The Texas A&M Aggies fell to the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field. The Aggies now head into a matchup with Alabama following back-to-back losses. The offense with Zach Calzada at quarterback continues to struggle with balance. While the Bulldogs exposed some holes in Mike Elko‘s defense. Here’s a quarter-by-quarter analysis of the Aggies’ first home loss this season.
Quarter 1: Mississippi State Starts Strong
Calzada began the game looking out of sync, and he threw an interception to Fred Peters on the first drive. On the second drive, Texas A&M quickly reached Mississippi State’s territory thanks to a big 45-yard run by Isaiah Spiller. Calzada finishes the drive with a touchdown pass to Jalen Wydermyer.
Devon Achane was the focal point of the third drive, and he had two runs each of more than 10 yards. The Aggies reached the red zone, but they were forced to settle for a field goal after Calzada was sacked by Tyrus Wheat.
It would make more sense for Texas A&M to get the ball out of Calzada’s hands quickly. Playmakers like Achane, Spiller, and Wydermyer are bound to make big plays for the Aggies.
Mike Leach’s air raid offense got off to a good start. After starting in Aggies’ territory due to Calzada’s interception, the Bulldogs were forced out of the red zone and kicked a field goal to go up 3-0.
Will Rogers looked extremely impressive during his second drive. He connected with Malik Heath for a big gain, and Dillon Johnson ran the ball into the end zone for the score.
Mississippi State failed to get the running game going early, and Jo’quavious Marks was nonexistent in the first quarter much like the LSU game.
At the end of the first quarter, Mississippi State led Texas A&M 10-7.
Quarter 2: Defenses Control
The Aggies finished their third drive in the second quarter with a field goal to even up the score. Spiller either had big runs or plays for no gain in the quarter: no in-between. Calzada failed to connect on a screen pass, which essentially ended the fourth drive. The Aggies really appear to be an average SEC team with Calzada at the helm.
Ainias Smith had a big punt return to put the Aggies near midfield for their fifth drive, but it got called back. The running back trio of Achane, Smith, and Spiller is the best in a while.
Spiller fumbled the ball on the fifth drive, but the Aggies got right back on top of it. Calzada threw a nice deep ball to Jalen Preston, connecting for nearly 30 yards. If A&M’s offensive line gives Calzada time, he can make the right throws. Calzada became hectic to run at times when only green grass was in front of him. Smith caught the ball on a slant and got a few runs during this drive as well. Nathaniel Watson sacked Calzada in the red zone, forcing the Aggies to settle for a field goal.
Texas A&M ran the two-minute drill on its sixth drive, and Calzada started with a pass to Achane to get the Aggies near midfield. A bobbled snap led the Aggies to third-and-long, and they had to punt it back to the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s defensive front was getting to Calzada with a three-man rush.
The Bulldogs were driving down the field on their third drive, but DeMarvin Leal was able to tip a screen pass forcing Mississippi State to kick. Nolan McCord missed the field goal, which gave the Aggies a good field position.
The fourth drive for Bulldogs was much of the same, and Rogers continually dropped back to throw the ball. Mississippi State kept going to the check-downs, and the Bulldogs ended up punting it back to the Aggies.
Jamire Calvin started Mississippi State’s fifth drive with a big gain for 23 yards off a screen pass. The Bulldogs’ sixth drive did not feature a single run play, but Rogers still managed to tear up the Aggies’ secondary. Rogers threw a beautiful fade to Makai Polk for a 15-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs nearly got into field goal range on their sixth drive, but a false start penalty ended the half.
Mississippi State headed into halftime with a 17-13 lead over Texas A&M.
Quarter 3: Offensive Showdown
Texas A&M began its seventh drive at its five-yard line. Spiller had two runs, and Calzada overthrew a pass to Wydermyer to go three-and-out.
Aggies leaned on the running game during the eighth drive. Smith got the ball more, but penalties continued to hold back Texas A&M. Spiller had a good, physical run to get the Aggies into the Bulldogs’ territory. Calzada ended the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run to get Texas A&M back within a score. Calzada threw an incomplete pass on the two-point conversion.
Mississippi State started with the ball in the second half. On the Bulldogs’ seventh drive, they had 2 screen passes that advanced them past midfield. Heath almost caught a pass on a go-route, but it was broken up at the last second, leading the Bulldogs to punt.
Bulldogs started their eighth drive near the 25-yard line, and Calzada missed an open pass to Calvin on first down. Lideatrick Griffin had a couple of good catches, and Polk had more than 100 receiving yards by the end of the drive. The Aggies really had no answer for the Bulldogs’ passing attack. Rogers ended the drive with another touchdown pass to Polk, putting Mississippi State up by two scores.
Marks had a nice run for a first down to begin Mississippi State’s ninth drive. Leon O’ Neal Jr. seemed to be shaken up, but it wasn’t a major injury.
Mississippi State finished the third quarter with a 24-19 lead over Texas A&M.
Quarter 4: Mississippi State Holds On
Achane ran for 38 yards on the Aggies’ first play of their ninth drive. Smith got Texas A&M into the red zone on a sideline throw by Calzada. He proceeded to overthrow Demond Demas and Smith on possible touchdown passes, but Seth Small hit a field goal to put the Aggies within two points.
Texas A&M started their final drive in need of a field goal. Calzada started with some dangerous throws, but he proceeded to make a huge mistake by committing a safety after being sacked in the end zone. This put the Bulldogs up by more than a field goal.
The Bulldogs continued their ninth drive to start the fourth quarter. A holding penalty pushed Mississippi State back, but a defensive pass interference kept the drive going. The Aggies kept dropping eight, so Rogers consistently went to the curl route. Christian Ford picked up a crucial first down on third down, and Rogers scrambled to get the ball in the red zone. Consecutive penalties committed by the Bulldogs led them to end the drive with a missed 49-yard field goal.
Mississippi State’s 10th drive featured many late handoffs and screen passes that got the Bulldogs some first downs on this drive; however, the Aggies’ defense stopped Rogers and his offense near midfield.
Mississippi started their 11th drive with two minutes left and a four-point lead. Johnson started the drive with a five-yard run, and he then ran for a first down. The Aggies had only one timeout, but the Bulldogs put the ball on the ground to finish the game.
Mississippi State came out with a 26-22 victory over Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
No doubt, a tough loss for the Texas A&M Aggies. Now, they will face the best team in the country next week at Kyle Field. The running game was the only positive from this matchup against Mississippi State, and that will need to be the emphasis for the rest of the season to win games.
The Texas A&M secondary definitely has holes, which can be exploited during the passing game. Mike Elko must come up with a plan to have a counter for the spread offense. Otherwise, it could get ugly down the road.