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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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The boys are back in town: Aggie offense vs Lobo defense

Photo by Ryan Hartfiel

Ainias Smith breaks through an attempted tackle by Corey Hightower.

After a disappointing season filled with subpar offense that led to the hiring of offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, A&M will look to show off its brand new offense against New Mexico in Week 1.
Leading the helm for the maroon and white is sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman. On Aug. 28, head coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Weigman would be the starter, beating out red-shirt sophomore Max Johnson.
The new changes, mixed with young and returning players, will look to help the Aggies bounce back from last season. However, the visiting Lobos will also come into the matchup with a new twist of their own.
The Aggies will be treated to an offense called by Petrino, a long-tenured coach who has worked with many successful teams. He also coached players like 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and now will have the opportunity to coach Weigman.
The seed for success was planted in Weigman’s first start against then-No. 15 Ole Miss, where he set a new A&M true-freshman record with 388 yards to go, along with four touchdowns.
The receiving core — led by graduate Ainias Smith, sophomore Evan Stewart and junior Moose Muhammad III — will also complement the young quarterback. Smith, Stewart and graduate Layden Robinson were also recognized, earning Preseason Coaches All-SEC Team awards.
With the departure of running back Devon Achane to the big leagues, junior back Amari Daniels will look to fill in some big shoes in the backfield.
Helping make the lanes bigger for him will be key, and it starts with sophomore center Bryce Foster, who is coming off an injury-plagued season.
Alongside Foster on the line are freshmen Chase Bisontis, TJ Shanahan and Colton Thomasson. Returning linemen like Robinson, sophomore Kam Deberry and junior Reuben Fatheree II will assist the new players in protecting the backfield.
Overall, with a mind like Petrino at offensive coordinator, young talent such as Weigman and Stewart and an overall team that will try to be healthy all season, the Fightin’ Farmers will look to rack up points and improve on their 22.8 points per game from last year.
The maroon and white will not be alone in showing off a new system. The Lobos promoted corners coach Troy Reffett to defensive coordinator. Under his leadership, the Lobos corners have flourished, especially last season.
Though the team started two true freshmen, they contributed to a defense that produced the lowest defensive passing yardage output in 15 years. Despite finishing 2-10 last season, New Mexico’s defense is strong and was ranked as the 61st-best defense in the country last season.
Leading the charge is red-shirt senior cornerback Donte Martin. He recorded six pass breakups last season and led all Lobos corners in both pass breakups and tackles. He is on the verge of breaking New Mexico’s longtime record for pass breakups in a career, currently sitting fifth on New Mexico’s all-time list.
Though former star linebacker Dion Hunter transferred to Cincinnati following the 2022-23 season, junior Alec Marenco and senior Syaire Riley will look to step in as the new starters.
The defense last year also produced NFL talent in the form of safety Jerrick Reed II, who was drafted in the sixth round.
Although the Lobos haven’t had a winning record since 2016, and come into the game with a 0-5 record against the Aggies, their defense is not something to take lightly. Overall, it will be a good first test for both teams as they showcase new systems and coordinators.

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