First and foremost, our thoughts go out to Arkansas LB John Morgan and his family. Wishing him a speedy recovery and that everything turns out to be ok.
A&M beat Arkansas 34-22 in the latest iteration of the Southwest Classic. In a series marked by total weirdness, in some sense this was a bit of a ho hum beat down...I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the game wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates but that’s just how this game goes. Let’s break it down with some quick hitters
Since joining the SEC A&M has beaten Arkansas 11/12 times. Max Johnson becomes the fourth A&M QB (along with Johnny, Kyle, Kellen) to log multiple wins over the Hogs. I remember when Petrino had us in absolutely hell with four straight wins from 2008-2011, and this streak is almost three times as long. Wild.
First quarter we gave up 107 to Arkansas (23 rushing 84 passing). Arkansas ended the game with 174 total yards (42 rushing 132 passing—44 of which came on one play in the fourth). KJ Jefferson finished 9/17 for 132 yards with 1 TD/1 INT, and the hogs had 39 carries for 42 yards.
To put that into perspective last week the Hogs put up 289 passing and 137 rushing on LSU last week. And we did THAT to them.
It seems like Durkin is starting to click a bit with his roster. This marks two weeks in a row that we’ve had 15 tackles for loss, and we had 7 (SEVEN!) sacks in this game. The DL was dominant. And man how about the linebackers with York and Coop showing out in huge ways and Russell getting a Pick 6.
Focus might be inside the box but the secondary had to be doing something to keep Arkansas off balance. Bryce Anderson flashed finishing with six tackles, Chappell had some huge breakups, Matthews was super active out there.
This defense is really good. Put the stats of the past two weeks together and we’ve got something cooking.
It’s wasn’t just on offense but we need to talk about Ainias. He had 202 total yards today (71 receiving and 131 in returns including an ELECTRIC put return for a TD which iced the game). Ainias single handedly outgained the Hogs in yardage. And given how last years game ended for him, this just feels really really good.
Another guy who deserves a metaphorical game ball is Le’Veon Moss, with 134 total yards. We’ve been RBing by committee these past few weeks but I think a guy might have emerged. Feed 8.
Evan Stewart showed why he’s one of the best receivers in the country with that toe touch. He took a hard lick on the sidelines and also was in the tent earlier. We’ll need him full speed against Bama.
Lastly, Max did a great job out there. 17/28 for 210 with 2 TDs and 1 INT (which I put more on the play call than I do the execution) and 9 carries for 57 yards. Jimbo had had the tendency to recruit dual threat guys who he can turn into pro style passers, and Max is the first dude who’s run this offense (aside from Calzada) who’s a legit pro style QB. I wish we’d run him a little bit less given our depth issues and with Moss’s emergence, but he did a great job today.
THINGS TO CLEAN UP
I said last week that we have to stop with the self inflicted wounds and I stand by that today. We dominated this game, despite missing 2 FGs, having pick 6, and giving up a fumble, and not punching the ball in at the end. This game very very easily could have been 45+ to whatever...but it wasn’t. This was a great win but we cannot continue to leave points on the field. This team is too good for that. We are too talented to keep doing this.
5 GAMES IN
We’re 4-1 with a loss to what seems to be a pretty solid Miami team, and with two really solid wins to open up SEC play. I think we have the potential to be a really really good team. I think we ARE a really good team that needs to continue to get better.
Bama looms. Huge week coming which will tell us exactly what kind of year we have the capacity to have. Don't get it twisted...this game is absolutely winnable and we know it. Big week coming up.
Enjoy this win Ags. Great day for your Fightin’ Texas Aggies. Shout out to Desmond Howard.