The Texas A&M Aggies posted a close win against the Colorado Buffaloes at Empower Field in Boulder on Saturday. After Haynes King went down with an injury, Zach Calzada stepped in and led the Aggies to a 10-7 victory. Check out a quarter-by-quarter analysis of the matchup between the Texas A&M Aggies and Colorado Buffaloes.
First Quarter: Colorado Starts Off Strong
Haynes King left the game midway through the first quarter due to an apparent leg injury. Zach Calzada came in for King, but he didn’t look all that great to start the game; he had a completion rate of 40% in the first quarter. Both Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller struggled against the Colorado run defense early. Spiller and Jalen Wydermeyer were the only ones with a catch in the quarter, for Colorado controlled the time of possession.
Brendon Lewis, Colorado’s redshirt freshman quarterback, was intercepted by Jayden Peevy on the first drive after intense pressure by the Aggies’ defense. However, his passing did improve over the course of the game. Jarek Broussard got a couple carries in the first quarter, but Lewis actually had the big runs early in the game. The Buffaloes got in the red zone during their second drive, and Broussard finished it off with a touchdown.
Colorado had a controversial call for a catch during the third drive, and they ended up on the wrong side of the review. Regardless, the Buffaloes looked awfully impressive on offense against the Aggies’ defense to begin the game. Colorado used the middle of the field well with crossing routes and often broke tackles.
Colorado was up 7-0 heading into the second quarter.
Second Quarter: Defenses Dominate
Achane was fed the ball more in the second quarter, and Calzada also got into the running game. It didn’t make much sense why Jimbo Fisher chose to run Calzada to the outside on some plays, especially when King was already injured. Calzada continued to throw a couple inaccurate passes, and the Aggies were forced to punt on their third drive. Colorado nearly came up with a blocked punt, and they ended up with good field possession by affecting Nik Constantinou‘s kick.
On the Aggies’ fourth drive, Calzada began with a pretty throw to Caleb Chapman, but he dropped it. The Aggies’ offense never really got rolling in the first half. The Aggies were one-for-eight on third down heading into halftime, and they only had two first downs. Seth Small made a 41-yard field goal to end the half.
Colorado continued to move the ball down the field, and Lewis used the outside to lead the Buffaloes into the red zone yet again. DeMarvin Leal had an impressive play where he blew up a run counter on the left side. A&M was able to hold Colorado out of the red zone on the third drive, and Cole Becker ended up missing the field goal. On the fourth drive, Lewis seemed to be a bit more inaccurate, as the Aggies pass rush finally got to him.
Broussard again seemed to have so much space when running up the middle of the field; Colorado’s offensive line continued to dominate the line of scrimmage. Every run that Colorado had in the second quarter appeared to result in a first down.
Lewis became more conservative with the ball, but holding and pass interference by the Aggies’ defense bailed out the Buffaloes’ offense. Broussard led Colorado into the red zone yet again, but A&M forced a turnover on downs. Colorado went three-and-out on the fifth drive, but dominated in first-half yardage compared to the Aggies.
Heading into halftime, Colorado was up 7-3.
Third Quarter: More of the same
The Aggies’ offense started the third quarter with two consecutive three-and-outs. Yet again, Calzada was inaccurate on his throws, and he never seemed quite comfortable in the pocket in the quarter. Near the end of the first half, the Aggies drove down the field by getting the ball to their playmakers. They didn’t make that same effort to start the second half. The Aggies had a 10-play drive near the end of the third quarter, where Calzada has some short runs and Achane pounded the ball. However, it resulted in no points. The Aggies remained without a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter.
An significantly improved performance by the defense in the third quarter. It was the kid of defense you expect from a team that will compete in the SEC West. The Aggies’ defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs coming out of halftime. The fourth drive of the quarter was a five-play drive that was shortened due to mistakes by Colorado’s offense. Texas A&M’s defensive line showed significant improvement from the first half; the talent gap between the Aggies’ defense and Colorado’s offense became apparent after halftime. Colorado’s offense was nonexistent in the third quarter, and that’s the impact of the Aggies having the best defense in the SEC.
Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter: Colorado remained up 7-3 over Texas A&M.
Fourth Quarter: Clutch Time
The Aggies started the fourth quarter with a promising drive, but it ended in a fumble by Zach Calzada. With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Texas A&M started their final drive. Calzada finally looked poised, and he spread the ball to Achane and Spiller, who both made the magic happen. The Aggies were in the red zone facing a third down, and a miscommunication led to a delay of game penalty. On third-and-nine, Calzada ended the drive with a beautiful touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone, and Spiller came down with the ball. For the first time in the game, the Aggies led 10-7 and with two minutes left; the sideline could now breathe a sigh of relief.
Texas A&M’s defensive performance was much like that of the third quarter. The last three drives for Colorado were less than five plays, and the Aggies’ secondary essentially shut down the Buffaloes’ offense. If there’s any positive for Texas A&M heading into SEC play, it’s the secondary; that alone makes the Aggies a serious contender in SEC West. The game ended after a completion by Lewis on fourth-and-13 to Dimitri Stanley, but Stanley was only able to gain 11 yards. Colorado did have some questionable play calling on the last drive, but the Aggies’ defense was impressive regardless.
The Aggies came out victorious 10-7 at the end of the fourth quarter.
Frankly, the Texas A&M Aggies did not look like a top five team in their game against the Colorado Buffaloes. Nonetheless, a win is a win, and the Aggies will look to improve from their performance on Saturday. The severity of King’s injury is unknown, but A&M might have to go with Calzada at quarterback for a good amount of time. Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies’ staff will have to improvise their game plan to lead the team to success in the 2021 season; the current approach just doesn’t look or seem right. Thankfully, everything’s still up for grabs.