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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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6 takeaways from Monday’s football press conference

Defensive+back+Antonio+Johnson+denying+Jahleel+Billingsley+a+touchdown+during+the+victory+over+No.+1+Alabama.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Defensive back Antonio Johnson denying Jahleel Billingsley a touchdown during the victory over No. 1 Alabama.

In a nail-biting fourth quarter, Texas A&M did what most college football teams dream of: defeating Alabama.

After an SEC thriller that shocked all of college football, A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and his players met with the media to discuss the Oct. 9 41-38 Alabama upset and what lies ahead for No. 21 A&M. On Saturday, Oct. 16, the Aggies will take on unranked Missouri on the road.

Here’s what we learned:
Calzada clocked in and never clocked out

Redshirt sophomore Zach Calzada proved that anything can drastically change in just a week. The play-caller transitioned from receiving constant hate and criticism to being a walking legend on the A&M campus. Calzada took initiative and led his team to knock off Alabama, the reigning national champions. The resilient QB threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, a performance that crowned him SEC Offensive Player of the Week. In addition, he took one brutal hit while throwing a touchdown pass that caused him to limp off the field. Calzada returned to the game like it never happened and finished with a game-winning drive. Calzada became one of three A&M quarterbacks to beat Alabama head coach Nick Saban, writing his name on a list next to A&M legend Johnny Manziel and Trevor Knight, who defeated Saban at his time at Oklahoma before transferring to A&M. 

“[Calzada] played with great toughness,” Fisher said. “He competed in the game. He got banged. He got bruised, then he came back out to lead us to a two-minute drive.”
A maroon goon opportune

Continuing a theme of improvement, A&M’s offensive line controlled the Tide’s aggressive defensive efforts. Prior to Alabama, the Maroon Goons struggled to find their rhythm, allowing 13 sacks in the first four games. In a game that shocked the nation, the youthful line held then-No. 1 Alabama to zero sacks. Multi-position lineman Kenyon Green led the bunch and said the offensive line as a whole improved against the Crimson Tide.

“The o-line as a unit, we are breaking out of our shell,” Green said. “This week really showed what we can bring to the table and what we can build on.”
It runs in the family

A&M football has always stressed a “family” mentality, but in reality, a blood line really does connect the players. At Monday’s press conference, junior running back Isaiah Spiller brought it to the media’s attention that he and sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson found out this season that they are cousins. The relatives are not entirely sure where their family tree links, but it is evident that football is in their roots.

“Fun fact, me and AJ are actually cousins,” Spiller said. “I think third cousins, something like that. [On] my mom’s side, I think my grandma and his aunt are related [somehow].”

Block social media out

Every week, there has been one factor Fisher continues to pound into the head’s of these Generation Z players: to block out social media. The maroon and white’s season had its fair share of ups and downs and with such a large fanbase, comments have been made about every aspect of the team. Fisher has encouraged his players to block it out and said he has done so himself.

“I have never had one [form of social media]” Fisher said. “I don’t send emails. I get texts and I get messages. If you can’t do that or come see me, we’re not going to communicate.”

Chaos causes equipment exchanges

When the reigning national champions are taken down by an unranked opponent, it causes a night of utter displacement. After the upset, a large number of the 106,815 fans in attendance rushed the field to celebrate the victory, resulting in a $100,000 fine courtesy of the Southeastern Conference. While the Aggies attempted to exchange words with Alabama, fans storming the field wanted to exchange other items. Calzada, the star of the game, was seen wearing an A&M Corps of Cadets bider while many helmets were spotted on the heads of Corps members and fans. Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Campbell swapped uniforms with a cadet, topping off the electric connection between the players and the 12th Man. Following the game, freshman linebacker Edgerrin Cooper tweeted that he was fine with his helmet being stolen. He said at Monday’s press conference he was happy for the lucky fan who secured the souvenir.

“In that situation, everybody is excited,” Cooper said. “I’m just happy for the person.”

Time to move on

The 2021 Alabama upset will go down in A&M history as one of the most exciting games played at Kyle Field, but now the Aggies have to focus on what lies ahead. In the SEC, every game is a battle and with opponents like Missouri, South Carolina and Auburn up next, the Aggies have to move along and place all their attention on defeating Missouri on the road on Saturday, Oct. 16.

“The [Alabama] game is over with. I am tired of talking about it,” Fisher said. “Missouri is a very tough place to play and they are an outstanding opponent. We have to play well and we have to carry this on and learn from our lessons.”

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