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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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Photo by Photo by Ryan Hartfiel

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Demond Demas played a key role in the Aggies 34-0 win over the University of New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 18. 

In Texas A&M’s 34-0 shutout win over the New Mexico Lobos, the Aggies employed what may be their most successful passing game seen in years.
Seven receivers combined for a total of 275 yards in the air, all from redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada. The Aggies averaged 14.5 yards per catch, and three different players recorded a receiving touchdown. In an even more impressive feat, underclassmen accounted for every score in the air.
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said though the receivers’ youth is promising, it still leaves room for improvement. The team’s passing yardage could have been far more impressive had the team’s 13 dropped targets been caught down the field, he said.
“When it comes to late routes, we’ve got to stay disciplined on doing them the right way,” Fisher said. “Those guys have the chance to be good players. They’re going to have to play for us.”
Redshirt freshman wide receiver and former 5-star recruit Demond Demas became the star of the show with just two receptions. The first, Demas’ first collegiate catch, was good for 70 yards and a touchdown. His other reception added on another 30 yards, pushing the Tomball native to an even average of 50 yards per completion.
Known for his own speed, junior star running back Isaiah Spiller said he was impressed with Demas’ ability to move. Spiller added if the redshirt freshman continues to improve, he may find himself as a permanent go-to for any quarterback who is at the helm.
“Demond is fast,” Spiller said. “Nobody’s going to run with him. I see Demond being a great player out here, so he’s going to have a bright future. I’m proud of him.”
The next closest in terms of offensive success was sophomore running back Devon Achane. The Orange Bowl MVP caught for 45 yards in the air on three catches, highlighted by a 26-yard completion from Calzada in the endzone. Achane tacked on another 29 yards on the ground on nine more carries.
The final passing touchdown of the matchup was caught by redshirt freshman wide receiver Moose Muhammad III on a 7-yard pass with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. Prior to the faceoff against the Lobos, Muhammad never recorded any positive offensive gains, making his 24 yards on three completions all the more prominent.
A&M has found the majority of its success in recent years off its ground game, forcing the running backs to carry much of the team’s weight when on offense. The improved passing game showcased against the Lobos, which saw nearly double the gains accumulated by the running backs, allowed A&M’s rushing corps to actually perform better itself, Spiller said.
“[Success in the air] takes a lot of pressure off of us,” Spiller said. “It gives us a downfield threat, which makes the defense worry about us over the top, so then we run it. It just opens up big holes for us. [The receivers] did a great job today.”
Though they didn’t personally contribute to the numbers on the scoreboard, four other Aggies were given focus from Calzada in the passing game. Sophomore wide receiver Chase Lane clocked 44 yards on four receptions, while junior wide receiver Ainias Smith and sophomore wide receiver Devin Price added another 16 and 7 yards, respectively. Junior tight end Jalen Wydermyer, still just one receiving touchdown away from entering A&M’s all-time top-10 in this statistic, averaged another 9.8 yards per reception for a total of 39.
The ability for A&M to rotate throughout numerous receivers allows the maroon and white offense to outperform opposing defenses on the field, Fisher said. This is accomplished by switching play calls depending on the receivers most recently substituted into the game.
“We’re going to keep using [our various receivers] and playing them,” Fisher said. “The best players are going to play. I pray to God we [see more breakout performances]. That means good things are happening. That’ll be the idea, I promise you.”
The one hiccup for the team’s receivers came when Smith was forced to leave the game with an undisclosed injury, as first reported by ESPN. Fisher confirmed in the post-game press conference that Smith’s injury is minimal, likely allowing the receiver to return to practice on Monday without any issues.
The receiving corps will next have the opportunity to build upon its success thus far when the Aggies travel to Arlington to play the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Fisher said his tight ends and wide receivers have the ability to put up solid numbers against the Razorbacks. However, this will require a week of intense training focused on minimizing the “sloppy mistakes” seen against New Mexico, he said.
“We just have to execute it,” Fisher said. “We have to do a better job of coaching, executing and playing.”

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