The Maroon and White had to respond with an efficient performance on both sides of the ball following their humbling loss to Miami last weekend. A thorough double-digit victory against the Warhawks was just what the doctor ordered before the Aggies start the SEC part of their schedule next Saturday.
Conner Weigman continues to profile as the game-changing quarterback that this football program needs to reach new heights. His explosive performance even caught the eye of a legendary Aggies quarterback who was in attendance. In spite of playing without his top target, Texas A&M’s receiving group, led by Ainias Smith and Jahdae Walker, torched the Warhawks’ secondary for over 100 receiving yards apiece.
It proved to be a highly efficient day on both sides of the football, with the Aggies giving up just a field goal to UL Monroe. Still, as the regular season truly begins against Auburn next Saturday, it’s clear there are still areas to address, particularly when it comes to the defense generating pressure.
Here are the five immediate takeaways from Texas A&M’s 47-3 rout of UL Monroe.
Conner Weigman will steer the trajectory of the season
What else is there left to say about Conner Weigman at this point? After a scorching first half to put the Aggies up 27-3, Weigman ended the day 25/29 for 337 passing yards with one passing touchdown, and one rushing score. Those final numbers put him just shy of the all-time Aggie completion record.
Even without his top target in Evan Stewart, Weigman again displayed poise and efficiency in the pocket. It’s clear at this point that the sophomore will be the one tasked to elevate Texas A&M to its highest potential this season.
The wide receiver depth is as advertised
Jimbo Fisher underscored the importance of the young receivers making an impact in Saturday’s win. While Ainias Smith and Moose Muhammad III saw more targets go their way, it was Jahdae Walker who had a day to remember. Like Smith, Walker finished over the century mark in receiving yards (110) to go along with a touchdown.
Aside from the need to step up in the case of injuries, the Aggies’ receiver depth will prove invaluable as the season shifts toward the SEC slate. Throwing different looks, and players with matchup advantages, at SEC defenses should give A&M a trick up their sleeve.
The defense responded well, though ares of improvement remain
It’s safe to say that the Aggies defense responded well after giving up just a field goal to the Warhawks, compared to allowing 48 points to Miami last week. Despite a short-handed secondary that was without starters Jardin Gilbert and Tyreek Chappell, Jacoby Mathews and Duece Harmon held their own as replacements.
The backend group tallied six breakups across just 17 pass attempts, with Josh DeBerry recording two himself. The defense did give up 127 yards rushing (4.1 YPA), and often easily gave up contain on the edge. It underscores a continued area to address as the season rolls along.
The pass rush...still leaves much to be desired
Aside from two sacks from Shemar Turner and defensive end Malick Sylla, the pass rush was a bit suspect against the Warhawks. Alongside those two sacks, the Aggies managed just three tackles for a loss, which is a bit concerning given the talent level on the defensive line. Ultimately, it continues a trend from what we saw last season.
Is it a factor of the Aggies playing down to their opponents? Should we expect to see this ramp up once SEC play begins next week? Jimbo Fisher didn’t seem too worried but, this is worth keeping an eye on going forward.
Injuries will be key to monitor with SEC play on the horizon
Noah Thomas got knicked up in Saturday’s win, as did freshman offensive lineman Chase Bisontis. That’s on top of the DNPs of Stewart and Bryce Foster, who Fisher indicated were prepared to play but kept out of action as a precaution. In hindsight, holding them out in a surefire win against UL Monroe was the sound strategy.
However, the hope is that injuries won’t once again throw a wrench into what appears to be a promising season. A football team is only as good as their two-deep, but in a critical 2023 season for this program, you want to roll with your best on any given Saturday.