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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggie football is back and in style: 4 takeaways from A&M-New Mexico

Photo by Ishika Samant

Sophomore WR Evan Stewart (1) and sophomore WR Noah Thomas (3) celebrate after a 35-yard score during a game vs. New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023 at Kyle Field.

Aggie football is back, and it’s new and improved. Coming off a forgettable 5-7 season, No. 23 Texas A&M welcomed the New Mexico Lobos to Kyle Field and left them with a 52-10 beatdown. Backed by a new-look offense and an improved defense, here are four takeaways.
New look offense is strong, fast and a breath of fresh air
The shotcalling from new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino has breathed life into a team that was stale offensively last season. With a new starting quarterback in sophomore Conner Weigman, the Maroon and White scored on their first five drives. Petrino’s philosophy of “feeding the studs” was in full effect, as sophomore wide receivers Evan Stewart and Noah Thomas made life easier for Weigman. From this opening game, Thomas broke his receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns from last season. He hauled in six catches for 74 yards and three touchdowns. Stewart showed off why he was named to the Preseason Coaches All-SEC team, leading all receivers with eight receptions for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The offensive line, led by the healthy sophomore center Bryce Foster was key for the air raid, as Weigman was sacked just once against the constantly-blitzing Lobos. Protecting the pocket and creating deep looks was a nice change of scenery, and Jimbo Fisher noticed.
“We had time to throw the football,” Fisher said. “The maturity upfront has shown. [Weigman] had a clean pocket where he could step up and make the throws. We had clean pockets where we could step up and throw the football, which allows you to get the ball down the field.”
Penalties, penalties, penalties
Both teams shot themselves in the foot with penalties, with New Mexico leading the way in the first half and A&M following suit in the second. The Lobos’ defense opened up the game with four penalties in the first quarter that gave the Aggies 46-free yards and a score. On the other side, the Maroon and White started the third quarter with a slew of penalties that contributed to a Lobos’ field goal. Though the A&M defense held New Mexico to only 10 points, Fisher said that he was disappointed in the opening of the second half, especially on penalties.
“We played the run especially well and got some pressure on the quarterback,” Fisher said. “Second half, I was disappointed in the way we started the half. Coming out, getting the wrong guy [and] getting too many guys on the field. [The players] were confused on who was going in and getting a penalty like that gets you started bad and then we have two or three personal fouls, pushing and hitting. There’s no excuse for those.”
Tale of two offenses
The battle of time-of-possessions was won easily by the Cherry and Silver. The first drive alone was the start of a slow-grind offense that made the Aggie defense work. New Mexico’s average possession time of 3:04 was almost a full minute longer than A&M’s 2:19. The Lobos had three possessions where they had the ball longer than four minutes and it resulted in a touchdown and a field goal. Overall, the New Mexico offense chewed the clock, keeping the ball for more than half of the game. However, it only resulted in 10 points. Offense was a different tale for the Fightin’ Farmers, as the Maroon and White scored on possessions within two and three minutes and kept their foot on the gas, with short drives that resulted in deep throws and touchdowns.
New defensive players set the tone
Though the Aggies lost many cornerbacks from last year such as Denver Harris and Smoke Bouie, graduate Boston College transfer defensive back Josh DeBerry made an immediate impact in his debut. He led the team in total tackles, solo tackles and came away with both a sack and an interception. Right behind him was junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper, contributing with eight total tackles. Cooper said DeBerry’s play kept the energy going for the defense.
“I wasn’t surprised, but to see a person helping out our program and be able to make an impact like that was pretty surprising,” Cooper said. “He kept the energy for us. Seeing him making those plays kept the energy for the defense going.”

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