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Texas A&M Aggies Youth Movement In Full Swing Against UMass

Fiftteen total freshmen saw action in Texas A&M's win over the Minutemen.

COLLEGE STATION -- It was supposed to be considered a cupcake game. Instead, the Texas A&M Aggies nearly choked away its best shot at ending its six-game losing streak due to inclement weather and injuries. 

Texas A&M picked up its first win since Sept. 24 in a 20-3 victory over Massachusetts at Kyle Field. The play-calling was far from stellar. The on-field play lacked passion and grit from players following Randy Bond's first-quarter field goal.

So, what can fans take away from Saturday's underwhelming win? The youth movement is in full effect. It might be the one thing Texas A&M (4-7, 1-6 SEC) fans can hold their hat on entering the offseason. 

The Aggies started four freshmen on offense and four on defense. That number could have been higher, but receiver Evan Stewart was ruled out prior to kickoff with an undisclosed injury. 

Stewart's absence opened the door for fellow freshman Noah Thomas to expand his rep count. During the second quarter, quarterback Conner Weigman connected with Thomas for a 22-yard touchdown to take a 10-3 lead. 

Thomas finished with two catches for 40 yards. Fellow freshman tight end Donovan Green totaled three catches for 27 yards.

Stewart was one of the key pieces missing from the blistering cold temperatures found in Aggieland. Running back Devon Achane (foot) was ruled out for a second consecutive game after further evaluation. 

Achane returned to practice for the first time Thursday since sustaining the injury in Week 10's 42-24 loss to Florida. The junior suited up during pregame drills, but after further testing, he elected to sit in hopes of playing in the team's season finale against No. 6 LSU. 

“It didn’t feel quite right,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He came out there today and said he wanted to try again today to see what it felt like pregame, and it didn’t ... there’s no sense to press that." 

Freshman running back Le'Veon Moss became the focal point of a limited run game, along with sophomore Amari Daniels. Moss, a native of Louisiana, finally found a crease against the Minutemen's front seven in the fourth quarter for a game-sealing 12-yard touchdown. 

Moss finished with a team-high 78 yards on 12 carries and the touchdown. Daniels ran for 67 yards on 17 carries.

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"You can see Le'Veon is explosive," Fisher said. "He's going to be a really good player. Noah made good plays. I thought Amari Daniels ran the football very well. Those young guys are going to be really good players." 

Weigman finished 11-of-19 passing for 191 yards and a touchdown. Kam Dewberry made his second career start at left guard. Defensively, five true freshmen saw at least 15 snaps, including 22 from Walter Nolen and 32 from LT Overton. 

"Conner did a really nice job in the game,” Fisher said. “Did a great job with his legs, making decisions, making plays early in the game, win the field position. You can see he’s athletic and can run."

Fisher said the hope was to have Stewart back for Saturday's matchup against the Tigers (9-2, 6-1 SEC). The same could be said for Achane, who intends to mull over his options this offseason in terms of going pro. 

Even with the youthful approach in full swing, the Aggies will need to be flawless if they hope to pull off the upset at home. Crowd noise should help factor into Texas A&M's success, though attendance was scarce even before kickoff for Senior Day. 

Fisher said he was certain the harsh weather conditions played a factor in the season-low numbers from The 12th Man faithful and would expect Kyle Field to be packed to the brim one more time in a lost season. 

"They’ll be packed out here next week for the things that go on when we play LSU,” Fisher said. “I’m sure they will be here.”

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. 


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