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

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

The Battalion

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Takeaways from A&M’s 38-10 win over Abilene Christian

Photo by Photo by Julianne Shivers

Junior WR Moose Muhammad III hurdles over sophomore S Dorian Plumley (3) in Texas A&M’s game against ACU on Satuurday Nov. 18 2023 at Kyle Field. (Julianne Shivers/ The Battalion)

Texas A&M football’s matchup with Abilene Christian on Saturday, Nov. 18, wasn’t a seamless transition from former coach Jimbo Fisher to interim head coach Elijah Robinson, yet the Aggies closed out their Kyle Field slate with a 38-10 win.
The afternoon saw sophomore quarterback Jaylen Henderson start behind center in place of sophomore Max Johnson for the second week in a row. While Johnson remained out, sophomores wide receiver Evan Stewart, running back Le’Veon Moss and defensive back Bryce Anderson returned from injury.
Here are a few takeaways from Saturday at Kyle Field:
It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done
The past few years of A&M football have been marred by underwhelming performances against lower-tier competition, and this game didn’t feel much different on the offensive end. The Aggies defeated Sam Houston State and UMass last season, 31-0 and 20-3, respectively, yet there was a lingering feeling that A&M fans were left unsatisfied.
The Wildcats took most of the 94,794 in attendance by surprise when they returned an interception for a touchdown on the Aggies’ first drive. The early lead lasted less than 3 minutes, yet ACU stuck around to trail by only 10 at halftime. A field goal made it a two possession game with 14 minutes remaining before A&M strengthened its lead for good.
Yes, a win is a win, but the Aggies’ 51-10 clobbering of Mississippi State set the bar high against an FCS opponent. Instead, A&M came out of the gate “lackadaisical,” senior defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson said. With another 11 a.m. kickoff at LSU next week, the Aggies will need to wake up and avoid sleepwalking early.
Offensive line takes a step back
After struggling to protect the quarterback for much of the season, A&M’s offensive line appeared to turn a corner in a close loss to Ole Miss and the Mississippi State victory. The Aggies allowed just three sacks over the two games, but that’s just as many as ACU junior linebacker Cirby Coheley amassed against Henderson. He contributed to the Wildcats’ four total sacks while adding two of their five quarterback hurries.
Henderson has shown himself to be an adept runner, but that wasn’t always enough to escape an ACU pass rush that gave him fits throughout the game. Coheley put the Wildcats on the board when he returned a loose ball as a result of Henderson being hit as he attempted a pass. Henderson was saddled with a loss of 22 yards behind the line of scrimmage but had three rushes of 10 yards or more.
Affinity for the deep ball
For what it’s worth, Henderson’s harassment by the pass rush was due in part to the Aggies looking to go deep in their passing attack. That insistence had its benefits, as A&M tallied six receptions of 15 yards or more while Henderson passed for 260 yards.
Junior WR Moose Muhammad III was on the receiving end of three such passes en route to 104 yards and a touchdown on four catches. His simple 49-yard touchdown reception was special, but what really grabbed fans’ attention came six minutes later. Muhammad went airborne for a phenomenal one-handed snag at the A&M 34-yard line and followed it up by hurdling a defender to midfield.
Muhammad wasn’t the only Aggie with a nifty grab. Sophomore WR Noah Thomas caught his first touchdown since Week 2 with an over-the-shoulder catch on a well-placed 13-yard pass from Henderson. Junior WR Jahdae Walker added catches of 40 and 30 yards for most of his 88 yards on the day, and freshman tight end Jaden Platt’s first career touchdown wrapped up a successful outing for the receiving corps.
Rueben rumbles
Freshman RB Rueben Owens has exhibited growing pains in his first season on campus, but things appear to be coming together for the five-star recruit out of El Campo. Owens averaged 5.2 yards per carry last week before tying a career high with 18 carries and a career-best 106 yards against the Wildcats.
He put A&M on the board with a 7-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and followed it up with rushes of 28, 10 and 15 yards. Owens’ performance is the first 100-yard performance by a true freshman running back since De’Von Achane picked up 140 yards in the Orange Bowl in January 2021.
Owens has shown inconsistency in the backfield at times while splitting carries with Moss and junior RB Amari Daniels, but his upside makes him a player to watch over the remainder of the season.
Senior day
While Saturday marked Robinson’s first game leading A&M football, it was also the last game at Kyle Field for 18 seniors honored pregame. The list included Jackson, WR Ainias Smith, punter Nik Constantinou and DB Demani Richardson.
The game was particularly memorable for a group of 11 walk-ons that earned its spot on the field during a fourth quarter kickoff. The unit resembled the 12th Man kickoff team utilized by former coach Jackie Sherrill in the 1980’s, which was recognized during the game.
Walk-ons rarely see the playing field, but the group made the most of its time, as senior DBs Will Smoot and Alex Zettler laid a hit on the ACU kick returner that nearly resulted in a fumble. Regardless, the play sent both the fans and the A&M sideline into a frenzy while shining a light on a group of players that aren’t often in the spotlight.
“I was trying to figure out, ‘how could we get as many seniors out there as much as possible, especially the guys that come every day?’” Robinson said. “They’re on the scout team. They get no recognition. They don’t get to play a lot. How could we get those guys the opportunity to go on the field? And they’ll never forget that. I was excited to see those guys go out there and have success. And they’ll forever live with that.”

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  • Sophomore WR Noah Thomas (3) scores following a 13-yard pass from sophomore QB Jaylen Henderson (16) making the score 17-7 during Texas A&M’s game against ACU on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • The 12th man team consistent of walk on players on the Texas A&M football team bring the ball to the end zone during Texas A&M’s game against ACU on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore QB Jaylen Henderson (16) runs the ball during Texas A&M’s game against ACU on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

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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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