Texas A&M had arguably their most dominant performance of the year on Saturday against Mississippi State. I was set to write a glowing review of the 51-10 beatdown of a victory over the Bulldogs. And then I woke up Sunday morning to the news that Jimbo Fisher’s time in Aggieland had come to an end. We’ll still talk about the game last week but I reckon we also need to touch on what this means for both trench units moving forward. Let’s dive in.
Against Mississippi State, the Aggie offensive line had one of their best performances of 2023. Texas A&M rushed for 246 yards on 45 carries. The average YPC of 5.5 is massive and helped to put the Bulldogs away early. First-time starter Jaylen Henderson likely helped out with that number as the Fresno State transfer was the Aggies' leading rusher, accounting for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
Admittedly, some of the pass protection concerns still reared their head, and the Bulldogs did secure a pair of sacks but it felt like the gameplan on Saturday helped to work around some of those issues. Though ACU shouldn’t present too much of a problem on that front, I’d expect a gameplan that once again works within the limitations of this unit.
As for what’s next for this unit with Jimbo Fisher’s departure, I think it unlikely that Steve Addazio will remain as the offensive line coach given the performance of this position group over the course of the season. Addressing offensive line play likely represents one of the biggest pieces for whoever the new head coach of the Aggies ends up being. I still firmly believe this unit has talent and with proper development can become an asset for the Aggies. I’ll be interested to see how they play in these final two contests of 2023.
As has been the case all season, the Texas A&M defensive line was incredibly impressive once again. The Aggies managed five sacks against Mississippi State and limited the Bulldogs to just 237 yards of total offense. Additionally, Shemar Stewart tacked on a fumble return for a touchdown after a strip sack. This unit has been a strength for Texas A&M all season and that doesn’t seem to show any signs of stopping.
In contrast to the offensive line, Elijah Robinson feels like the member of this staff most fans of Texas A&M would prefer to retain on staff. Robinson is a dynamite recruiter and has clearly done a good job of developing the defensive line from last year to this year. However, with the departure of Jimbo Fisher - Robinson has been elevated from his role as assistant head coach and defensive line coach to interim head coach.
Rising to replace Robinson as defensive line coach is former Aggie defensive line great, Tony Jerod-Eddie. TJE was elevated from an analyst role to the defensive line position which makes for a seamless tradition there. I don’t see much of a drop-off happening here with the remainder of the season but it will be interesting to see what happens regarding the defensive line coach position long-term.
I don’t see Robinson going back to the defensive line coach position after this season meaning he either needs to serve as defensive coordinator or permanent head coach if the Aggies are going to keep him in College Station. If he remains on staff, I’d expect TJE to keep the defensive line position. If E-Rob isn’t retained, this spot will likely need to be filled as well. For my part, I’m hoping we don’t see any changes here.
SEC play in the penultimate week of the season often features teams taking on Group of 5 or FCS competition. Some have taken to referring to this as cupcake week. I find the term more than a little disrespectful to the teams who put so much work and effort into being the best they can be in their division but I’m going to capitalize on the dessert metaphor nevertheless.
Instead of a cupcake, I’m going with something of a Tex-Mex staple in sopapilla cheesecake. One of the most divine examples of dessert, accompanied with ice cream it’s an absolutely elite way to finish off a meal. And as we are approaching the finish of another season, it made sense to feature dessert in this edition of Trench War/Fare.