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To Win at Texas A&M, Trust the Run Game

Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller might be the nation's best 1-2 backfield combination

COLLEGE STATION -- Texas A&M's Jalen Wydermyer wanted to see more downfield plays on Saturday night against Kent State. Then again, when a rushing attack is that potent, why change things up? 

"We didn't want to try to fix anything that wasn't broken," Wydermyer said Monday. "We kept running the ball and with all the turnovers and stuff, we just kept it simple."

Texas A&M's 41-10 victory over Kent State kicked off the new season on a positive note. It's a different era of Aggie football, one where a shot at the SEC title is expected. 

The No. 6 Aggies (1-0) will hit the road to face former Big 12 rival Colorado (1-0) on Saturday. Haynes King, the team's new starting quarterback, will not only have to play in altitude, but has to put his three-turnover outing against the Golden Flashes behind him. 

READ MORE: SEC Power Rankings: Where does league stand after Week 1?

A&M coach Jimbo Fisher always is looking forward, despite the positives and negatives of the game before. It's a good thing the run game picked up in the opener where it left off at the Orange Bowl against North Carolina. 

"I think Isaiah Spiller played an outstanding game" Fisher said Monday of the team's 2020 leading rusher. "Ran the football well, caught the football well. Just a couple things. He's becoming such a complete back." 

Spiller hit a milestone with his second carry of the game, becoming the 21st member of the 2,000-yard career rushing club. That was just the start of the night ahead. 

Spiller finished with 113 yards off 17 carries, an average 6.6 yards per play. Fisher also credited Smith's blocking skills as a reason for King staying comfortable in the pocket when the pressure came. 

"There were a couple of blitzes where he stepped up and put his nose right in the middle of guys," Fisher said of Smith. "I mean, secured the pocket. We did a really good job of doing that." 

READ MORE: Aggies add key defensive player before Colorado

Spiller is the leader of the backfield, but the not only one looking to go to reach 1,000 yards this season. Devon Achane led the team in yards (124) on less carries (12) and showed off that track speed in the closing minutes of the third quarter with a 63-yard touchdown run. 

Fans likely had flashbacks of Achane's 76-yard run against the Tar Heels to seal the Orange Bowl victory. Achane is just glad his performance wasn't a one-game wonder. 

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"I didn't want to have a rough game as my first game," Achane said. "I was basically good and I felt a little better that a I had a good game. I gotta thank my o-line and the offense for having a big part of that." 

Achane's home run-caliber speed is a compliment to Spiller's bulldozing demeanor. They talk after practice and spend time off to the side, helping each other enhance their weak points and flaws. 

Achane says Spiller has helped him become better picking up blitzes and finding proper hand placement on a linebacker. In return, Achane acts as a second pair of eyes from the sideline, looking for running avenues that Spiller could hit faster. 

READ MORE: Previewing Texas A&M vs. Colorado

"We're always with each other," Achane said. "We compliment each other and tell one another what we need to do." 

A&M was one of three teams in the SEC in Week 1 that finished with more than 200 yards in both passing and rushing, joining Auburn and Missouri on their way to a win. The difference? Turnovers

Auburn's Bo Nix was near flawless against Akron. The same could be said on Mizzou's Connor Bazelak against Central Michigan. 

The Aggies enter Saturday just outside the top 10 in rushing in the country. With the altitude helping throws travel further, perhaps Fisher tests out King's accuracy vertically. He'll have deep threats in Caleb Chapman, Demond Demas and even Wydermyer. 

One errant pass could lead to a turnover, thus throwing King off his rhythm. If that's the case, Fisher could always go back to a four-man rushing attack to control the clock and get in the red zone. 

It worked at home, why wouldn't it work on the road? 

Said Wydermyer: "If it's not broken, don't try to fix it." 


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