangerous out of the slot and going against man coverage. He gets a couple of steps on the defender and Max drops it in the bucket.
This is in contention for best pass I’ve seen from Max Johnson. We fake the screen to the TE and Ainias acts like he’s going to block. He gets by the DB and Johnson hits him perfectly in stride, even though he was about to get hit. Super impressive throw.
Chase Bisontis was up and down through the first half, so the coaches decided to let Dametrious Crownover some reps at RT. These are his first two plays of the game. First play, he bulldozes #56 into the ground, helping spring Amari Daniels for a first down run. Layden and Bryce do a nice job too, but Crownover just crushed his guy. On the second play, he latches on to #1 and tosses him out of the club. Just really impressive physical play from Crownover. He was equally impressive in pass protection. He’s a massive human being (listed at 6’7 315) with long arms and quick feet, defenders really struggle to get around him. Bisontis has performed admirably as a true freshman, but the coaches may need to seriously consider inserting Crownover into the starting lineup.
The run blocking was really improved in this game. Layden and Bryce are able to move #10 off the line of scrimmage and make room for Moss. The line was creating running lanes all day and Moss started really hitting his stride as a college running back.
Crownover and Layden are hell on wheels in the run game. The promptly put the DT on his back and both end up blocking the LB at the second level. Dewberry couldn’t quite get to the other LB, #28, or Moss might still be running.
This is a nice play design. Earnest Crownover, in at FB, sneaks out of the backfield and is running wide open down the sideline. But when Max goes to throw, Earnest isn’t looking for the ball. Max is quickly under pressure and is forced to get rid of the ball. Obviously, I don’t know for certain what they taught Crownover to do on this play, but if they can adjust and have him stop or look back sooner, this can be a great play.
Petrino sure knows how to dial up a 3rd down play. Ainias cuts to the inside and Jake Johnson gets up the sideline. Big brother tosses him a beautiful back shoulder pass and Jake comes down with it. Great play call, great execution, this team is doing a masterful job converting 3rd downs this season.
Arkansas send the house on this play and we have the perfect play call to beat it. The safety blitzes, leaving the middle of the field wide open. Moss picks him up and Johnson throws a strike to Jahdae Walker on the slant route, but Walker can’t make the catch. There may have been a little tug from the DB, but you have to catch that pass. Walker, who has been good so far this season, had three or four drops in the redzone. Hopefully he bounces back in the coming weeks.
Trey. Freakin. Zuhn. Zuhn works a double team with Dewberry here and then works back outside to seal off the inside linebacker (#28, who had a great day against us), opening a huge hole for Moss. After an injury-riddled season last year, Zuhn is playing as well as anyone on the A&M team right now.
Neither of the past two games were perfect by the offense. Both games felt like A&M should have won 40-6, but penalties, mistakes, and turnovers kept the offense from reaching it’s potential. However, the week-to-week improvement is evident. The ceiling for the offense is incredibly high. If they can keep cleaning things up and improving week over week, they will put what they are truly capable of on full display at some point this season. They could do so as early as this coming Saturday, when they battle Alabama for the pole position in the SEC West.