Texas A&M’s trench units both got off to solid starts against New Mexico. However, the Lobos are one thing. Heading to South Florida to play Miami is a different animal. The revamped Aggie offense will hope to continue building on the momentum from last week while Texas A&M’s defense will hope to continue limiting the run game. Let’s kick things off on the offensive side of the ball.
In a number of ways, the Lobos represented a great first opponent for the Texas A&M offensive line. New Mexico fields one of the most aggressive defenses in college football. Blitzes, stunts, twists, and just about any other exotic you can think of were thrown at the Aggies. Texas A&M did allow two sacks, but none in the first half.
It wasn’t a flawless performance - at times Texas A&M struggled against the aggressiveness of the New Mexico defensive philosophy. Chase Bisontis struggled at times, as you’d expect from a true freshman offensive lineman. The run-blocking performance needs to improve as well.
The performance really comes down to figuring out how much of A&M’s issues came down to the typical first-week issues combined with New Mexico’s constant blitzing and loading of the box. Alternatively, is the fact that Weigman was under pressure often indicative of issues for this position group? Perhaps I’m just trying to talk myself out of getting to hyped over what was an impressive and refreshing offensive performance for Texas A&M.
Of course, it’s hard to be certain about this unit until the Aggies face a team with a more reasonable pressure vs. base balance and a touch more talent. Enter Miami.
The Hurricanes will look to pressure Conner Weigman but the numbers on exotics will be far less than what the Aggies saw from New Mexico. The talent will also be better. Akheem Mesidor was the defensive lineman for the Canes that really jumped out to me from the tape and both Bisontis and Trey Zuhn will have their hands full.
On the interior, I have fewer concerns. The strength of the Texas A&M offensive line comes from the guards and center Bryce Foster. Though there was certainly some rust from Foster against UNM, he looked good for a guy returning from injury. Miami has greater athleticism at the tackle spots than the Lobos but the Aggie offensive line should be able to generate some push and maintain pocket integrity in the pass game.
I’m hoping to see the unit take a step forward on the road in Miami.
Going into this season, the defensive line knew that addressing the run game issues from 2022 was the key to success. The Aggies limited New Mexico to just 91 yards on the ground - holding an opponent under 100 yards rushing for the first time under DC DJ Durkin. Now Texas A&M faces an opponent that has a very talented rushing attack to attempt to slow.
An offensive line unit that struggled in 2022 has been bolstered by a pair of transfers, Javion Cohen from Alabama and Matt Lee from UCF. True freshman Francis Mauigoa starts at right tackle for the Canes, representing the third new face on this offensive line. Anez Cooper and Jalen Rivers represent the starters who were on the roster for Mario Cristobal last year in Miami. This unit hopes to provide gaps for a talented triumvirate of running backs in Henry Parrish Jr., Mark Fletcher Jr., and Ajay Allen.
If Texas A&M hopes to slow down these backs, controlled penetration will need to come from the interior of the defensive line. McKinnley Jackson at nose has the ability to overwhelm Lee at center with his strength and cause havoc in the run game but discipline will be needed in that key matchup. Lee is an incredibly intelligent player and a veteran who provides massive stability to this Canes front as a grad transfer. A big part of Miami’s 6.9 yards per carry against Miami of Ohio in Week One was Lee’s ability to pull and use his athleticism to seal off the opposing defensive line.
In the passing game, the pass rush still needs to improve but finding sacks against Tyler Van Dyke may be tough early on. I haven’t been super impressed by Van Dyke’s arm on the deep throws and it looks like the Hurricane game plan will be to run a lot of quick game, RPOs, and screens in order to get the ball out and not rely on the QB to push the ball down the field. Texas A&M’s defensive line will need to be prepared with those pursuit angles (every defensive lineman’s least favorite drill) to rally to the ball after it is thrown in order to prevent Miami’s receivers from racking up yards after catch.
The matchup between Jackson and Lee that I mentioned above is my key to watch for the Texas A&M defensive line. With the Canes looking to establish the run early, if #3 can create disruption Miami will get behind the chains. From there, the Aggies can pressure Tyler Van Dyke and force mistakes.
Disciplined pursuit is the name of the game here.
Last year we went with the Cubano for the fare, South Florida’s favorite sandwich. This year we go with another staple of the region influenced by Cuba, ropa vieja.
The literal translation of ropa vieja may not sound appetizing but the shredded beef dish in a stewed tomato sauce was one of my favorite bites on my last visit to Florida. Served with rice and beans, it’s a simple meal packed full of flavor.
Of course, the best way to wash it down is with a mojito. Salud and BTHOmiami.