No. 23 Texas A&M (1-1) fell in their rematch against Miami (2-0) in what proved to be a humbling 48-33 loss. For the Maroon and White, it’s evident there are areas to address as the season moves forward.
Despite their special teams unit generating some early momentum at the onset, a sluggish end to the first half gave all the momentum to the Hurricanes as they led 21-17. By the start of the third quarter, it was bombs away for Miami as offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson outcoached, and outschemed, Aggies defensive coordinator DJ Durkin.
Despite Texas A&M dropping to .500 and with an expected monsoon of negative reactions on the way this week, by no means is the season lost. As Texas’ upset over Alabama late Saturday night highlighted, the SEC West appears to be up for grabs this year. The Aggies can very much contend, but it starts with cleaning up some glaring issues that arose this past weekend.
Here are the five takeaways from Texas A&M’s 48-33 loss to Miami in Week 2.
The Conner Weigman - Evan Stewart connection is real
Let’s start with a hint of positivity here. Aside from the special teams unit keeping them afloat early in the game, a clear bright spot was the brewing connection between Conner Weigman and Evan Stewart. Weigman finished 31/53 for 336 yards and two touchdowns while showing perseverance after throwing his first two interceptions of his career.
Stewart continues to illustrate his elite receiving talent, having caught 11 passes for 142 yards to lead the Aggies. Despite Miami’s front seven generating some pressure on Weigman, A&M’s offense still looked strong as they reached the 30-plus point mark in consecutive weeks. The rapport between Weigman and Stewart is at the core.
An atrocious tackling performance
Both Jimbo Fisher and Demani Richardson underscored the porous tackling performance on display against the Hurricanes in the postgame. Granted, some of the big plays that Miami generated came at the expense of Texas A&M’s defensive backs getting beat in coverage, plain and simple. But what was most concerning was how the Hurricanes shed tackles with ease.
At one point through the third quarter Miami had generated 235 passing yards, with 146 of those coming after the catch. To be fair, everyone in the secondary was at fault for a missed tackle or two. But it does beg the question of why the likes of a true freshman in Jayvon Thomas are out there as opposed to a seasoned veteran such as Tony Grimes, considering how consequential the matchup was.
A concerning lack of pressure up front
The Aggies did limit Miami to just 77 yards on the ground, but for the most part, it felt as if Texas A&M failed to generate sufficient pressure up front. Aside from a sack each from Shemar Turner and Shemar Stewart, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke felt relatively untouched when it came to throwing in the pocket.
That showed as Van Dyke finished 21/30 for 374 yards and five touchdowns, with an average of 12.5 yards per attempt. Miami averaged a substantial 8.4 yards per play overall, which begs the question of how a talent-laden defensive line group failed to muster anything of substance. Does it speak to their development, or does it fall on the one calling the plays?
Is DJ Durkin's seat getting warm after two weeks?
After being torched for 48 points and 451 total yards of offense, is it time to question whether DJ Durkin’s job is in jeopardy? It’s a valid point brought up by Aggies Wire Managing Editor Cameron Ohynsty, as Durkin has failed to showcase exactly what strengths he brings when it comes to his defensive scheme.
If the secondary can’t tackle in open space, and if the front seven fails to generate pressure, what are the bright spots moving forward? It’s a short turnaround to Week 3 against UL Monroe, but how Durkin and this defense respond will be telling, especially with conference play just around the corner.
Where is Moose?
Moose Muhammad III finished with just one reception for 15 yards in Saturday’s loss to Miami. That follows up a Week 1 performance in which he had three catches for 12 yards and a touchdown, with the latter coming in garbage time. Is it time to get a bit worried about Muhammad’s role in the offense?
At the very least, one has to consider whether he’s in the dog house of sorts, or if he’s beginning to be surpassed on the depth chart by the likes of Jahdae Walker, whose size makes him invaluable when the likes of Noah Thomas gets banged up, as we saw in Week 2. If Muhammad is nowhere to be seen in Week 3, then it could be the case of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
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