The Texas A&M Aggies lost starting quarterback Haynes King to injury, but they didn’t lose a football game this past weekend in Denver against the Colorado Buffaloes.
By Matt Zemek
A&M was able to score its only touchdown of the day in the final three minutes to escape the Rockies with a 10-7 win. Given that King did not dazzle with his play against Kent State the week before, it is not necessarily a crisis that King is out and that Zach Calzada is in. No, this is not the situation Jimbo Fisher and his staff wanted before the season, and it is not the situation A&M fans wanted. That is clear. However, the point to make is that with the offense struggling, losing a quarterback isn’t automatically a huge blow to the offense. It could be that Calzada will give this offense a lift after his unexpectedly busy day against Colorado. He might have learned how to play the position in that game, and is now ready to apply lessons when he returns to the field to lead this offense. None of us truly knows what to expect from Calzada, but we will have to wait and see. The journey continues for Calzada against New Mexico, a team which should enable the quarterback to settle into the offense and learn how to go about his business.
1 – Calzada’s classroom
Calzada was thrust into action after the King injury on Saturday in Denver. He had a bumpy ride which included a fumble just before the goal line which wiped out a touchdown against Colorado. Calzada can eliminate turnovers from his game – just doing that against New Mexico would give him and Fisher real confidence that the Aggies’ quarterback room can develop for the battles which lie ahead. Taking everything he saw on film against Colorado and applying it versus New Mexico can slowly build Calzada’s sense that he is ready to handle this job. He won’t become a finished product in this game – New Mexico does not reveal whether an opposing quarterback is truly ready to thrive – but he can take the first few steps in a larger process of evolution.
2 – Offensive line
With Calzada under center, everyone else needs to step up. The offensive line is first on the list. Blowing a weak New Mexico defensive line off the line of scrimmage would reduce Calzada’s workload. This is the position group which needs to set the tone for an Aggie offense which is undermanned and needs everyone to band together if the season is going to be salvaged.
3 – Simplified playbook
Texas A&M needs to be ready for Arkansas, the team’s SEC opener. Part of preparing for the Hogs means not giving Sam Pittman and defensive coordinator Barry Odom a lot to study. This New Mexico game is definitely a time for Jimbo Fisher to keep the playbook limited and simple, working with Calzada on the basics and not giving Arkansas a fuller indication of what the Aggies are likely to do against them. Oregon didn’t tip its hand to Ohio State when the Ducks beat Fresno State in Week 1. Texas A&M needs to similarly not give away too many of its best plays or formations, to the extent that it is possible.