HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOO AND WELCOME, to another season of Texas A&M football. With the Aggies back on the gridiron, I am here again to talk about the play of both the offensive and defensive lines while also offering up a dish HOPEFULLY themed on the opponent in a given week. Sometimes, I may wing it. Either way, Trench War/Fare is back.
With a week one matchup against New Mexico that the Aggies ought to handle, we’ll start by talking about what I expect out of the lines on both sides of the ball in 2023. As the year progresses and I have more film to dive into, the write-ups will get more robust and there will be a greater focus on key matchups. For now, our focus is the Texas A&M roster.
It’s no secret the offensive line needs to improve in 2023. I know it, you know it, and they know it. Of course, a big reason for the disappointing 2022 campaign was injury. The Aggies saw several different starting combinations up front, a massive thorn in the side of a position group that thrives on continuity.
The Aggies hope to have a bit more luck on the injury front in 2023, though it appears a couple of projected starters are already dealing with injury. Against New Mexico, it appears that true freshman Chase Bisontis will get the start at right tackle, filling in for Reuben Fatheree, who is still getting back to 100% after suffering an injury late in spring. The good news for the Aggies is with the injuries suffered last year, Texas A&M possesses plenty of depth with game experience.
Bryce Foster might also be a bit banged up which will be something to keep an eye on. If Foster isn’t ready to go against the Lobos, expect Mark Nabou to be the next man up. Layden Robinson at right guard, Kam Dewberry at left guard, and Trey Zuhn at left tackle are all locked in.
We’ll see how this unit looks against New Mexico but I’m expecting obvious improvement compared to 2022. Disciplined play that minimizes mistakes and emphasizes communication will be the key. I’m sure the Lobos will mix in some stunts and twists given A&M’s issues picking those up in 2023.
I’m not expecting a perfect performance from this group in week one, but I do expect them to look better than they did against Sam Houston State in 2022. I’m also interested to see how the change in offensive philosophy from Jimbo Fisher to Bobby Petrino impacts the approach up front, if at all.
When I look at the two-deep for Texas A&M’s defensive line, I see a position group that is as talented as any in the country. McKinnley Jackson and Walter Nolen holding down the two interior defensive line spots. Fadil Diggs and Shemar Turner will hold down the edges.
Much like the 2022 offensive line, the 2022 defensive line was a unit with high expectations and disappointing results. However, in the case of this unit, I believe the cause had much more to do with youth and inexperience compared to injury.
The Texas A&M defense ranked near the worst at the FBS level in rushing yards allowed and sacks on opposing QBs. Texas A&M wasn’t getting blown off the ball, but poor gap discipline muddied the view for the linebackers and led to opposing backs gashing the Aggie defense.
In the passing game, Texas A&M pressured quarterbacks but often failed to finish with sacks and even worse, allowed mobile passers to escape the pocket and tack on additional rushing yards.
What do I hope to see from this unit against New Mexico?
In summary, dominance and discipline.
The Aggies will be more talented than the Lobos by far. They need to showcase the disparity in talent level on Saturday. Additionally, they need to maintain discipline against the run and while rushing the passer. Maintaining gap and pass rush lane integrity will be a major key in improving the defensive numbers. That starts against New Mexico.
I will forever extoll the values of New Mexican cuisine and a couple of weeks ago I got to head up to the Land of Enchantment and partake in some local fare. With UNM coming to town, it seemed the perfect excuse to throw it back to vacation (and much better temperatures up in the mountains).
I had more green chiles than I can count (burgers, pizza, burritos, and even a green chile-infused beer) but my favorite bit of New Mexican cuisine I had was the Carne Adovada from Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe. I still have dreams of using the smoky and spicy sauce as an accompaniment to burnt ends but at Orlando’s, it’s served with grilled pork tenderloin medallions. The beans and posole on the side are typical of Northern New Mexican food as well.