Texas A&M's expectations were sky-high heading into 2021, and for good reason.
The team was returning one with the nation's top defensive units largely intact, and an offense full of playmakers at the skill positions.
However, there were still two major concerns with this team that were quite noticeable from day one -- A rebuilt offensive line, and no experience at the quarterback spot.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, both of those concerns turned into major issues from the opening kickoff of the season and ultimately doomed them against Arkansas on Saturday.
"We've got to get better," Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the loss. "We have to get guys playing with more consistency, and that's coaching. At the end of the day, you're coaching them. We have to be responsible for it. We have got to make sure we coach better, put them in better position to make plays."
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Obviously, inexperience at quarterback is a major detriment, just ask the Texas Longhorns, who threw a freshman into the fire against Arkansas in Week 2, and were humiliated as a result.
The Aggies are right in that same boat.
Following Haynes King's injury, Zach Calzada became the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future and has not performed well in the role thus far, completing 37 of 72 passes (51.4 percent) for 458 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions.
Calzada has also been sacked seven times. That comes out to a QBR of 42.7.
That said, the issues go well beyond Calzada's performances in the Colorado, New Mexico, or Arkansas games. They were there from Week 1, even with King under center.
Even in the 41-10 win over Kent State, King threw three interceptions, had a QBR of 51.4, and was sacked twice.
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Why? To put it simply, the offensive line has been a disaster.
"They pressured us. They did a good job of getting some pressure, making the ball get out, not giving guys time to get open on certain routes," Fisher said. "It takes time to get down there and get open down the field. Their pressure and some of the things they did there, we'll look and see and be able to get on it. So we'll have to fix that and try to get better."
Against Arkansas, the Aggies line allowed eight quarterback hurries, nine tackles for loss, and three sacks.
Against New Mexico -- a Mountain West bottom dweller -- the line allowed three sacks, four quarterback hurries, and five tackles for loss.
In Week 2 in Denver against Colorado, it was more of the same.
Sensing a trend?
Quarterbacks and coaching are the easy avenues of blame. But with four new offensive linemen, and their sole returning starter being moved around to different positions week-to-week based on matchups, any sort of cohesion is going to be hard to come by.
That didn't get it done against Group of 5 opponents, and it certainly won't get it done against SEC opponents.
The fact is, until Texas A&M gets their offensive line in order, any aspirations of a trip to Atlanta or a New Year's Six Bowl -- much less the College Football Playoff -- are going to have to wait.
"Yeah," Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller said. "We need to grow up real fast if we want to do what we want to do still."
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