Aggies Win Big Against Kent State

Aggies Kent State

Today, Texas A&M celebrated its centennial anniversary of the 12th man during the Aggies’ game against Kent State. The crowd at Kyle Field was in full force, and the Aggies finished the night with a strong win against the Kent State Golden Flashes. Here’s a quarter-by-quarter analysis of the Aggies’ big win over Kent State. 

First Quarter: Balanced Attack

Texas A&M Offense

As expected, the Aggies began the game by feeding both Ainias Smith and Isaiah Spiller in the backfield. On the first drive, Texas A&M was able to move the ball quickly down the field due to production in the running game. Haynes King looked poised in his first start, and he got comfortable throwing passes to his wide receivers: Caleb Chapman and Chase Lane. King also established an early connection with Jalen Wydermyer, and King ended the opening drive with his first passing touchdown to Smith to put the Aggies up 7-0; The offensive line proved to be effective throughout the first quarter, but Smith did have a drop which caused the Aggies to settle for a field goal and make the score 10-3.

Texas A&M Defense

Dustin Crum, Kent State’s quarterback, is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the FBS. The Golden Flashes started the game by going to the passing game; a costly penalty by Texas A&M moved the ball to midfield for the Golden Flashes. Surprisingly, Kent State kept running the ball with Marquez Cooper right up the middle; this didn’t seem to be the best idea initially with the Aggies’ defensive line dominating the line of scrimmage early. Crum did use his legs efficiently and scrambled outside the pocket, but the Aggies were able to hold Kent State’s offense in the red zone, and the score was 7-3 early. Near the end of the quarter, Texas A&M began to gain momentum by forcing defensive stops. However, the absence of linebacker Buddy Johnson was felt early in the game.

Second Quarter: Haynes King Show?

Texas A&M Offense

King missed a couple of deep throws in the second quarter, which left the Aggies’ offense stagnant for a bit. Although he didn’t make the best throws today, King made most of the correct plays. It was clear that his decision-making in most plays was valid; his aggressive approach when throwing the ball was responsible for interceptions. King used his legs early in the quarter, which reminded some fans of Johnny Manziel. Kent State’s defense started to respect King’s running ability more, so King was later forced to throw from the pocket.

Darrell Dickey, A&M’s offensive coordinator, called some plays that allowed King to make easier throws in the middle of the field. However, King chose to throw in risky areas and ended up throwing two interceptions in the second quarter. After King started the game six-for-six, his performance seemed to take a drop before halftime. Devon Achane also got a few carries, and he played a bigger role later in the game. Kent State did have a positive when its defense forced a turnover on downs. 

Texas A&M Defense

Crum continued to run towards the outside and gain positive yards for Kent State. Texas A&M’s Antonio Johnson made a good play by breaking up a screen play run by Kent State in the backfield. Bryan Bradford had some good runs during Kent State’s drive before halftime, but Crum ended the drive with an interception picked off by Leon O’Neal Jr. in the end zone. For a veteran quarterback, Crum made some bad decisions throughout the game. Neither team scored during an unimpressive second quarter.

Third Quarter: Settling In Offensively

Texas A&M Offense

Again, King had way too many high throws late in the game. However, he did have an impressive throw to Chapman down the field. Wydermyer took some shots from Kent State’s defense, but he continued to impress with some good catches. Seth Small hit another 49-yard goal field goal to extend the lead to 13-3 for A&M. Smith made some big plays in the third quarter, and Spiller looked absolutely unstoppable. The playcalling from the Aggies’ offense seemed so vanilla. With all that talent, one would expect more creativity from offensive coaching. Nonetheless, the Aggies moved the ball down the field much better in the third quarter than during the entire first half. Devon Achane continued to show his incredible speed whenever he touched the ball; his speedy 63-yard touchdown made it 27-3.

Texas A&M Defense

Texas A&M’s front seven continually made a great effort to bat down Crum’s throws. While Kent State moved the ball well early, the Aggies’ defense soon got a feel for Kent State’s game plan and caused negative yardage plays. In fact, the Aggies forced quite a few three-and-outs in the second half. The only problem was that the Aggies repeatedly sent pressure off the edge in the third quarter. This tactic just let the middle of the line become softer, and Cooper then had success running the ball. O’ Neal Jr. was nearly ejected for targeting on a rather dumb play where he launched at Cooper out of bounds. Luckily, Crum was just off the whole game, and he threw another pick in the red zone. O’Neal Jr. returned the interception to the house for an 85-yard touchdown to make it 20-3. The pass rush finally started getting to Crum in the second half. Texas A&M’s defense really started to look like itself from last year. 

Fourth Quarter: Foot on the Gas Pedal

Texas A&M Offense

The fact that Jimbo Fisher kept King in throughout the game showed that Fisher is confident with King as the starter. King had more time in the pocket and felt more comfortable making throws to the outside in the fourth quarter. The Aggies exceeded 500 yards of offense, and Lane started to display his talent as a receiver. The hits that King took late in the game worried Aggies’ fans, but he fought through it. Smith caught yet another touchdown to put the Aggies up 34-3. Both running backs each finished with more than 100 all-purpose yards. Achane had another impressive 30-yard rush near the end of the game, and he rushed for a one-yard touchdown to make it 41-10. King ended his first start with yet another interception. 

Texas A&M Defense

Kent State ran the ball more early in the fourth, and they were able to move down the field. Collin Schlee, the backup quarterback for Kent State, rushed in for a touchdown to reduce Texas A&M’s lead to 24 points: 34-10. Cooper, continued to run aggressively, but the game was sealed by then. Crum continued to make mistakes in the red zone. A sack within the 5-yard line led to Kent State missing a 24-yard field goal. In fact, Kent State ended the fourth quarter missing another 25-yard field goal. Needless to say, a difficult ending for the Golden Flashes.  

Concluding Thoughts

The final score was 41-10 with the Aggies coming out victorious over Kent State. Although this performance by Texas A&M wasn’t exactly dominating, it was a good win that should lead the Aggies in the right direction. Now, the focus shifts to the Colorado matchup next week. 

There are still many areas that require improvement for Texas A&M heading into next week. King was able to gain yards by escaping the pocket, but he overthrew some of his deep balls. Feeding the ball to Spiller in each game is crucial to the Aggies’ success this season; Texas A&M is 13-0 when giving Spiller 15 or more touches. Moreover, the secondary has to close up the sidelines better. Crum made it look easy early in the game; secondary weakness will definitely be exploited by SEC teams.

On the other hand, the Aggies had some good schemes that involved their best players. Creating room for Smith in the slot makes it easier for Texas A&M to operate their offense. It makes no sense why Demond Demas is not out on the field for the Aggies. King has a lot of receiving threats around him, but Demas is an outstanding talent that needs to be used. To compete in the SEC, Fisher must play his best players.