Texas A&M: 5 bold predictions for New Mexico game
What a great time to have New Mexico show up on the schedule. With starting quarterback Haynes King out for several weeks with a foot injury, it’s Zach Calzada who will be under center for Texas A&M as he gets much needed reps prior to what shapes up to be another rigorous SEC schedule.
And what better opponent to have your QB get his feet wet than the Lobos. Or is it? Historically speaking this would be classified as a mail-it-in game. New Mexico hasn’t had a winning season since 2016 when it posted a 9-4 record under former head coach Bob Davies, including a New Mexico Bowl victory.
But are we seeing a new Lobos era under second-year head coach Danny Gonzales? New Mexico is 2-0 this year. That’s right, 2-0 for a team that hasn’t won more than 3 games in any season since that 2016 campaign. And you have to go all the way back to 2005 to find the last time New Mexico started the season 2-0. That year the Lobos won their first 3 games and that included a victory over Missouri (45-35) in Columbia.
So maybe this isn’t going to be the walk in the park everyone is expecting. Here are 5 bold predictions for Texas A&M as they return home on Saturday to take on New Mexico.
1. Two 100-yard rushers
With Calzada still working to make himself comfortable as the starting quarterback, don’t be surprised if coach Jimbo Fisher relies heavily on Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller to carry the mail. Why is this a bold statement? A couple of reasons. First, Texas A&M all but abandoned the run last week against Colorado. A week after rushing for 303 yards in the cupcake opener, the Aggies were held to 98 yards on 29 attempts. Second, the Lobos rank 9th in the country against the run, allowing opponents an average of only 50 rushing yards per game. So putting not 1, but 2 RBs over the century mark against those numbers would have to be considered an accomplishment.
2. Aggies stuff Lobos’ run game
This might not seem like the boldest of predictions, but when you consider Kent State ran relatively wild (226 rushing yards) on the Aggies in the opener, maybe it’s more out there than one might initially consider. The Aggies improved a bit last week, but Colorado still ran for 171 yards. Overall, Texas A&M ranks 13th in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing almost 200 yards per game. New Mexico is averaging 156 yards rushing per game on 43 attempts. Admittedly, New Mexico isn’t running on SEC defenses. So let’s look for the Aggies to take another step forward Saturday and hold the Lobos to under 100 rushing yards.
3. Aggies double Lobos in time of possession
Texas A&M is known for its ball-control offense under Fisher. The Aggies held slight edges over the opposition in that department over the first 2 games, holding a 3-minute advantage over Colorado after possessing the ball for nearly 11 minutes more than Kent State. Why is this a bold prediction? Because for the Aggies to double the Lobos possession minutes it would mean they would have to hold the ball for 20 full minutes or more than their visitors Saturday. That’s hard to do, but the Aggies will find a way.
4. Shemar Turner sacks New Mexico
The freshman continues a sensational freshman season in the trenches. The highly-touted recruit from DeSoto is making the most of his opportunities when called upon. In limited playing time, he already leads the team with 1.5 sacks. On Saturday, he adds to that total, probably late in the game when the Lobos are forced to throw. Look for Turner to get 1 and possibly 2 more sacks on Saturday. He’s going to be special.
5. Calzada posts his first 300-yard passing game
Well, let’s see, if my math is correct that would make 2 100-yard rushers and a 300-yard passer. Now I was never fortunate enough to experience the new math they taught, but by old school arithmetic that would add up to a minimum of 500 total yards of offense. Yep, checks out. While the ground game opens up everything else, Calzada has a career-day and surpasses the 300-yard mark. He did throw for 207 last week against Colorado, and considering the Lobos gave up 236 passing yards to New Mexico State last week, it seems doable, especially if he doesn’t wait until the fourth quarter to come out of his shell.