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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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Commentary: Missed opportunities

Freshman+WR+Evan+Stewart+%281%29+catches+a+23+yard+pass+from+sophomore+QB+Haynes+King+%2813%29+during+a+game+against+the+Alabama+Crimson+Tide+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+8%2C+2022%2C+at+Bryant-Denny+Stadium+in+Tuscaloosa%2C+Alabama.
Ishika Samant

Freshman WR Evan Stewart (1) catches a 23 yard pass from sophomore QB Haynes King (13) during a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Despite all the mistakes, Texas A&M had an opportunity to win a game gifted to them by Alabama. It all came down to one play at the 2-yard line with three seconds left in the game.
The play seemed like a microcosm for the game and the 2022 season itself. Coach Jimbo Fisher calls a weird play, followed by a not-great throw from sophomore starter Haynes King that fell incomplete to freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart. The quick throw was undoubtedly forced by consistently terrible play by A&M’s entire offensive line. Alabama 24, A&M 20.
In a game plagued by terrible offense from both teams, the Crimson Tide’s ability to run the ball on first and second down with junior transfer running back Jahmyr Gibbs won them the game. It’s not like they could consistently throw the ball.
It should be said, the Aggies’ defense was great and forced Alabama into uncharacteristic miscues. The defensive front just couldn’t find a way to win at the line of scrimmage without blitzing against the Crimson Tide’s stout offensive line during run or pass plays.
Alabama backup freshman starting quarterback Jalen Milroe, while undoubtedly talented and probably a future Heisman trophy winner, looked inexperienced throughout the game and committed two of the team’s four turnovers. It could have been worse for Milroe, if not for a pair of dropped interceptions by A&M’s secondary, one of which led to the game-deciding touchdown for Alabama. Alabama’s supposed ace senior kicker Will Reichard also missed a pair of makeable field goals. The point is, A&M had a great chance to win the game.
However, questionable coaching decisions from Fisher and overall bad offensive play led to A&M’s demise.
First off, the play calling from Fisher wasn’t great, and it will surely not quiet the hope for the hiring of a new offensive coordinator. Fisher was unable to get junior running back Devon Achane the ball in space aside from one 15-yard run. A&M’s passing plays failed due to inaccurate throws from King and bad pass blocking from A&M’s offensive line. King was routinely having to run for his life and throw the ball away because it got to a point where Alabama was blitzing every down in the fourth quarter. One would have to do a lot of thinking to decide which was worse in the game: A&M’s pass or run blocking.
A&M’s offense did a great job of scoring off Alabama turnovers, but this was out of necessity because the unit seemed incapable of putting together a complete drive on its own.
On the bright side, A&M’s wide receivers found success throughout the game. Freshman receiver Evan Stewart looked like a future star with an eight-catch and 106-yard statline. Stewart’s night was highlighted by an incredible catch over two Alabama defenders on A&M’s final drive. Sophomore receiver Moose Muhammed III followed suit with six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
King, while playing average at best, did show a lot of heart and took a number of big hits from Alabama’s defensive line. He looked to be battling an injury throughout the final drive, but he did lead A&M to within 2 yards of knocking off the No. 1 team in the country.
Looking forward, the maroon and white are just as talented top to bottom as the Crimson Tide. The issue in Saturday’s game was that a lot of the talent are freshmen and sophomores. The hope is the players will continue to improve as the Aggies continue to eye a berth in the College Football Playoff.
A&M needs to find a long-term solution at quarterback because King doesn’t look the part, and it’s not like Johnson set the world on fire when he played. Sitting in the wings is five-star freshman quarterback Connor Weigman. Why not start him for the remainder of the season? Redshirting Weigman doesn’t make any sense because if he’s really good he’s going to leave after his third season, whether he’s a redshirt sophomore or a junior. Seriously, really the only thing left for this season is whether or not A&M will qualify for a bowl game, and who cares?
The rest of the season should be looked at as a dress rehearsal for next year. Fisher should also think about pulling a Nathaniel Hackett and hiring someone to help him out with time management. It’s almost comical at this point how bad Fisher is with timeouts.
All in all, Saturday’s game was the perfect A&M football fan experience. A lot of hope followed by the inevitable letdown.

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About the Contributor
Ishika Samant
Ishika Samant, Former Photo Chief
Ishika Samant served multiple roles at The Battalion as photo chief, managing editor, multimedia editor and social media editor through her tenure from 2021 to 2024.
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