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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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A&M offense looking to get back on track against vulnerable Ole Miss defense

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Photo by FILE

Texas A&M’s offense will play Ole Miss’ defense during the football game between the Rebels and the Aggies.

Despite the win against Auburn, Texas A&M’s offense struggled to finish drives and get into the endzone.
That should not be as big an issue against an Ole Miss defense that gives up many yards and points. The Rebels allow the third-most yards per game in the Southeastern Conference at 431 and allow 27 points per game.
Junior wide receiver Ainias Smith said the struggles with capping off drives against the Tigers ultimately came down to play execution, and that the offense simply needs to do better in those situations.
“I would say we just have to execute,” Smith said. “It all comes down to a mental thing. It’s really about how if you want to win, if you want to succeed as bad[ly] as you say you do, then you [have] got to go out there perform and execute.”
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said his offense will have to deal with a keen Ole Miss defense with the ability to frustrate opponents and induce mistakes with a complex defensive scheme. The unit will also have to deal with a very talented pass rusher in senior defensive lineman Sam Williams, who leads the SEC in sacks with 11.
“Pressures, different blitzes, 3-3 personnel, 3-4 personnel, different fronts, different coverages; it’s a different setup defensively,” Fisher said. “You really [have] got to study and examine how they do it and what they do. They’ve got 17 turnovers total, seven interceptions and recovered 10 fumbles, but forced 23. I mean, they’re getting their hands on the ball and being very opportunistic.”
A&M’s offensive line will yet again be an important part of the game plan, as the run game progresses on Saturday against Ole Miss’ second-worst SEC rushing defense. Junior offensive lineman Kenyon Green said the group has grown well since its early season struggles.
“I felt like everybody just took a step in the right direction,” Green said. “You know, at first it was a little shaky, but we just kept working and kept preparing and the results were showing, everybody’s buying in.”
Fisher said this matchup is significant because of the night game environment at Ole Miss. The Aggies as a whole will have to be locked in and prepared to deal with a hostile crowd. A&M has only played one true road game this season at Missouri.
“We’re getting better, and we better [continue to], because we play a heck of a team on Saturday,” Fisher said. “Ole Miss, playing up there, it’s tough. That night game’s tough. Lane [Kiffin] does a good job coaching them. They’ll be ready to play.”
Perhaps an unnoticed positive that came out of the offense’s performance against Auburn was that redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada gained his teammate’s trust and admiration even more after returning from a shoulder injury. Fisher said the team recognizes that competitiveness, and it inspires them to play even better.
“Zach [Calzada is one] tough son of a gun,” Fisher said. “I tell you what, the team responds to that. They love it. And that’s the way that your leader of your team’s got to be, the guy taking those snaps. When he does that, it’s tough. And they played really well when he got back in there.”
Green also said seeing Calzada’s fight and determination inspires, and that it makes Green proud to be someone tasked with protecting him.
“I feel like, you know, just him doing that, just him, just being focused into the game like he is, you know, just brings me great joy knowing I have a quarterback that loves the game like that,” Green said. “You know, he’s putting his body on the line to win.”
A&M and Ole Miss kick off their 12th matchup at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on ESPN. The Aggies have won the last three meetings and lead the series 8-3.

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