The Texas A&M Aggies are done with their diet of cupcakes until November 20 against Prairie View. Their next seven games are in the SEC, and they play their next five games on consecutive weekends before getting a day of rest on Saturday, Oct. 30.
By Steve Wright
It’s time for this team to saddle up and show what it can do, knowing that it will ride into gameday situations with a backup quarterback. This stretch will test A&M’s versatility, depth and resourcefulness. It will challenge Jimbo Fisher and his staff to be at their best and manage situations with the deftness one would hope for from a coach making tens of millions of dollars. This first SEC game of the year against the Arkansas Razorbacks is usually close. Saturday’s return to JerryWorld figures to be no exception.
1 – Zach Calzada
The biggest key to this game is not a mystery. Calzada has had a few games under his belt after Haynes King got injured. Now is the time for Calzada to prove that he has grown and developed as a quarterback. He does need help from his teammates – more on that in a bit – but Calzada has to be noticeably better than he was against Colorado. He has to avoid fumbling near the goal line. He has to make plays outside the pocket and function well in improvisational situations. Calzada doesn’t need to be a hero by fitting throws into very tight windows against good coverage. He needs to process this game properly, make the obvious plays which are available to make, and emphasize ball security. A&M’s offense doesn’t need to be explosive, but it does need to win third downs and establish both field position and ball control. Calzada knows these things going in, but that’s head knowledge. What resides in his head now needs to be applied on the field. That is the fundamental reality of competition: performing well in live action after days upon days of practice and training.
2 – A&M offensive line needs to help its quarterback
You might have noticed that transfer quarterback Charlie Brewer abruptly left the Utah Utes after three games. Yes, this is the same Charlie Brewer who took Baylor within one win of the College Football Playoff in 2019. Brewer didn’t play well, to be sure, but his offensive line was supposed to be very good, and it played horribly. Quarterback performance and offensive line performance go hand in hand. No one needs an explanation on that point. The Aggies’ offensive linemen need to take it upon themselves to make Calzada’s day easier.
3 – Wear the cape if one has to
The defense was a group of 11 supermen against Colorado. Any slip-up, any lapse, after Colorado’s early touchdown probably would have meant defeat for the Aggies. The defense held the line and pitched a shutout after the Buffaloes’ early score. If Calzada struggles, the defense shouldn’t be expected to win another 10-7 or 13-10 game, but the defense has to enter this game knowing that it needs to be at its very best to maximize the Aggies’ chances of prevailing against a good Arkansas team with a strong offensive front. The A&M defense, especially the front seven, need to be ready to spill the tank and not let up in this contest.