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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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A&M offense to slow turnovers, improve run against Colorado defense

Photo by FILE

Sophomore running back Devon Achane has proven his ability to make a significant impact on the Aggie offense with two touchdowns in the Sept. 4 game against Kent State. 

Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Haynes King, the Texas A&M offense scored 41 points on Kent State in a near-600 total yard performance. The unit did have turnover issues in its first game action, with five, but also went 9-13 on third-down conversions.
True freshman Bryce Foster started at center for A&M and was one of four new offensive linemen part of a 300-yard output on the ground against Kent State. Redshirt freshman Aki Ogunbiyi, sophomore Layden Robinson and Tennessee graduate transfer Jahmir Johnson also made their starting debuts.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said the group did a solid job in their first game together, and Foster did a particularly great job identifying things as center against a defense that brought plenty of different fronts and stunts to try and disrupt King and Foster’s connection.
“For the most part, a young offensive line did a good job against a [defense] that brought multiple blitzes, looks and things,” Fisher said. “[We] ended up starting a true freshman center that made all the calls, and I thought [he] did an outstanding job for the first game to go out and do that.”
Sophomore running back Devon Achane led the team in rushing with a dozen carries for 124 yards and two scores. He said he expected the offensive line to be great in their first action together because he’s seen how hard they have worked since the spring.
“The offensive line has been working hard, so I wasn’t expecting [anything] but what I’ve seen in practice,” Achane said. “It’s a new group, but they [bonded], so I just came into the game expecting them to do great, and that’s what they did.”
Starting junior running back Isaiah Spiller crossed the 100-yard mark in week one with 113 yards on 17 runs behind the young line. Achane said he and Spiller get along great and always talk with each other on the sidelines after drives about what to do differently, what they see from the opposing defense and more.
“We’re always with each other,” Achane said. “We’re always communicating with each other and helping with our runs, pass-blocking and stuff like that.”
The only bad part of the offense’s season-opening display at Kyle Field was the five turnovers, which held the Aggies to just a 10-3 halftime lead over the Golden Flashes before the home team scored 31 points in the second half. Fisher said the offense has to get those cleaned up before going on the road against a Power-5 team in Colorado. King threw three interceptions, with a fourth added by redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada during his limited playing time, and the running corps lost a fumble.
“What we have to continue to do is play really well around our quarterback and not put him in bad situations,” Fisher said. “Offensively, we obviously moved the ball extremely well up and down the field; [they] were really good on third downs. The only [bad] thing was the turnovers.”
Fisher said the Aggies will need to have a great week of practice before going to a hostile environment on the road. The Buffaloes got off to a 1-0 start on their season with a 35-7 home win over Northern Colorado on Friday, Sept. 3.
“[We’re] going to a very good Colorado team that’s coached very well by guys that have been in the pro bowl. They know how to break down protection, runs and defenses,” Fisher said. “These guys are very intelligent and they’ve got a very good team.”
Junior tight end Jalen Wydermyer said the maroon and white’s offense will first aim to establish their quick ground game against Colorado, but hopes to see the passing game get going with some deep shots to junior receiver Caleb Chapman and sophomore receiver Chase Lane. Lane, Chapman and Wydermyer combined for 11 catches and 168 yards against Kent State.
“I’d like to get the passing game going with some more deep shots, but we have to establish the run first,” Wydermyer said. “That would bring the linebackers and safeties up because they’re too worried about Isaiah, Ainias [Smith] or Achane.”
In their win last Friday, the Colorado defense gave up 256 total yards, but only 20 were on the ground. A&M’s offensive line can impose its will over the Buffaloes’ young defensive line as it did with Kent State, but it will have to establish the run early so the air game can flourish, as Colorado outgained Northern Colorado in passing, 236-102.
Senior linebacker Nate Landman led the Buffaloes in tackles in their win over the Bears with four, and sophomore defensive tackle Na’im Rodman had a sack with his three tackles. Their defense also recorded an interception by junior cornerback Mekhi Blackmon.
A key to A&M’s success on Saturday afternoon will be determining if the A&M offensive line can block well and clear Rodman and Landman to get Spiller and Achane open space in the second and third levels of Colorado’s defense. Doing so will allow Wydermyer and Smith to draw less attention so King can have more open passing windows.

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