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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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Head+Coach+Mike+Elko+gives+a+thumbs+up+to+the+fans+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+Spring+Game+on+Saturday%2C+April+20%2C+2024%2C+at+Kyle+Field.+%28CJ+Smith%2FThe+Battalion%29
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“Shape of you” by Ed Sheeran.

The last time Texas A&M football brought a new coach to the helm, this was the top song of the year. Now, almost seven years later, a new era has begun in Aggieland, as Mike Elko has returned to lead the Aggies after the departure of Jimbo Fisher.

Before the Maroon and White kickoff the season against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Aggie fans got their first look at Elko’s squad in the 2024 Maroon & White game.

Prior to the game, sophomore linebacker Taurean York and junior offensive lineman Trey Zuhn were selected as captains for the White and Maroon team respectively, holding a draft to select teams.

In the first quarter, the name of the game was defense.

Outside of a drive for the White team that ended in a 42-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Ethan Moczulski, four of the seven combined drives ended in a three-and-out.

York led all players with five tackles in the first quarter, while junior Florida transfer linebacker Scooby Williams was right behind him with four.

Right before the end of the first, however, junior Maroon team running back Le’Veon Moss ripped off the longest play of the day so far, breaking through the gap on the left side for a 27-yard gain.

The Maroon team kept the ball on the ground, rushing three more times for 21 yards before Moss punched it in from the 5-yard line for the first touchdown of the afternoon.

The defensive theme continued late into the second quarter as well, with no team managing to pull away until right before half. Sophomore quarterback Marcel Reed — who saw his first action last year after taking over early in the Texas Bowl — led the Maroon team down the field on an 11-play drive in the waning seconds of the first half.

The Nashville, Tennessee native threw for 72 yards on the drive alone, capping it off with a short 1-yard pass to junior wide receiver Noah Thomas for the Maroon team’s second touchdown of the game, pushing the score to 14-3.

“[Thomas] has tremendous size, he has a very large catch radius, I think he’s gotten healthy,” Elko said. “He had some offseason stuff that he was dealing with towards the end of the year last year … I think it’s going to be really important for him to have a really strong summer. I think if he can develop some strength and get his body where it could possibly be, he has all the makings of a guy we can use as a top target.”

Sophomore White team QB Conner Weigman, the presumed starter for the Aggies next season, struggled in the half, only going 3-9 for 35 yards.

Defensively, touted junior Purdue transfer defensive lineman Nic Scourton terrorized the White team, racking up three tackles, two for loss, with a sack. The Bryan native led the Big Ten last season in sacks with 10.

“I think when we line up Nic Scourton on one side and Shemar Stewart on the other, I think we have the best defensive end combo that we’ve had here in a long time,” Elko said.

At the half, it was all Maroon team, as they outpaced the White team 179-69 in total yards to take an 11-point advantage to the locker room.

The Maroon team got right back to it to start the half. After the defense forced another sack on Weigman, the offense took over with junior QB Jaylen Henderson at the helm, who took over last season after Max Johnson’s injury, going 2-1 as a starter.

On third and 11, Henderson rolled out to his left and threw the ball deep to Thomas, who adjusted in air to reach back and grab the pass for a 43-yard gain. To cap off the drive, Thomas made yet another acrobatic grab, leaping for a pass in the corner of the endzone for the Maroon team’s third touchdown and Thomas’ second of the day.

The rain then began to drizzle into Kyle Field, and fans began to rush to the covered awnings. With the bad weather came a running clock and more defensive stands from both teams.

Neither team managed to score in the second half until the middle of the fourth quarter, when the Maroon team tacked on 3 points to its lead with senior K Randy Bond’s first field goal of the day.

Finally, with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the White team reached paydirt, as sophomore RB Reuben Owens broke through the left side, outracing the Maroon team defenders for a 61-yard run, the final score of the game. Owens’ run alone accounted for almost half of the White team’s total yardage.

With 364 total yards, the Maroon team dominated, winning 24-10. Henderson and Reed accounted for 184 yards through the air and two touchdowns, while Moss went for 69 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

“We didn’t talk about this earlier in the week, but I was the head coach of the Maroon team,” Elko said. “So we’ll take that as a win, and we’ll go 1-0 on my official record here at Texas A&M.”

Defensively Scourton continued his impressive performance in the second half, finishing the day with five tackles, three-and-a-half for loss with two-and-a-half sacks for the Maroon team.

“I feel like in the weight room, in the training, I feel more explosive, I feel more violent,” Scourton said. “Coach Tony and coach Spencer are very in touch with the details.”

The Aggies will begin their season on Saturday, Aug. 31 as they host Notre Dame.

 

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About the Contributor
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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