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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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One step away
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So close, yet so far

Junior+LB+Edgerrin+Cooper+%2845%29+tackles+LSU+QB+Jayden+Daniels+%285%29+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+LSU+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+25%2C+2023+at+Tiger+Stadium+%28Katelynn+Ivy%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Photo by Katelynn Ivy

Junior LB Edgerrin Cooper (45) tackles LSU QB Jayden Daniels (5) during Texas A&M’s game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 at Tiger Stadium (Katelynn Ivy/The Battalion)

Through three quarters, Texas A&M held a slim lead and looked like it was on its way to an upset victory over the LSU Tigers.
However, the game of football is 60 minutes, and the final 15 belonged to LSU senior quarterback Jayden Daniels.
To combat the No. 1 offense in the country, interim head coach Elijah Robinson and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino’s plan was to deploy an offense that played keep-away from Daniels with long drives and a going-for-it mentality on fourth downs throughout the game.
“Our job was to sustain drives,” Robinson said. “I thought our offense did a good job at that. We wanted to make sure we were good on third-downs and we had some fourth-down opportunities to go for it [and] our guys went for it, we wanted to play aggressive. I thought Bobby called a really good game and we were successful on some of those third and fourth-downs.”
After forcing an LSU punt on its first offensive drive, sophomore quarterback Jaylen Henderson made his presence known right away, throwing to graduate wide receiver Ainias Smith and picking up yards on the ground to set up a fourth-and-2 situation.
True to his word, Robinson came out aggressive, going for it and had a wide-open look for graduate tight end Max Wright but the pass was dropped.
Then, Daniels came alive. He showcased his dual-threat ability with a first-down pass to his No. 1 target, junior wide receiver Malik Nabers and ran for 21 yards for another first down to set up a short touchdown run for junior running back Logan Diggs.
In response, Robinson coached the Maroon and White to its first long drive of the game. Headlined by short runs from running backs sophomore Le’Veon Moss, junior Amari Daniels and Henderson, as well as short passes to Smith and sophomore tight end Jake Johnson, A&M closed out the first quarter with a 7-minute drive.
Picking up right where he left off, Henderson converted a third-and-11 with a pass to graduate running back David Bailey for a 16-yard pickup. Then, the Maroon and White got on the board with a short touchdown run by Moss.
The Aggies limited LSU to another punt on the ensuing drive and once again, their offense did its best to burn the clock with a string of runs by freshman running back Rueben Owens and completions to wide receivers sophomore Noah Thomas and junior Moose Muhammad III to set up a game-leading field goal by junior Randy Bond.
However, the lead was short-lived, as Daniels strung together a run-heavy drive that led to a 6-yard touchdown pass to Nabers.
With around 5 minutes left in the half, Robinson said he looked to end the quarter with a kick, either by field goal or extra-point.
He got the latter, as Henderson put together a touchdown drive, this time with longer plays to Smith, Thomas, Moss and Henderson’s roommate, junior wide receiver Jahdae Walker to set up another lead-changing touchdown pass to Johnson.
With the ball back to start the second half, the Aggies maintained their momentum. The Henderson-Walker duo was as strong as ever, as the pair connected for 43 yards to set up a third-and-goal. Instead of handing the ball off to one of the backs, Robinson instead had freshman offensive lineman Mark Nabou Jr. run it in.
Down by 10, it seemed as if Daniels’ Heisman resume was at stake as he had uncharacteristically only garnered 52 passing yards and 59 rushing yards through the first half and a lone touchdown.
The Heisman hopeful came back and got back into his usual groove, with a 49-yard run on fourth-and-4 a handoff to senior running back Josh Williams to cut the A&M lead back to 3.
Though A&M executed another long offensive drive to set up a Bond field-goal attempt, the kicker booted it to the right and it remained a 3-point game.
Then, A&M’s fourth quarter woes kicked in.
After forcing a three-and-out from the Tigers, Henderson threw a pick to junior linebacker Greg Penn II, and Daniels took advantage of the short field with a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr.
Fresh off an interception, Henderson was sacked on his next drive and A&M was forced to give the ball back to Daniels without any points.
The Tigers’ quarterback capitalized on his defense’s play with a touchdown pass to Nabers, who climbed the ladder to catch the high ball.
Though A&M attempted a comeback with a 51-yard touchdown run-after-catch by Wright, Daniels sealed the deal with his fourth touchdown pass of the day to senior wide receiver Kyren Lacy.
Despite coming out on fire in the first half, the Aggies ultimately struggled in the second half and Henderson attributed the offense’s second half struggles to LSU changing its defensive look.
“First half, we were clicking on all cylinders,” Henderson said. “I was precise with the reads. Honestly [LSU’s defense] changed some things up the second half and there were some plays I wish I could have back, so I just tip my hat off to them. They played a great second half on defense.”
A small step-up from a 5-7 record the previous year, the Maroon and White will look to both prepare for a bowl game as well as finding their next head coach.

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