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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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Aggies welcome ACU to Kyle Field for the first game without Jimbo Fisher

Photo by: Julianne Shivers

Junior LB Edgerrin Cooper (45) side tackles Freshman QB Chris Parson (16) at Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Julianne Shivers/ The Battalion)

This Saturday, as the Aggie Intro plays and the fireworks shoot off, it won’t be Jimbo Fisher who runs Texas A&M out of the tunnel. Rather, it will be interim head coach Elijah Robinson and the Aggies who are set for their first game without Fisher in six years.
The news came Sunday morning that the Maroon and White were moving on from Fisher after the Aggies annihilated Mississippi State 51-10 in front of over 103,000 at Kyle Field.
Coming into College Station on Saturday is Abilene Christian, who will be playing its final game of the season with a 5-5 record. Talent-wise, the gap is large between the Aggies and Wildcats, with ACU playing in the FCS ranks. The result on the field is predictable, however the way that result is reached is in question.
With Robinson at the helm, things are likely to change with the Aggies’ play on the field. It is uncertain how much Fisher let offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino call plays on his own, but that could be answered if the offense looks different than it has all season.
The offense already looked new and improved last weekend against the Bulldogs, as the Maroon and White were forced to make a switch at quarterback with redshirt sophomore Max Johnson being unavailable. Fresno State transfer sophomore quarterback Jaylen Henderson got his first start for the Aggies against MSU.
However, if someone did not know Henderson was in his first start, they might have thought he was a veteran given his quick decisions on throwing the ball and fast pace on the field. Henderson accounted for four touchdowns in the game, splitting them evenly between passing and rushing scores.
This week, it is still uncertain who will be the starter at quarterback for the Aggies.
“Coach Petrino has a great resume, and I trust and believe in him and everything he decides to do moving forward with the offense whether Max [Johnson] is available or not or Jaylen [Henderson] is available or not,” Robinson said. “I trust him to do the right thing for these players and for this program to make sure that we are in the best situation to win.”
When given a new leader, preparation for the games are likely to be different as well. Robinson alluded to that, while emphasizing that the players are of the most importance.
“We’re going to do things that’s going to allow those guys to have fun, play with juice and energy and understand that it’s going to be okay,” Robinson said. “Whatever that is, as a staff we’re going to come together to make sure that we make the adjustments that need to happen for those guys to enjoy this next few weeks and to play as well as possible.”
Some Aggie fans may worry that the buy-in from the players will not be as strong now that their head coach is no longer with them. Given the brotherhood the players have with one another, Robinson suggested that wasn’t something he’s worried about.
“We have a unique group of guys, and we have a great leadership crew,” Robinson said. “Those guys will get them riled up, they’ll get them ready to go, and we’ll prepare the same then we’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
As far as the Wildcats are concerned, it’s uncertain how their players will stack up against power-five competition with this weekend’s game being their first of such. ACU junior quarterback Maverick McIvor needs 177 yards passing to eclipse the 2,000 mark.
McIvor also has shown the ability to take care of the football, throwing just five interceptions this season, however there is no doubt he is up against the toughest defense he has faced all season with the Aggies ranked No. 12 in FBS in total defense.
Overall, it will be a major mismatch this weekend. ACU ranks No. 72 in FCS in total offense and No. 115 in total defense. Those rankings are alarming for a team coming into a hostile environment with the second best total defense in the SEC and an offense ranked No. 52 in FBS.
Regardless of the gap in talent, the Maroon and White faithful will want to pay close attention to the way the team is run by Robinson. He has been asked about being a contender for the full-time job. Athletic director Ross Bjork said that everyone is being considered.
“Right now, everybody is a candidate,” Bjork said at his press conference on Sunday when he addressed the media over Fisher’s firing.
If Robinson can lead the Aggies to a 3-0 finish that includes a win in Baton Rouge and a victory in the bowl game, he may make a case for that job. However, that all starts this weekend at 11 a.m. when the Aggies look to avoid being scratched by the Cats.

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