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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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5 takeaways from A&M-New Mexico

Photo by Photo by Ryan Hartfiel

Quarterback, Zach Calzada communicates to the offense as they line up for a play. 

No. 7 Texas A&M football held its second home game of the season, this time against the University of New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, Sept. 18, winning 34-0. This game served as the first collegiate start for redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada.

Here’s what we learned:

Defensive shutout

With 57 total tackles — 35 of which were solos, 11 tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries, three broken up passes and four sacks — the A&M defense had quite a game against the Lobos. With a new shutout added to their resume, the Aggies hadn’t held an opponent scoreless since Sept. 10, 2016, against Prairie View A&M, 67-0. Junior defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal was one of the defensive leaders, posting 1.5 sacks, three total and one solo tackle.

Leal said the shutout justified the defensive goals A&M had going into the first 11 a.m. kickoff of the season.

“It shows that we’re trying to stop the run, stopping the pass and having a complete game where we’re locked in from start to finish,” Leal said.

The new QB1

Needing to make an impression right out of the gate, Calzada did not disappoint. In A&M’s opening drive, the new QB1 put up 42 passing yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to sophomore running back Devon Achane. For his game totals, the former backup logged 275 passing yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. For the running game, Calzada handed the ball off to junior star running back Isaiah Spiller the most, allowing the Spring native to post 117 rushing yards and one touchdown. If Calzada continues to add to his statsheet in this manner, it is possible he will keep the starting position even after redshirt freshman quarterback Haynes King’s recovery

Spiller said while Calzada played well, he needs to improve in regards to consistency.

“I feel like Zach [Calzada] had a great day,” Spiller said. “He managed the offense pretty well. We just [have] got to finish toward the end of the game.”

First half mentality

One of the Aggies’ main problems in the first two games of the season was dealing with slow starts in the first halves. Against Kent State, A&M put up 10 points in the first half and only three against the Buffaloes. With the Aggies scoring 14 points alone in the first quarter against New Mexico, this problem was rectified. However, the maroon and white maintained offensive prowess mostly throughout the game, scoring 10 points in the second quarter and 10 in the third.

“I promise you, we have the mentality [of scoring early], we finally executed early,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We were reading to go up three scores, which is a big part of the game. To get up three scores and start how you’re playing. The emphasis has been there, we just have to execute. We have to do a better job coaching, a better job executing the play.”

Punt returns 

Based on the statsheet, to say the Aggies were dominant on punt returns would be a massive understatement. Junior dual threat wide receiver and running back Ainias Smith was a phenom on the special teams unit, posting 78 yards on punt returns. Additionally, Smith had one punt return that resulted in touchdowns but was called back due to holding.

“Punt return, excellent,” Fisher said. “Ainias [Smith] set up a couple big scores. He was outstanding in the game, in that part of it.”

Demond Demas

Ever since the conclusion of last season, fans were wondering why former 5-star recruit and true freshman wide receiver Demond Demas did not see much action on the football field. This all changed in the faceoff against New Mexico, with Demas seeing his first collegiate start, as junior wide receiver Caleb Chapman was not dressed out for the contest. In the maroon and white’s second drive of the game, the Tomball native had his first collegiate catch and touchdown reception, off of a 70-yard pass from Calzada. For game totals, the wide receiver put up 100 receiving yards.

Fisher said Demas’s performance is representative of what A&M football’s future is going to look like.
“He has all the ability in the world,” Fisher said. “I’m very pleased with him right now. For us to be who we want to be, he’s going to be a big part of it, for sure.”

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