Texas A&M football: Grading the Aggies' big win over Lamar
It wasn’t the smoothest effort, nor the most crisply played, but Texas A&M took care of business on Saturday, wearing down and wearing out Lamar 62-3 at Kyle Field.
The Aggies, simply superior in talent, performed admirably in what amounted to little more than a scrimmage leading up to the SEC opener next Saturday against Auburn at Kyle Field.
As might be expected, there was a lot to like about the victory. Here are but five things I liked, and three things I did not like about it.
1. Didn’t take Lamar lightly
The Aggies came out with a business-like approach, scoring on all five first-half possessions before taking a knee into halftime. They got on the scoreboard early and often, with an offense that methodically moved the football up and down the field. They did not allow Lamar to get into the game, using a strong defensive effort to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard at halftime.
2. Tandem RBs
Both Isaiah Spiller and Jacob Kibodi had their moments in the backfield. That was perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the victory, given the fact that starting RB Jashaun Corbin is lost for the season with a hamstring injury.
Spiller displayed big-play ability, busting loose for a 34-yard touchdown run and also scampering for a 38-yard gain. He finished with 116 yards rushing on 14 carries and two touchdowns, while Kibodi added a more steady 45 rushing yards on 11 carries.
3. Zach Calzada arm strength
On a couple of occasions he threw the ball through his receivers’ hands, but Calzada looked good in his first snaps at the college level. He completed his first college pass for a touchdown, 25 yards to tight end Jalen Wydermyer. Calzada completed 4 of 8 passes for 68 yards and two TDs and a 203.9 QB rating.
4. Pass defense
Perhaps overlooked in the victory was the encouraging fact that the Aggies’ pass defense allowed just 75 yards through the air. That’s the fewest given up since 2017, when the Aggies yielded 24 passing yards to New Mexico. It’s also a huge improvement for a pass defense that came into the game ranked 11th in the SEC, giving up an average of 239.5 passing yards per game.
The Aggies were able to clear the bench with the lopsided victory. Seven players scored touchdowns, and three players took snaps at quarterback. Getting as many players into the game surely had to be something head coach Jimbo Fisher was hoping for. And with the Aggies in control from the beginning, he was able to not only rest his starters — quarterback Kellen Mond played through three quarters — but in turn, keep them from injury.
I didn’t like
1. Dropped passes
Calzada zipped some passes through a couple of receivers’ hands, but Mond put a few tosses on the mark, and Aggies receivers simply did not make the catch. That’s not a concern if you’re playing Lamar, but it’s something that surely needs to be cleaned up before the gauntlet of the SEC schedule begins next Saturday.
2. Red-zone offense
On the first four trips into the red zone, the Aggies were twice forced to settle for field goals. Completing drives with touchdowns will be paramount against the better teams on the remaining schedule.
3. Mann punt
Yes, we’re getting pretty picky here. All-America punter Braden Mann had only one opportunity to punt on Saturday. It came in the fourth quarter, and Mann, who was averaging 44.3 yards per punt this season, was called on for a boot from the Cardinals 40-yard line. Mann pinned Lamar deep in its own territory, doing his job. However, the boot traveled just 35 yards, lowering the average of the nation’s top punter from last season.