The Texas A&M Aggies fell to the Florida Gators 24-41. The Aggies are now 3-6, and they will have to win out to gain bowl eligibility. Thirty-one players were out for Texas A&M’s early game on Saturday, which contributed to the struggles on defense. Now, the Aggies will have to bounce back against Auburn on the road. Here’s a quick recap of Texas A&M’s loss to Florida.
Defense Can’t Stop the Run
Texas A&M’s defense continued to struggle to stop the rushing attack. Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne combined for 180 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. Anthony Richardson was not only lethal with his legs but very consistent in passing the ball in this game.
It’s hard to understand why the Aggies have trouble against the run, especially with the size and talent on the defensive front. Even when A&M got pressure, Richardson was able to scramble outside the pocket and find someone open. The Aggies’ secondary also had troubles against Florida’s receivers; Antonio Johnson and Bryce Anderson being out was a huge factor.
Throughout the game, it became clear that the Gators favored jet sweeps and wide receiver screens outside of running the ball. Still, DJ Durkin chose not to adjust his defensive scheme or rotation, and Florida was able to do whatever it wanted for both halves.
Auburn and LSU are the remaining SEC opponents left on A&M’s schedule. Like Florida, these teams have a strong rushing game, so the Aggies need to improve their game plan. At some point, Durkin has to trust his secondary and stack as many men as possible in the box. The aggressive calls used in past games such as Alabama and Arkansas will create more turnovers and allow the offense to work with better field position.
The Offense Needs Connor Weigman
To be abundantly clear, Haynes King was not at all the reason why the Aggies lost this game. The offensive line played well in the first half, but that unit’s mistakes led to no points in the second half. Devon Achane was apparently feeling under the weather, but he still finished with 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Evan Stewart and Moose Muhammad III continue to shine for A&M’s offense. Stewart has the opportunity to be one of the Aggies’ best all-time receivers. However, the main bright spot was Max Wright getting more involved in the offense on Saturday. He made some key catches on third down, and he should be utilized more during the rest of the season.
King’s two fumbles were no doubt costly, but it was up to Jimbo Fisher to adjust his playcalling so King would stop taking so many hits. Weigman is much better at processing his options quickly, and Fisher needs to understand the strengths of each of his players. Plays behind the line of scrimmage have not been working, so there’s no need to go for a game-changing moment when the offense is flowing well.
Again, tempo can make the Aggies much more consistent and dangerous on offense. It might’ve been difficult to implement against Florida due to the injured players, but it won’t hurt to try against Auburn with Weigman back. These next three games should be about getting Weigman familiarized with the offense and finding more playmakers.
Texas A&M has now lost five straight games, which is the first time since the 20th century. The Aggies have made a bowl appearance every year since 2008, but that will be a tough feat to accomplish this season. Next week, A&M needs to find a way to come out of Jordan-Hare Stadium with a win. Auburn is facing similar controversy as Texas A&M, so that matchup should be an interesting battle.