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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Southwest Classic: How A&M’s offense matches up against Arkansas’ defense

Junior+RB+Amari+Daniels+%284%29+runs+the+ball+for+a+79+yard+gain+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Auburn+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+23%2C+2023+at+Kyle+Field.+%28Ishika+Samant%2FThe+Battalion%29
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Junior RB Amari Daniels (4) runs the ball for a 79 yard gain during Texas A&M’s game against Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

It seems like there have been a lot of first-year coordinator matchups for Texas A&M so far. That trend continues as A&M takes on Arkansas this week.

Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino has vastly improved the Aggie offense. Last season, A&M’s offense only scored in the 30s twice. The Aggies have already done so three times this season.

The offense accumulated 402 total yards versus Auburn and will face off against a Razorback defense that struggled this past weekend.

First-year coordinator Travis Williams leads the Razorbacks’ defense. Williams was previously the defensive coordinator for UCF where he coached a top-40 scoring defense.

So far, Arkansas’ defense looked solid at times, but mistakes and big plays hurt Williams’ unit last week at LSU.

The Tigers were able to burn Arkansas on multiple occasions. LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns. All of those touchdowns, as well as 263 of those passing yards, went to junior receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr.

With the playmakers A&M has, expect Petrino to get them involved early. Losing sophomore quarterback Connor Weigman to a season-ending injury hurts, but A&M fans shouldn’t worry too much as sophomore Max Johnson might be the best backup in the nation.

Johnson stepped in after Weigman went down injured and completed seven of his 11 passes. He threw for 123 yards and two touchdowns and will need to continue playing well as A&M continues conference play.

Sophomore receiver Evan Stewart didn’t get much volume last week versus Auburn as he finished with three catches. However, one of those catches was a 37-yard touchdown from Johnson. Graduate receiver Ainias Smith also caught five passes for 78 yards.

Sophomore receiver Noah Thomas didn’t play versus Auburn but is expected to play against the Razorbacks. He had a hot start to the season and adds a jump-ball threat to an explosive Aggie offense.

Expect Smith to be able to find soft spots in the Razorbacks’ zone which should open up the deep ball for Stewart and Thomas.

Williams’ unit was exceptional in run defense through the first three weeks but was killed in the trenches against LSU as the Tigers rushed for 189 yards on 29 carries. A&M’s running back trio could make some noise this weekend.

Sophomore running back Le’Veon Moss had a fantastic game versus Auburn. He rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown. Junior Amari Daniels and freshman Rueben Owens added 85 and 20 yards, respectively.

Although the Arkansas defense struggled last week, the group has plenty of talent. Leading the way is the linebacker duo of junior Jaheim Thomas and sophomore Chris Paul Jr.

Thomas transferred from Cincinnati where he had 95 total tackles in 28 games. He currently leads the Razorbacks in total tackles with 43 and has a team-high three sacks. Paul is second on the team in tackles with 25 with one sack.

Junior defensive lineman Landon Jackson had a quiet game against LSU but has recorded 11 tackles, including two sacks on the season. Senior defensive linemen Taurean Carter and Keivie Rose have combined for 19 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

The most interesting matchup will be between A&M’s receivers and Arkansas’ defensive backs. The defensive backfield for Arkansas got torched last week, but the group is very experienced.

Senior Dwight McGlothern has a team-high two interceptions and also had a forced fumble two weeks ago against BYU. Starting across from McGlothern is freshman defensive back Jaheim Singletary.

Singletary, a former four-star, started his career at Georgia but joined the Razorbacks this past offseason. So far, he has recorded 10 tackles and three pass deflections.

Senior Alfahiym Walcott and junior Jayden Johnson start at strong and free safety, respectively.

Walcott spent the first three years of his career at Baylor, where he was a member of the Bears’ Sugar Bowl win. This season, Walcott has 16 tackles and a pass deflection.

Johnson has had a great start to the season. He has recorded 17 tackles, one interception and has forced a fumble.

The Arkansas defense has the talent but has yet to put things together so far. It will be interesting to see how Petrino attacks a Razorback team that has given up 34 and 38 in their last two games.

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About the Contributor
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
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