Aggies Aren't Who They Thought They Were

Offensive issues doom Texas A&M in Arkansas showdown

ARLINGTON – At some point, the streak against Arkansas was going to end.

Texas A&M never thought it would end like this.

The No. 7 Aggies were taken down by No. 16 Arkansas in the latest renewal of the Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium. The 20-10 statement win Saturday afternoon by the Razorbacks confirms their arrival as a team to be taken seriously in the SEC while opening up a load of questions for A&M.

The Aggies (3-1, 0-1) began this season with designs on a conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff after falling tantalizingly close a season ago. Instead, Texas A&M saw its nine-game winning streak against the Hogs end, as well as an 11-game unbeaten run.

The issues in the offensive line and with quarterback Zach Calzada were on full display in Jerry World. Running lanes were minimal, penalties piled up and the A&M continually found itself in third-and-forever.

It was clear to all that the Aggies aren’t who they thought they were.

They’re not playoff contenders – at least not this year. They’re not one of the top 10 teams in the land.

What the Aggies are is a work in progress. It's obvious the offensive line needs reps and experience. Calzada does, too. Careless mistakes and poor tackling need to be cleaned up.

The season, though, is hardy lost. A solid bowl and continued upward trend for the program remains in play.

“We’ve got to get better,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “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.”

The Hogs’ defense was extraordinary, clogging the line and locking down A&M’s receivers. The Aggies managed just 272 yards of total offense and never found a flow.

READ MORE: Aggies Stumble Against Arkansas 20-10

Calzada, making his second start at quarterback, wasn’t able to get the ball downfield and averaged a measly 4.2 yards per attempt. A lack of time in the pocket had a lot to do with him completing 20 of 36 passes for 151 yards and an interception.

Running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane didn't see much daylight, combining for just 119 yards on 17 carries.

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The A&M defense strong held after an early Arkansas barrage, but because of the offensive ineptitude, it meant little. The Aggies were kicked in the teeth early, falling behind by double-digits in the first quarter.

A glimmer of maroon hope appeared through the stadium’s massive windows in the third quarter, as Spiller sprinted 67 yards for a touchdown. 

Not only was it A&M’s first explosive play, the Aggies were back in the game down just 17-10 with plenty of game left. The Hogs also lost quarterback KJ Jefferson to injury in the third.

But the momentum never swung. There would be no Texas A&M rally.

The next two A&M possessions ended with a punt and interception, the latter setting up an Arkansas field goal.

“We had a whole quarter-and-a-half,” Fisher said. “That’s the disappointing thing.”

Arkansas (4-0, 1-0) completed an impressive Texas two-step against the Lone Star State’s two flagship programs. The Razorbacks ran over Texas 40-21, giving them a cumulative 60-31 victory over the Aggies and Longhorns.

Jefferson did just enough before exiting, connecting on a few big plays and keeping the chains moving with his feet. He passed for 212 yards and ran for another 50.

Arkansas seized control with scores on its first three possessions. The first drive ended with a 46-yard field goal and was followed by Jefferson’s 85-yard touchdown to Treylon Burks.

Poor tackling by the contributed mightily to the third score, as three Aggies did little more than breathe on AJ Green on his 48-yard catch-and-jaunt to the end zone.

"You never win a game in the first quarter, but you can put yourself behind the 8-ball," Fisher said, "and that's exactly what we did early in the game."

The Aggies aren't behind the 8-ball for the rest of the season, but they need a re-rack with much still on the table.  

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