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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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Petrino’s “feed the studs” ideology pays dividends versus New Mexico

Photo by Photo by Kyle Heise

Sophomore WR Noah Thomas (3) celebrates with sophomore WR Evan Stewart (1) and junior WR Moose Muhammad III (7) after scoring his first of three touchdowns during a game vs. New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.

In the newly hired offensive coordinator’s preseason press conference, Bobby Petrino discussed the offensive philosophy he would bring in calling plays for the Texas A&M football team.
“Feed the studs.”
This ideology centers around putting the ball in the hands of the team’s top playmakers and playing to their strengths and abilities. Under “feed the studs,” playcalling is intentional and dependent on the game’s current scenario.
“The quarterbacks and the coaches need to understand, ‘How do we get the ball to our best guys?’” Petrino said. “I’ve never called a play just because, ‘Oh, this is a fancy play, let’s call it.’ I call a play to get the ball to [sophomore wide receiver] Noah [Thomas], or [graduate wide receiver] Ainias [Smith], or [sophomore wide receiver] Evan [Stewart] or [junior wide receiver] Moose [Muhammad III].”
After A&M’s season-opening 52-10 victory over New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 2, it’s safe to say the strategy is paying off.
With 236 yards on 18 completions, sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman made history as the first A&M signal-caller to pass for five touchdowns in the first game of a season. Three wideouts reeled in touchdowns while the Aggies didn’t shy away from the deep ball as Petrino’s offensive mentality made No. 23 A&M look the part of a Top 25 team.
For many, Petrino’s playcalling must have felt like a breath of fresh air after coach Jimbo Fisher’s proved to be ineffective last season. In the pass-heavy world of contemporary college football offenses, Fisher’s run-first offensive mentality looked outdated as the Maroon and White were unable to develop a consistent offensive presence, even with star running back Devon Achane.
Forget any talk about Fisher and Petrino butting heads over the coaching of the team. With how the Aggies looked against the Lobos, this head coach looks awfully smart for handing over the reins of the offense to the 62-year-old Petrino.
“It was great,” Fisher said. “We were talking back and forth, sharing ideas, what we could go to, what we could not, giving suggestions, what we think we can see down there. Reminding [each other] of things we do in the game plan. Just like we do in the meeting. It was excellent. [We] had fun, a lot of fun.”
The 12th Man caught a glimpse of Weigman in four starts last year, culminating in a 38-23 upset of No. 6 LSU where he passed for 155 yards and two scores. On Saturday, he picked up right where he left off with strong chemistry between himself and his receivers.
“Ever since spring ball, fall camp, every time we went out and threw routes in the summer, all those guys, they all go out and work for me,” Weigman said. “I try to give them the ball and let them go make plays.”
Following a freshman campaign in which he reeled in just five passes for 51 yards, Thomas showed fans why he earned raves from Fisher in the offseason. The Pearland native caught all six targets en route to 74 yards and three touchdowns in front of a lively Kyle Field crowd.
“We came in with a chip on our shoulder to prove to people that we’re capable of leading this offense,” Thomas said. “We just love, trust and believe in each other, coaches, players, and we made it happen.”
To complement Thomas, Stewart displayed his five-star talent with eight catches for 115 yards and two scores. It didn’t matter that Smith and Muhammad combined for only six receptions and 52 yards, as Thomas and Stewart exhibited the quality depth of the Aggies’ receiving corps while providing a potential preview of the next two years of A&M’s offense.
Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have options. Smith and Muhammad, who added a touchdown of his own, are sure to play a major role in the Aggies’ offense this year, particularly under the eye of Petrino. Fans also got a look at junior wide receiver and Grand Valley State transfer Jahdae Walker with three catches for 31 yards.
“That’s what I’ve been saying in those scrimmages and the practices,” Fisher said. “We’ve been playing really well. They’ve been very efficient. Whether it’s underneath routes, over-the-top routes, making contested catches [or] running moves, they’re a talented group of guys.”
Weigman and his receivers certainly looked comfortable with the deep ball with six completions of 15 yards or more. Even when they couldn’t connect, the one-on-one matchups allowed the possibility of pass interference penalties, of which the Aggies saw four.
The fun didn’t stop with the passing attack. Petrino incorporated the run game, too, with a trio of backs tallying six or more carries. Junior Amari Daniels led the way with seven rushes for 51 yards, while freshman Rueben Owens and sophomore Le’Veon Moss racked up at least 25 yards. Moss barreled into the end zone from two yards out in a 28-point first quarter.
Let’s not forget about graduate Colorado State transfer David Bailey Jr. and his 20 yards on four carries. The four backs showed an ability to make big plays as well with gains of over 10 yards each. Sure, the numbers may not be eye-popping, but this diverse stable of running backs brings its own set of strengths, from speed to physicality.
“All four of them, they come in, they run the ball hard, they block hard,” Weigman said. “They’re doing their job every play … I can’t say enough about those guys. They worked really hard tonight.”
It may have only been the first game of the season, but Petrino and the A&M offense made a strong first impression precisely when it needed to do so. A bigger challenge presents itself next week in Miami, but this performance gives fans plenty to be excited about.
The Aggies may only go as far as their offense takes them, as was the case last season. If that’s true, then A&M could have a memorable season in store.

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a senior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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