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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M offense summits

Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson

Freshman WR Chris Marshall (10) jumps over Sam Houston’s Quan Williams (38) at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022

A week after putting forth an offensive performance deemed underwhelming by many, the Texas A&M football team will get a chance to showcase its scoring ability against an Appalachian State defense that’s also looking to prove doubters wrong. 

The Aggies will take on the Mountaineers at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 10 in a 2:30 p.m. contest. The maroon and white opened the 2022 season with a 31-0 victory over Sam Houston State last week, while Appalachian State lost a 63-61 thriller to North Carolina. The Mountaineers scored 40 points in the fourth quarter alone, but failed to convert on a game-tying 2-point conversion with eight seconds left.

While a shutout win is all well and good, many fans were left disappointed by the mere 31 points put up by the A&M offense on Saturday. It came as a surprise to many that junior running back Devon Achane, who doubles as a track athlete and is one of the fastest players in college football, rushed for only 42 yards on 18 carries with a 1-yard touchdown run. 

“[We] didn’t get Achane going,” Fisher said after Saturday’s game. “[It’s] not his fault. What we didn’t get was some blocking, [we need to] do a little bit better up front [on the offensive line.]”

The 12th Man anxiously anticipated the return of sophomore quarterback Haynes King, who went down with a season-ending injury in the second game last season. The signal-caller had a productive performance, throwing for 364 yards and three touchdowns while showing off his playmaking ability by rushing for 35 yards on six carries. However, King also threw two interceptions, giving him five total picks across his two full games as a starter, dating back to last season.

“Haynes [King] made good plays and read some really nice reads and made two really good throws in that [he] hit two long touchdown throws,” Fisher said. “We had a pick, [we] didn’t need that. But other than that, [he] used his legs well, made some good runs. [He] got us in the right place.”

One bright spot for A&M against the Bearkats was its wide receivers. Senior wideout Ainias Smith picked up right where he left off last season, reeling in six catches for 164 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Freshmen wide receivers Evan Stewart and Chris Marshall each played well, amassing 98 total yards on nine catches. 

“I thought they played pretty well,” Smith said. “Coming in as freshmen, they had the little jitters walking out of the tunnel, but it seemed like all of that went away as soon as the game started. I was excited for them, very happy for them. [They] came out, and they didn’t play like no freshmen. They played well.”

Additionally, the Aggies have valuable options at the wide receiver position in senior Jalen Preston and sophomores Yulkeith Brown and Moose Muhammad III. Brown reeled in a 66-yard touchdown pass from King in the season-opener, while Preston and Muhammad had six total scores last season.

With proven playmakers in the rushing and receiving areas of the game, A&M certainly has the pieces for a productive offense this season, but as the most recent game showed, it’s not a guarantee that this will translate to points on the scoreboard. Therefore, it’s important that the team builds chemistry and meshes together to create a cohesive unit. 

Unlike the smooth victory picked up by the Aggies, the Mountaineers dropped arguably the most exciting game of college football’s Week 1 slate. Appalachian State flexed its offensive muscles on the Tar Heels but struggled to keep them out of the end zone as well, giving up eight touchdowns and 567 yards of total offense. 

Appalachian State redshirt junior inside linebacker Andrew Parker and junior defensive back Nick Ross paced the team with eight and six total tackles, respectively. Redshirt junior outside linebacker Nick Hampton had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble, while redshirt sophomore defensive back Jackson Greene also forced a fumble.

Last season, Appalachian State gave up an average of 22.1 points per game en route to a 10-4 record and an appearance in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. While this past Saturday wasn’t their defense’s best showing, the Mountaineers have historically been efficient at keeping opposing offenses limited.

 “They have great playmakers and an exceptional offense and defense,” Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark said. “Schematically, they give you a lot of tough situations on offense and defense. We have our work cut out for us, but our guys are excited to go down there to College Station. If you haven’t been there before, it’s a great place to play a college football game.”

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