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Texas A&M Football: Welcome to the Zach Calzada Era

Jimbo Fisher believes in and feels comfortable with Zach Calzada

COLLEGE STATION -- Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher told reporters Saturday after a 10-7 win against Colorado that redshirt sophomore Zach Calzada just needed time at quarterback.

He has six days, and the clock is now ticking. No. 20 Arkansas is waiting in two weeks at AT&T Stadium, and games there have been a challenge for years no matter the record entering the day. 

Redshirt freshman Haynes King now is expected to be out for an extended period after undergoing surgery Sunday to repair a broken tibia on his right leg. King left after the second drive and needed help from A&M's training staff back into the locker room. 

"I'm not a doctor and I'm not gonna say when," Fisher said Monday on King's return. "When you heal, you heal. When you're healed, you're healed and we would never play him before in any way, shape or form before that." 

There's no denying it. This is Calzada's team now. 

It's time to see what he's got as QB1. 

READ MORE: Jimbo Fisher Confirms QB Haynes King Out Multiple Weeks With Injury

"I feel very comfortable with him doing things, especially watching him," Fisher said. "The character he grew up within that football game to come back and make the plays he had to make for us to have a chance to win, I'm very proud of him."  

Calzada's first real taste with the first team had its downs and ups. The Georgia native finished the first half leading the Aggies to only one first down on a drive that ended with a 26-yard field goal from Seth Small. 

The final two drives are where fans hope Calzada be consistently. Showing more than just being a standard pocket-passer, he used his legs to nearly score on a 13-yard scramble that would have given the Aggies the lead. 

Calzada, on further review, lost the ball just before breaking the plane. It resulted in a fumble recovered by the Buffaloes and a touchback. 

The next drive? Much of the same with a better end. Once again on third down, Calzada connected twice with running back Isaiah Spiller, including a game-winning 18-yard touchdown.

That finishing version of Calzada is what A&M's offense needs going into SEC play. And even more so if the Aggies hope to remain a College Football Playoff contender.

READ MORE: Calzada Realized He Had To Do It

"As you saw towards the end of the game, his composure was unbelievable. He made some massive plays," punter Nick Constantinou said. "I think for Zach, he's a very, very talented human being. When he gets more game reps, I think he'll be unstoppable."

A two-year starter in high school, Calzada finished his career with 3,435 passing yards and 29 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. He also added another 11 scores rushing. 

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He put his legs to good use against Colorado with 28 yards on seven runs, including a 12-yarder to keep a drive alive on third down.

"He made a heck of a run to get to the 1-yard line," Fisher said. "He made a guy miss, he made a [long] run, he made a scramble on the big first down. He kept plays alive."  

Of course, no one cares about just one drive. It's about several, especially the ones leading to points. 

Fisher certainly would like to see a more consistent run game going forward to take pressure off Calzada. The Aggies ran 69 plays in Denver — 29 of which came on the ground for a total of 97 yards. 

Compare that to Week 1 against Kent State where the rushing attack was A&M's bread and butter. Devon Achane led the way 124 yards and two scores, while Spiller rushed for 113 of the team's 303 total. 

READ MORE: SEC Power Rankings: Hogs Make Big Statement

Against the Buffaloes, Achane only tallied 50 yards. Spiller gained just 20. 

The Aggies return to Kyle Field on Saturday to face New Mexico in what should be a tune-up before the trip to Jerry World to face the Hogs. Five of the six meetings in Arlington as SEC foes have been decided a touchdown or less.

Arkansas recently handled business against A&M's in-state rival Texas with ease. Part of the season for the Horns' struggles? Inconsistent quarterback play. 

Defensively, Calzada should have a cushion. The Wrecking Crew 2.0 held Colorado to two first downs and 57 yards in the second half. They also pressured Buffs QB Brendon Lewis left and right throughout the final 30 minutes. 

"Offense knows we got their back," defensive back Antonio Johnson said. "There's going to be some games where we struggle and there are some games where the offense struggles. 

"We have to be able to be there for each other and that's what we did." 

Maybe Fisher trusts the run over the pass? Perhaps the defense forces enough takeaways to ease Calzada through 60 minutes of action Saturday afternoon. 

At some point, however, Calzada will need to show he can be the guy. It starts now. 


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