The Texas A&M Aggies lost against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. The Aggies’ offense failed to show balance with the passing game, and running backs Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller carried most of the load. Now, Texas A&M returns home for a two-game stretch against SEC West opponents, which will likely determine its success for this season. Losing to a top-25 team in Arkansas doesn’t end Texas A&M’s season, but it reinforces the need for change on the offensive side of the ball. Here’s a quarter-by-quarter analysis of the Aggies’ loss to the Razorbacks.
Quarter 1: Razorbacks Dominate
The Aggies started out with the ball in the first quarter. Spiller mainly got the ball, but the Razorbacks’ defense limited him early. Arkansas’s defensive front applied good pressure on Zach Calzada, and he was forced to scramble on the first drive. He did make some tough runs, which may have tensed up Aggies’ fans.
Texas A&M force-fed the ball to Spiller on the second drive, and for good reason. He got 20 yards out of a screen pass, and he ran for three first downs during the Aggies’ march downfield. A false start and negative play by Achane forced the Aggies to punt near midfield.
The Aggies gave the ball to Spiller again to begin the third drive, but the Razorbacks’ defense shut it down much like the first drive. Calzada made some poor decisions near the end of the first quarter, and the Aggies were forced to punt yet again.
Everyone knows that the main scheme of the Razorbacks’ offense is their running attack. Well, Texas A&M didn’t appear to be ready for it. In Trelon Smith‘s first three rushes he totaled up 43 yards. Arkansas nearly got into the red zone on their first drive, but the Aggies forced a fourth down. Cam Little hit a 46-yard field goal to put the Razorbacks up 3-0.
The Arkansas Razorbacks went into the second quarter with a 10-0 advantage over the Aggies. Razorbacks outgained the Aggies by nearly 100 yards.
Quarter 2: Razorbacks Keep Control
Texas A&M’s offensive line continued to get pushed around. Arkansas was getting pressure on a three-man rush. Achane’s speed allowed him to slip some tackles on the Aggies’ fourth drive, but penalties continued to hold back the Aggies; they were forced to punt due to multiple holding calls.
Calzada overshot a couple of passes during Texas A&M’s fifth drive. However, it’s hard to blame him when he has zero time in the pocket. A pass interference call got the Aggies into Arkansas’s territory, but the Aggies were stalled at midfield.
The Aggies ran the two-minute drill on their sixth drive, and Achane really got going. No one was really open downfield, so Calzada routinely dumped the ball off. Texas A&M had a near-fumble, but Achane got back on the ball. Calzada continued to be pressured, and the Razorbacks’ defense was all over his scrambles. The worst part of it all: Jalen Wydermyer had zero catches in the first half. Seth Small hit a 49-yard field goal to give Texas A&M its first points.
Arkansas brought out all the tricks on its third drive. Wide receiver Warren Thompson threw a pass to Treylon Burks for a 27-yard gain. The Aggies were poor at tackling, and running back A.J. Green finished off the drive with a touchdown for the Razorbacks to lead 17-0. Texas A&M’s defense had no answers for the skill talent on Arkansas’s side.
The Aggies forced a three-and-out on the Razorbacks’ fourth drive, which finally gave the Aggies good field position.
Jefferson began the fifth drive with a big run for Arkansas. The Razorbacks pushed the ball towards midfield, and a defensive pass interference call continued the drive. Smith ran to put Arkansas in the red zone. Jefferson nearly had a deep pass to Burks, but it was called incomplete. The Razorbacks turned it over on downs. Regardless, Texas A&M’s secondary looked really confused on this drive.
The Razorbacks held a 17-3 lead over the Aggies going into halftime.
Quarter 3: Aggies Get Back in the Game
The Aggies’ seventh drive was more of the same from the first half. Achane kept getting the ball in passes to the backfield, but the Razorbacks were always over it. Calzada was sacked, making the Aggies punt. It didn’t make sense how the offensive line could be so much worse than last year.
Texas A&M finally broke it loose with Spiller running for a 67-yard touchdown for the Aggies to reduce the lead to 17-10 for the Razorbacks.
Wydermyer finally had a catch on the Aggies’ ninth drive. A 15-yard penalty led the Aggies to punt yet again. Even with the penalty, the Aggies had a chance. Calzada just persisted to be inaccurate.
The Razorbacks started out with the ball in the second half. On Arkansas’s sixth drive, Jefferson appeared to get injured after a run to the outside. The Aggies’ defense showed some life after forcing a negative run by Smith. The Razorbacks nearly fumbled on third down, but they ended up recovering and punting the ball.
The Aggies’ defense was able to force a three-and-out on the Razorbacks’ seventh drive. Jefferson really didn’t look like himself when scrambling on third down.
Jefferson was out for most of the eighth drive, but the Razorbacks managed to get to midfield with Malik Hornsby at quarterback. Texas A&M was able to force a punt, however. The Aggies’ defense really came to play in the second half.
Hornsby returned at quarterback for the Razorbacks on their ninth drive. Smith broke out for a big run to end the third quarter.
Arkansas held a 17-10 lead over Texas A&M heading into the fourth quarter.
Quarter 4: Arkansas Finishes it Off
Calzada began the 10th drive for the Aggies with a pass to the outside to Smith for 23 yards. He proceeded to throw an interception to Montaric Brown to end the drive.
Achane returned the ball to the 32-yard line to start the Aggies’ 11th drive. Wydermyer had two drops, and holding penalties pushed the Aggies back near their end zone. Jimbo Fisher decided to punt on fourth-and-10, which seemed odd with Texas A&M down 10 with seven minutes left.
Calzada held the ball for way too long in the fourth quarter. A failure to convert on fourth down during the 12th drive ended the game for the Aggies.
Arkansas continued its ninth drive to start the fourth quarter. Razorbacks had no success running the ball on this drive as the Aggies’ defense really tightened up.
The Razorbacks began their 10th drive in Aggies’ territory. A quick run and pass put Arkansas near the red zone. However, penalties in goal-to-go situations forced Arkansas to settle for a field goal; Cam Little put the Razorbacks up 20-10. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Burks headed to the locker room due to an injury.
Jefferson returned for Arkansas’s 11th drive. The Razorbacks pounded the ball to grind out the clock, but the Aggies’ defense was all over the run. A big throw to Warren Thompson led to a first down, but Arkansas had to punt with three minutes left in the fourth.
The Arkansas Razorbacks came out victorious against the Texas A&M Aggies, winning 20-10.
Sam Pittman clearly has the Arkansas Razorbacks headed in the right direction at 4-0. Still, there’s no excuse for the Texas A&M Aggies to lose to a less talented team. Fisher now has to adjust the offense to fit Calzada’s strengths. It’s clear that the Aggies’ offensive line can’t hold up, so getting the ball to playmakers quickly has to be a priority. Specifically, Ainias Smith and Jalen Wydermyer must get the ball more.
The Texas A&M Aggies face Mississippi State at home next week, and Alabama in two weeks. Needless to say, Aggies’ fans probably are not confident in their team for winning the next two games. That confidence can be gained from this week’s practice; everything’s still up for grabs.