In a week of stunning Sun Belt Upsets (Marshall over Notre Dame & Georgia Southern over Nebraska), Appalachian State’s 17-14 win over Texas A&M led the headlines.
By Steve Wright
Teams will eventually learn to stop scheduling the Mountaineers, but for now, the Aggies have to find a way to rebound as Jimbo Fisher’s seat should be getting warmer.
Here are the three keys to a win over the Hurricanes:
Find an Identity on Offense
Texas A&M had the No. 6 ranking heading into their matchup with the Mountaineers. It was a ranking based as much on hype as anything else, with Fisher having assembled a couple of stunning recruiting classes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The problem with the Aggies? They don’t have any kind of offensive identity.
Against Appalachian State, they gained just 186 total yards. Quarterback Haynes King will develop into a good one, and the pieces are there in the running game, but where are the skill guys to win them games right now? I think this is supposed to be a running and ball control team, but that is a gamble in an era of tempo offenses that can score three times in half a quarter.
Keep the Game Under Control
This goes back to the question of tempo and offensive identity. Texas A&M doesn’t feel like a team that can go down by a couple of scores and come roaring back to win. That could be an issue against a Miami team that has been outstanding on offense through two games.
Sure, those games were against Southern Miss and Bethune Cookman, but there are plenty of Power Five teams with two cupcakes under their belt that haven’t scored over 100 points and rolled for over 1,000 yards through two games. The way for A&M to win this is for the defense to step up and keep it close enough for the offense to work through its issues.
No More Turnovers
Miami is an opportunistic team they have three takeaways in each game so far. This could be a problem against Texas A&M, a team with four turnovers and little margin to turn the ball over at this stage in the offensive progression. Field position will also be key. A&M cannot let Miami and its athletes start drives in plus territory. Rely on the special teams and don’t turn the ball over for a cathartic win.