As we all are trying our best to put last weekend’s shocking loss to the Appalachian State Mountaineers behind us once and for all, head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M football team have a number of questions to answer, with only a few days left before their primetime matchup vs the 13th ranked Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night.
After falling to the Mountaineers 17-14 last weekend, the then 6th ranked Aggies began to feel the pressure mount just hours after the defeat, as many began pondering if the team is still progressing towards their goals of finally reaching the college football playoff, or if the loss indicates that the season may be lost and that Jimbo Fisher’s role as the primary play-caller has overstayed its welcome.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the team this week is the starting quarterback job after Haynes King’s recent struggles, as Fisher explained today that experienced backup Max Johnson is receiving an equal amount of reps this week, which could be a clear sign of a change to come this Saturday.
To further prepare you for the showdown with Miami this weekend, here are 6 things that Aggies fans should pay attention to ahead of 8 PM Saturday night.
Haynes King or Max Johnson at Quarterback?
Sep 3, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Max Johnson (14) throws the ball against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
At this point, knowing that Haynes King has struggled in the areas of accuracy, consistency, and a general lack of poise in the pocket, Texas A&M’s 1-1 record puts them on thin ice, and their margin for error is essentially eliminated as of now. With experienced quarterback Max Johnson waiting in the wings, displaying an SEC pedigree with a successful track record in one of the toughest conferences in the country, handing over the offense to the former LSU gunslinger may just be the jolt of energy this offense has been looking for.
Center Bryce Foster's potential return
Sep 18, 2021; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Kenyon Green (55) and offensive lineman Bryce Foster (61) in action during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the New Mexico Lobos at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Starting center Bryce Foster has missed the first two games for the Aggies this season, with his presence in the interior sorely missed as the recent struggles on the offensive line for the Aggies have begun to make a negative impact in both the running game and the passing game. Backup center Matthew Wykoff has done an adequate job, yet the strength, athleticism, and mauler-like play demeanor is what sets Foster apart, and his return could finally help this O-line gel for the first time all season.
Miami Hurricanes Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke vs the Aggies defense
Sep 10, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke (9) attempts a pass against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Van Dyke is the first of many big-name quarterbacks the Aggies are set to face off against in the 2022 season, and aside from the obvious answer in Alabama’s Bryce Young, Van Dyke may be the most talented of them all, as the Connecticut native could end up being one of the top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. In two games, he has complete over 70% of his passes for 454 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, but has yet to face a defensive back group as experienced and talented as Texas A&M’s. After a somewhat shaky performance last week, expect cornerbacks Myles Jones, Tyreek Chappell, Antonio Johnson, and the hopeful return of Jaylon Jones to show their worth against a receiving core that hasn’t overly impressed so far this season.
Running back Devon Achane's potential break out game
Texas A&M running back Devon Achane (6) crosses the goal line for a touchdown against Appalachian State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Combined with the already aforementioned return of center Bryce Foster, star running back Devon Achane has yet to make his full impact this season, mostly due to poor run blocking, which could change this weekend after another week of practice. As one of the fastest players in college football, Texas A&M’s success hinges on Devon Achanes’s ability to pick up chunk yards, which can only happen if Jimbo Fisher puts the ball in his hands early, and often.
The power of the 12th Man
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 03: Fans cheer during a game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Sam Houston State Bearkats during the first half at Kyle Field on September 03, 2022 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
As the nation witnessed last year during the 2021 season, the then 3-2 Texas A&M Aggies defeated the then No.1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 41-38 in primetime amongst a roaring Kyle Field, aided by the illustrious 12th man in one of the greatest games in Texas A&M history. As embarrassing as this season’s loss to Appalachian State was, the Aggies never give up on their team, as this Saturday’s primetime matchup against Miami will be in front of yet another packed Kyle Field, hoping to disrupt any rhythm the Hurricanes attempt to develop early in the game. A team is only as good as its fans on certain nights, so for those attending the game, Gig ’em loud and proud ya’ll.
Texas A&M's linebacker depth vs Miami's running game
Sep 3, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Sam Houston State Bearkats wide receiver Noah Smith (6) is wrapped up by Texas A&M Aggies linebacker Chris Russell Jr. (24) during the third quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Aggie’s Defensive coordinator D.J Durkin is well aware of the Hurricane’s offensive identity, which of course starts with quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, but is shared with starting running back Henry Parrish Jr., as head coach Mario Cristobal wants to establish the run game as soon as his offense takes the field against Texas A&M on Saturday night. What is currently the weakest depth position on defense for the Ags? Well, that would be at the Linebacker position, as senior mike linebacker Andre White Jr. is slated to miss Saturday’s game after sustaining a lower-body injury against Sam Houston State, reserve mike linebacker Chris Russel Jr. has performed adamantly in relief while paired with weak side linebacker Edgerrin Cooper, but as we know every year, injuries can happen at any time, and both young men may have their hands full against one of the better running backs in the country.