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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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4 takeaways from A&M’s loss to Florida

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman WR Evan Stewart (1) completes a pass from sophomore QB Haynes King (13) for a first down during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at Kyle Field on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

For five games in a row, Texas A&M football has failed to execute and pull out a win, falling to 3-6 this season and 1-5 in SEC play. The bleeding continues as the Aggies’ season slips away and their postseason chances become less likely with each passing game.
With A&M needing to run the table to gain bowl eligibility, the team’s 41-24 loss to Florida showed a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of the group. Let’s look at some key takeaways from the Aggies’ Week 10 loss.
Too many players out
Despite the loss to the Gators, the Aggies were not aided by the number of players they had available. After reports came out that A&M would be without many contributors due to the flu, notably freshman quarterback Conner Weigman and freshman defensive back Bryce Anderson, both the offensive and defensive units looked depleted for the maroon and white.
“It’s one of the [most depleted rosters] I’ve ever had,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “That’s neither here nor there; you have got to play with the guys you’ve got. We have plenty of good players and had plenty of opportunities today to do what we needed to do.”
Fisher mentioned that sophomore edge rusher Fadil Diggs, who had played strongly as of late, as well as sophomore defensive back Deuce Harmon would miss the rest of the season with injuries. The Aggies had already lost three offensive linemen and wide receiver Ainias Smith for the season, and junior defensive back Antonio Johnson was out again with an injury, but the Aggies have also lost players for non-football-related reasons. The team suspended three freshmen for the season, and Fisher mentioned that sophomore wide receiver Yulkeith Brown was currently away from the program as well.
The Aggies are balancing youth, inexperience and injuries at every position, and if they want to win out to make a bowl game, depth play will be the most important piece of the puzzle.
Tackling was bad
Florida ran for 291 yards, the fourth time this season the Aggies gave up 200-plus yards on the ground. The run defense has been the weakest link all season for A&M and has been targeted and exposed over recent weeks. Yet, against Florida, there was more defensive pressure and penetration into the backfield than earlier this season. The Aggies accrued eight tackles for loss on 50 rushing attempts.
The difference in Week 10, though, was that the tackling was at its worst all season. Despite often racing the Florida running backs in the backfield, A&M often failed to bring the runner down and allowed lots of yards after contact.
“We try to harp on that every day, every practice,” sophomore linebacker Edgerrin Cooper said. “That was our main thing was tackling, making sure we wrap up, and certain situations like that happened today and we just weren’t successful at it.”
Offense regressed in the second half
After opening up the game with a 14-point first quarter for just the second time all season, the first being the week before against Ole Miss, it felt like the team’s offensive woes had finally been solved and had become a thing of the past. However, the offensive seemed to regress back to the mean it had shown all season, and the Aggies sputtered out for a zero-point second-half showing.
Junior offensive lineman Layden Robinson attributed A&M’s second-half struggles to a mixture of Gators’ defensive game-planning and adjustments as well as the Aggies’ mental mistakes that cost them valuable yards.
“I believe they came out the half with something different,” Robinson said, adding that Florida’s use of stunts and twists changed the game for A&M’s offensive line. “And, we were just shooting ourselves in the foot. Making [missed assignments,] mental mistakes … We had some plays that really could have hit for big yardage, but we just didn’t execute.”
The road to a bowl game continues to get steeper
As previously mentioned, the Aggies need to win the remaining three games this season to be eligible for a bowl game. On the schedule, A&M will travel to Auburn before coming home to close the season out with UMass and an LSU team that is currently ranked.
Heading into Auburn’s Week 10 game against Mississippi State, the Tigers are 3-5, have a 1-4 record in conference play and are riding a four-game losing streak. UMass has a Week 10 bye, but sits at 1-8 on the season. LSU, currently ranked No. 10 by the College Football Playoff Committee and No. 15 by the AP Poll, heads into its Week 10 game against Alabama with a 6-2 record, a 4-1 record in conference play and a two-game winning streak.
While bowl eligibility is certainly not out of the realm of possibility, having their backs against the wall makes the Aggies’ journey more difficult. A&M can not afford to slip up one more time or they will become ineligible for the postseason for the first time since 2008. Even with plenty of valid excuses, A&M fans expect results that the team has been unable to match so far this year.
“We’ll play hard, and we’ll practice hard,” Fisher said. “Auburn’s a tough place to play. Come back to UMass and LSU and get two home games, we’ll play for these seniors and play our tails off. The character of these guys, they’ll play.”

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