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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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Fisher not underestimating Kent State despite dominant offense

Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+offensive+line+will+look+to+capitalize+on+their+dominant+2020+season+in+the+first+game+against+Kent+State+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+4+at+Kyle+Field+at+7+p.m.%26%23160%3B
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Texas A&M’s offensive line will look to capitalize on its dominant 2020 season in the first game against Kent State on Saturday, Sept. 4 at Kyle Field at 7 p.m. 

Texas A&M is set to face off against Kent State on Saturday, Sept. 4 in the 2021 season opener, where the Aggies will get a chance to show fans how their offense improved during Fall Camp. 

The A&M offense will have to eye the Golden Flashes’s ability to tackle for loss. In their four games, they managed 25 tackles for loss, for a total lossage of 98 yards. This averages out to 6.25 tackles for loss per game played. In the 2020 season, the Aggies averaged 5.33 tackles for loss per game played.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said the Golden Flashes will pose a challenge when it comes to their defense.

“We’ve got a great opponent,” Fisher said. “Kent State was marvelous last year with what they did … Their defense has been outstanding. They’ve got a really good group of guys, they got some transfers in and a guy in from Syracuse.”

The Syracuse transfer Jimbo referred to is senior linebacker Juan Wallace, who tallied seven special teams tackles before transferring to Kent State.

However, they only managed to stop the opposing team from scoring in the red zone once in those games.

Last season, A&M scored a touchdown 31 times out of the 47 red zone drives when scoring.

The biggest change to the offense for the Aggies will be the adjustment of redshirt freshman Haynes King stepping into former quarterback Kellen Mond’s role.

Junior running back Isaiah Spiller said the newly appointed quarterback has the right attitude to take over the starting role.

“He has the right mentality for a starting quarterback,” Spiller said. “He wants to gather the guys together, and he wants to put his best foot forward. He’s very focused, and he comes from a football family, so he knows what he’s getting into.”

Spiller is one of the most explosive offensive components for the Aggies and was named to the 2021 Maxwell Award Preseason Watchlist. Another running back who is a key to the Aggies’ offense is sophomore Devon Achane, who was named Orange Bowl MVP earlier this year in January.

Unique to Kent State, the team’s tackle leader is actually a safety, junior Dean Clark. In the 2020 season, Clark recorded 19 solo tackles and 28 total. This makes the Golden Flashes especially weak when defending the run game, as a safety should be the last person on the field to make a tackle.

As for defensive totals, the Golden Flashes had 162 solo tackles and 86 assisted tackles, for 248 overall. Of those, 25 were for loss, and Kent State also posted three interceptions.

The Golden Flashes’s tackle-oriented defense will face their biggest threat against junior dual-threat wide receiver, and running back Ainias Smith is one of the most versatile players on the A&M offense. Smith has recorded over 300 rushing yards and more than 800 receiving yards. Additionally, Smith is also utilized on special teams for punt returns.

The offense’s performance against Kent State will set a precedent for the rest of the season, hopefully ending at the National Championship game, Smith said.
“We haven’t really thought about last season and how we started it off,” Smith said. “I do look at this game as a tone-setter game because we’re coming out with the intention of winning a National Championship, and all our opponents are faceless. Every rep is a championship rep.”

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