Don’t worry. There’s still time. Plenty of room is available.

Anyone who wants to hop aboard the Bobby Petrino-A&M offensive bandwagon is more than welcome to do so now. Alternatively, skeptics can join after this weekend when the Aggies go into Miami and put on an offensive clinic.

Either way, the bandwagon is about to get crowded. Might as well find a seat.

That take isn’t based entirely on scoring a bunch of points against New Mexico, but it did serve as a reminder of why this thing should work if Petrino really gets to do his thing instead of watching a frustrated Jimbo Fisher shuffle 15 play sheets.

A&M’s issue was never about talent, or even really the development of that talent. It’s been schematic. The criticism of Fisher’s offense was that it wasn’t complicated enough pre-snap and it was too complicated post-snap. At no point in watching Petrino’s debut — albeit in a favorable matchup against a New Mexico defense that allowed 7.6 yards per attempt last season — did it look like A&M was getting in its way.

The Aggies ran 63 offensive plays that went for 411 yards (6.5 yards/play) and 7 touchdowns. The Conner Weigman-led attack was efficient, and perhaps of equal importance, it was explosive. A&M had 5 passing plays of 20 yards, which might not sound like a ton, but look at the combined numbers from the past 2 seasons:

  • 70 passes of 20 yards (No. 13 in SEC)
  • 24 passes of 30 yards (No. 13 in SEC)
  • 8 passes of 40 yards (No. 14 in SEC)

No, A&M didn’t have a pass of 40 yards yet, but Weigman had touchdown passes of 35 and 34 yards. They were actual downfield shots, too. Weigman’s 35-yard strike to Evan Stewart was a 42-yard throw that came off a play-action pass from under center. His next touchdown pass to Noah Thomas, who had 3 scores on the day, also traveled 42 yards through the air for 6. That one came out of a shotgun set wherein Weigman worked back to Thomas in single coverage downfield.

Three of Weigman’s scores came in shotgun and 2 came off play-action under center. Consider that a nice blending of Fisher and Petrino’s styles. Versatile? Yep. Dynamic? Oh yeah. Hence, why A&M had a 28-point second quarter in Petrino’s debut.

Remember, this is the same A&M squad that had a 13-game streak without scoring more than 28 points against FBS competition. That 2021-22 drought ended against LSU in last year’s regular-season finale, but much was made about the willingness that night to embrace tempo and pre-snap motion while also disguising personnel with 2-back sets. TruMedia reported that A&M only used “22” personnel (2 running backs, 2 tight ends) in 4 games last year, and go figure that Miami was one of them (H/T The Athletic).

In last year’s Miami-A&M matchup, 8 of the 10 completed A&M passes and all but 24 of the passing yards went to running back Devon Achane and slot receiver Ainias Smith. The biggest passing play of the night went to Achane in the flat, who proceeded to break 4 tackles en route to a 25-yard touchdown that was much more “run” than “catch.”

A&M’s offensive attack will be more diverse this time compared to last year’s 17-9 rock fight in College Station. That we know. We also know that Miami was No. 121 in FBS last year with 8.3 yards/pass attempt allowed, and the Canes were gashed for 15 passing plays of 40 yards, which was the worst among all Power 5 teams.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Miami also could benefit from a coordinator change after Kevin Steele left for Alabama. There’s hope that a group that returned 73% of last year’s defensive production (No. 22 in FBS) should be improved under new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry, who led Marshall to the best 3rd-down defense in FBS last season. It was the No. 2 defensive 3rd-down conversion rate (23.5%) of any FBS team in the past 2 decades, according to The Athletic.

A&M will want to avoid 3rd-and-long scenarios, but the Petrino version of this offense is much better suited to convert than last season when the Aggies converted just 11 out of 60 times (18%) when throwing on 3rd downs of 7 yards or longer. Obvious passing downs aren’t the friend of a predictable offense. In Petrino’s debut, however, Weigman’s instances of 3rd-and-7 or longer went:

  • 3rd-and-9: 14-yard completion to Jahdae Walker
  • 3rd-and-7: Sack
  • 3rd-and-8: 8-yard touchdown pass to Evan Stewart

On that 3rd-and-8 touchdown pass to Stewart, A&M ran the same exact play on 2nd down, but Weigman put a little too much air under the throw and it allowed the New Mexico defensive back to make up ground. On 3rd down, Weigman adjusted to flatten out the throw, and Stewart did the rest on a corner route in single coverage.

When you have an effective scheme with skill talent A&M has, you can do stuff like that. It’s all about finding the mismatches and exploiting them. A&M has so much more potential to do that with Petrino at the controls.

That’s going to be on display against every team that lines up across from the Aggies in 2023. That includes Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Time will tell if Petrino and Fisher can coexist for multiple years. Nobody would be surprised if those big personalities clashed at some point. And sure, it’s possible that the Canes do enough to prevent the A&M offense from running wild and they pull out a home victory. But what’ll be evident by day’s end — win or lose — is that Petrino was the right person to unlock the Aggies’ offensive attack.

Prepare to hop aboard the bandwagon.