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Texas A&M's Race To SEC West Title: A Stable Offensive Line

A&M's offensive line must play more consistent in the trenches

COLLEGE STATION -- The best friends of a quarterback are not the weapons in the backfield or on the outside. It's the five men up front. 

So far, those friends haven't been too friendly for Texas A&M. The Aggies' offensive line has been the problem. Even Jimbo Fisher can admit there are things that must be corrected in the trenches as SEC play is set to begin. 

“It’s just technique things, little things,” the A&M head coach said Monday. 

For the No. 7 Aggies, offensive line woes go beyond pass protection. With four new starters and veteran Kenyon Green being the chess piece of the bunch, the run game has suffered compared to last season.

READ MORE: Aggies Face Toughest Test With Arkansas' KJ Jefferson

Last season, the Aggies were dynamic moving the ball on the ground. Isaiah Spiller surpassed 1,000 yards and Devon Achane was a threat every time he touched the ball.

Texas A&M averaged 205.2 yards per game rushing despite playing SEC teams in nine out of 10 games.

Now, No. 7 A&M (3-0) only is averaging 185 yards per outing. Maintaining a balanced attack with a strong run game might be the key in taking down No. 16 Arkansas (3-0) in Arlington. 

That is if the offensive line can hold a block. 

"We just have to work on the details," Achane said. "Just to fix the little things. At the end of the day, they're a great group of guys." 

Last week in a 34-0 victory, A&M was down a starter up front. With freshman offensive guard Layden Robinson, Fisher moved All-American Green from tackle back inside. 

READ MORE: No. 7 Texas A&M rolls In Calzada's first start

Sophomore Blake Trainor saw the most reps at Green's right tackle spot, while freshman Reuben Fatheree took reps on both sides. Neither was perfect, but it was enough to help quarterback Zach Calzada finish with a 275-yard, three-touchdown performance. 

A&M's in-state rival Texas traveled to Fayetteville and watched its offensive line get swallowed by a sea of red jerseys. Heisman hopeful Bijan Robinson averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and the Horns managed a mere 138 yards. 

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That was a veteran Texas offensive front, with four of the five lineman having started for at least two seasons. 

The Aggies don't have that kind of experience.

“It’s just small, minuscule adjustments,” Fisher said of his unit. “That cohesiveness, we’ve just got to find and grind to.” 

Green will be the lone starter who has faced Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom's front seven before. Depending on Fisher's decision at left tackle with Jahmir Johnson and Fatheree, the Aggies could have four freshmen starting with Robinson, center Bryce Foster and guard Aki Ogunbiyi. 

It's a good thing the young names are facing one of the toughest defensive fronts on a daily basis in practice. A&M's defense is allowing an average of 5.7 points per game. 

READ MORE: Aggies' defense appears dominant, but is it ready?

They also haven't allowed a touchdown since the first quarter against Colorado in Week 2. 

“We go ‘good on good’ during the week,” Fisher said. “We’ve got that two or three days a week where they’re blocking (starters), not just blocking scout team guys. We work on fundamentals to death. We pound them on the fundamentals as part of it."

Fisher has said before that he's going to play those that give the Aggies that best chance to win. If that's four freshmen on the line, so be it.

"Just do your part," Achane said. "Their group is special, so I feel for the freshman it's time for their opportunity to step up." 

READ MORE: Young Playmakers Make Impact In Texas A&M Victory Over New Mexico


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