Texas A&M football: 5 things I want to see vs. Prairie View
Many are describing this as “Cupcake Week” in the SEC with 6 conference teams playing inferior nonconference opponents in preparation for “Rivalry Week” to close the regular season.
Texas A&M welcomes in Prairie View on Saturday (11 a.m. local time kickoff) to Kyle Field. The Panthers are 7-2 and among the leaders in the SWAC with a 6-1 conference ledger. That’s the Aggies’ “cupcake” this week but with a dash of saltiness to it.
The Panthers have played Texas A&M only once with the Aggies coming away with a 67-0 victory in Kyle Field in 2016.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher shouldn’t have much trouble getting the attention of his team following a 29-19 loss on the road at Ole Miss last week. The Aggies should be seeking revenge for just their 3rd setback in 10 games this season.
Here are 5 things I’d like to see from the team on Saturday.
This shouldn’t be a problem after a conference loss last week. The Aggies should be breathing fire Saturday, looking to heal those emotional wounds. But it can be difficult sometimes to psyche yourself up for a lesser opponent after such a huge game.
Fisher’s biggest task this week will be to rev his team back up for a big showing on Saturday, because, as he says, “You’ve got to play all the time anywhere. If you get down anywhere, there’s too much talent out there. And especially with the transfer portals, you’re getting a lot of guys at this level of football that were really Division I players that left for different reasons. There’s players everywhere.”
2. Calzada touch
Now that we know how hard Zach Calzada can throw a football, let’s see him put some touch on his passes Saturday. Granted there’s a time for such fastballs, like threading the needle into tight SEC coverage. But that shouldn’t be necessary against the SWAC opponent.
I’d like to see some deep throws where placement is the priority rather than velocity. The opportunities should be plentiful Even the mid-range throws, and especially the short passes, It would be nice to see Calzada zip those attempts with the proper amount of mustard.
3. Offensive line pick up blitzes
Much like LSU, the Aggies’ following opponent, Prairie View likes to blitz, and that should provide some good practice for the Aggies’ upcoming opponent. The Panthers are allowing just 112.9 rushing yards per game so far. So that should give some incentive to the Aggies’ offensive line. And Isaiah Spiller, too. The Aggies’ leading rusher has eclipsed the 112-yard mark in 4 games this season.
The Texas A&M offensive line had been exceptional over the last month. It wasn’t bad on Saturday, but not quite up to the standards it had set. Getting back to its dominating ways and handling all that the Panthers will throw at it would be an encouraging sign for the final 2 games of the 2021 season.
4. Run defense return to dominance
It wasn’t pretty, Ole Miss rushed for 257 yards against the Aggies. It’s the most yielded by a defense that in 3 previous games allowed a total of 242 rushing yards. Returning to that dominating fashion will be key in the Aggies’ ability to put away this game early.
The Panthers average 180.2 yards on the ground per outing, but keeping them under 100 should be the goal here. The Aggies have held 5 opponents under the century mark this season. Adding another to the list would go a long way in notching the Aggies’ 8th victory in 2021.
5. Receivers break out – get open and catch the ball
Calzada has been on the receiving end of much of the blame for the lack of a passing game. The Aggies rank 10th in the SEC in passing offense. But his receivers haven’t exactly gone out of their way to help matters, either. Not separating from defenders or dropping passes, the Texas A&M receiving corps has been a sore spot this season.
It would be nice to see the group come through with a big game on Saturday. There are just so many times that Calzada can target Jalen Wydermyer and Ainias Smith. The two have combined for 75 of 176 total completions this season. It would be nice to have some of the other receivers in the group step forward and grab the headlines.