Texas A&M football: Aggies turn page as Weigman takes over at QB
We finally got to see the prize of Texas A&M’s 2022 recruiting class, the greatest since that aspect of college football has been graded. Quarterback Conner Weigman got his 1st start on Saturday, and in front of the usual raucous Kyle Field crowd. Though far from perfect, for the most part he did not disappoint.
Weigman tied the program’s freshman mark with 4 passing TDs in a game.
The fact that the Aggies did not win the game is no longer a concern. The fact that they didn’t score until the 4th quarter after reaching the end zone on their initial 2 drives is. The Aggies are 3-5 after their 4th consecutive loss — this one 31-28 to Ole Miss — in a season that has become little more than a rebuild centered around that historic class. The win-loss record is secondary at this point.
Sure, Weigman got a taste last week, his 1st at the collegiate level, coming in for the injured Haynes King and throwing for 91 yards on an 8-of-15 effort — no touchdowns, no interceptions. But that was just a tease, a preview of the upcoming show. On Saturday, he was handed the keys to the car.
Weigman stepped into the huddle for the 1st time as the Aggies’ starter and looked the part. There was no hesitation. Weigman commanded the huddle like a veteran, and the Aggies responded. They scored on their first 2 possessions, rolling over an Ole Miss defense that yielded 45 points to LSU the previous week.
Weigman completed his first 3 passes for 35 yards, including a 3-yard TD pass to Moose Muhammad III. It put a cap on a 77-yard drive in 8 plays. For an encore, Weigman drove the Aggies another 81 yards in 6 plays on their next possession. He was perfect again, completing all 3 attempts for 58 yards, including a 15-yard TD pass to fellow freshman Evan Stewart.
Weigman had the Aggies in the end zone twice before the Rebels’ defense could settle in and begin to devise some way to slow him down. Weigman looked like a freshman after that, however, as should be expected. But the moment was not too big for him.
For the most part, he provided a huge upgrade at the position and a spark to an offense that was 13th in the SEC with 342.7 yards per game and last with 21.9 points per game.
Weigman made the offense better, or at least watchable. He gave us the impression that there might be hope for moving the ball down the field after doing it with relative ease on those first 2 drives. I mean, he led the Aggies to 28 points, their largest output since posting 31 in the season opener against Sam Houston State.
Weigman worked hand-in-hand with RB Devon Achane, one of the most underrated backs in the game. As will happen, when the passing game is clicking, the run game can be effective. And with a talent like Achane in the backfield, it’s a matter of picking your poison if you are Aggies offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey.
In those first 2 drives — among the most impressive this season for Texas A&M — Achane contributed 26 yards on 5 carries on the 1st and 23 yards on 3 carries on the 2nd. He’s the perfect combination of speed and quickness. Undersized (5-9, 185) and undervalued on the national level, Achane teamed with Weigman on those initial efforts for what looked like the offense Aggieland had been starving for all year.
And when Weigman struggled, looking like a player making his 1st collegiate start, it was Achane who picked up the slack. The junior rushed for 141 yards on a career-high 25 carries. It was his 3rd 100-yard game of the season and 8th of his career, in addition to 3 games of 98 or 99 yards.
He took a beating, that’s for sure. In addition to his rushing stats, Achane tied his career high — set last week against South Carolina — with 7 pass receptions for 41 yards and 1 touchdown.
With experience, it is hoped that those first 2 drives will become the norm. For now, it’s a hit-or-miss proposition, as all are when led by newcomers. And yes, growing pains hurt, a lot.