Texas A&M football: Calzada making people forget he wasn't the Opening Day starter
As I watched Saturday’s game in progress, a funny thing happened. I forgot that Zach Calzada was Texas A&M’s 2nd-string quarterback coming into the season. It got pushed out of my consciousness that he lost the starting battle to Haynes King in the fall.
No, he didn’t light it up in Texas A&M’s 20-3 victory over Auburn. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass. In fact, there were no offensive touchdowns. Only defensive lineman Micheal Clemons found the end zone. His scoop and score early in the 4th quarter effectively put the game out of reach. It was his 1st career fumble recovery as well as his 1st career touchdown.
The game was reminiscent of 2010’s 9-6 victory over No. 9 Nebraska. That was the last time the Aggies won a game without scoring an offensive touchdown
What Calzada did do Saturday was to move the team up and down the field in an otherwise defensive battle. The Aggies’ offense, under Calzada’s direction, rolled up 409 total yards. It was Calzada and the Aggies’ 3rd consecutive 400-plus-yard game and 5th this season.
The Aggies did score on all 3 trips to the red zone, albeit via Seth Small field goals on each occasion, making him the program’s all-time leader in field goals (68). The Aggies have scored in 19 of their last 20 trips to the red zone.
Calzada threw for 192 yards on a pedestrian 15-for-29 night. But he took care of the ball, unlike counterpart Bo Nix, who coughed it up in a critical moment in the game, allowing Clemons to make his big play. Calzada did not throw an interception. He continues to mature into more than just a serviceable quarterback.
And hey, he now has a “first” under his belt. He’s the first Texas A&M quarterback to beat Auburn at Kyle Field. He’s also the quarterback for a team that beat both Alabama and Auburn in the same year. Beating those 2 in 1 year has happened only 5 times in the last 14 years.
Now, let’s not kid ourselves, Calzada won’t be confused with the Matt Corrals or Will Rogers of the conference. Calzada may or may not finish in the top 10 in the SEC in passing yardage. He has thrown for just 1,556.
But the way the defense is playing, he doesn’t have to be among the SEC’s passing leaders to be effective. The Aggies’ defense held Auburn to a season-low 226 total yards. It sacked Nix 4 times, 1 by Tyree Johnson, who has 7 over the last 4 games.
What Calzada has to be is exactly what he is trending toward — a solid and dependable triggerman for an emerging offense, led by a group of linemen who have found themselves and opened up a substantial running game.
With home run hitters in the backfield like Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane to hand the ball to, Calzada doesn’t need to lead the league in passing. Spiller logged his 16th 100-yard game on Saturday, while Achane eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for his career.
The Aggies don’t need Calzada to put the team on his shoulders. They need him to not make mistakes. They need him to continue to play with confidence and maturity. They need him to make people forget he was not the team’s Opening Day quarterback.
I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced.