The Miami Hurricanes will head to College Station, TX to face the Texas A&M Aggies on September 17th, at 9pm on ESPN. This is only the third time Miami and TAMU have faced off, with Miami holding a 2-1 lead. The first edition of the matchup was a blowout in A&M’s favor in 1944. Then a home-and-home series in 2007 and 2008, where the ‘Canes took both games in the series.
Info: Miami @ Texas A&M (College Station, TX)
Day/Time/Channel: Sept., 17, 2022 / 9pm / ESPN
Under head coach Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M has been a disappointment if you look at his wins per millions of dollars ratio. Fisher is making a small fortune to have “ranches” while compiling a 21-12 record in the SEC. The Aggies are 3-0 in bowl games, including the Orange Bowl and a 4th place finish in the polls in 2020.
But after the COVID season in ‘20, Fisher’s Aggies slipped back to reality and another four loss season while finishing the season ranked 25th in the nation.
2021 Record: 8-4 (4-4 in the SEC)
Bowl Game: Gator Bowl (Withdrew due to COVID)
“I remember that guy!”
The TAMU flashback player is Leeland McElroy. McElroy, a former Aggies running back from 1993-1995, was a 2nd round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 1996 NFL Draft. While an Aggie McElroy ran for 2442 yards 29 touchdowns while catching seven more TD’s. McElroy also returned four kickoffs for scores and averaged an eye popping 36.6 yards per return. McElroy ran through the SWC in his final season at TAMU, and was a Heisman Trophy candidate before declaring early for the NFL.
Data & Personnel
Texas A&M heads into the 2022 season as the SP+ projected 8th best team in the country.
SP+ Projection Overall: 8 (Miami 14)
SP+ Proj. Offense: 36 (Miami 21)
SP+ Proj. Defense: 6 (Miami 23)
The Athlon Sports SEC All-Conference preseason team has been released, and there are a dozen Aggies on the list. The first team offense features offensive guard Layden Robinson. Robinson who started at right guard for Texas A&M, made the All-SEC 2nd team in ‘21.
The first team defense also saw one Aggie make the cut, safety Antonio Johnson. Johnson is a star having logged 79 stops with 8.5 for a loss and five PBU’s as a sophomore last year.
TAMU is also strong in the kicking game. The Aggies had their punter, Nik Constantinou, and punt returner, Ainias Smith make the first team, too. Constantinou averaged 46.6 yards per punt a year ago, while Smith averaged 11.3 yards per punt return with a TD.
Smith also made the 2nd team offense along with RB Devon Achane. Smith caught six TD’s while Achane had over 1100 yards from scrimmage and 10 TD’s in ‘21.
Aggies center Bryce Foster made the 3rd team offense, while defensive lineman McKinley Jackson, and defensive backs Tyreek Chappell and Demani Richardson also made the cut.
Jackson logged 14 tackles last year, while Chappell and Richardson combined to make 14 PBU’s and two interceptions a year ago.
Aggies scheme on O
Let’s start first with... uh... who will the Aggie’s starting QB be in 2022? Zach Calzada is at Auburn, so the potential starters are Haynes King, Max Johnson, or all-star true freshman Conner Weigman.
King was the starter in ‘21 before an injured ankle early and is more of a ‘dual-threat’ type of QB. If King is behind center, the offense can be extremely varied which could cause issues for Miami and their lack of a true pass rusher.
Johnson was LSU’s starter in ‘21 and is a good-but-not-great pocket passer. Johnson threw 27 TD’s with just six picks a year ago for the Tigers. Weigman was the Justin Fields to Clemson QB Cade Klubnik’s Trevor Lawrence. Weigman Weigman is mobile but not the type to take over the game with his legs.
All that said, I’m going to guess Johnson gets the nod purely on, well, a guess. Fisher likes his 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) NFL style offense and a pro style QB to guide that offense.
Above- I say Jimbo likes 11, and that’s his base, but he’ll run some 12 personnel (one RB, two TE’s), too.
Above- Here’s the thing about Jimbo, obviously he knows how to find the weakness in a defense. He hits this spacing type sit down from the TE here. And later he’s hitting 5 yard outs when Ole Miss takes away the slants, glances, and this spacing. But his QB’s mechanics are so piss poor that the throws are high and late which lets Ole Miss rally and leads to a ton of drops and PBU’s.
Above- Here’s an example of back foot bad mechanics. For a “QB Guru” Fisher hasn’t developed anyone to write home to mom about since Winston in 2013-2014.
Above- As bad as A&M’s offense looked against Ole Miss in this matchup, their backs ran hard all night. You’re not going to get guys in the SEC West who go down easy. These rosters are acquired and developed to compete with Alabama.
Above- This has to be a familiar scene to Miami fans. In the gun running a zone play 4-yards deep in your own end zone where the back dances for a safety. Both Lane and Jimbo got Lashlee’d in this game.
Aggies scheme on D
The Aggies run a 4-2-5 defense that typically has three down linemen and a stand-up edge type of pass rusher. I think Miami will bump into this type of look at times, too, but will be a 3-4 at heart.
I used All-22 film from Texas A&M at Ole Miss in ‘21 to breakdown the Aggies defense.
Above- The first point of emphasis is how damn athletic SEC players are over the ACC opponents Miami is used to. This ain’t Duke or that pesky App State that just does things to people. This is Texas A&M and their Blue Chip Ratio roster.
Above- It giveth, then it taketh away. GH Counter works, until the Aggies adjust. Lane tried to dial up the same play back to back with tempo that had just worked, these defenders are so athletic and have such NFL-bound-football IQ that it wasn’t working for him quite like when he had superior talent over the conference like at Alabama or FAU.
Above- Inside zone is taken away? Lane hits the RPO. If you wonder why RPO’s work (and we’ll get to their weaknesses later) it’s because it is really hard to take that many ‘options’ away from an offense. Lane RPO’d the Aggies to death and Jimbo’s outdated offense was smothered by Ole Miss.
Above- Ole Miss beats A&M to the outside in a ‘fool me once’ scenario. Then the Aggies start to own the outside run lanes and the flats.
Above- Eventually the nail in the coffin TD is hit inside, with A&M caught in a “Manny” with no inside run support.
Above- What works? Lane caught Jimbo’s defense in a 1-high look and hit them with the shoulder shrug on two seams. One overhang failed to jam and re-route so the slot came free.
Above- The crossing route is open, but the QB puts it behind his man. You can’t do that against these elite teams. What UVA or Duke will allow the Aggies will not.
Above- Lane got Lashlee’d down at the goal. He tried a couple of inside zone reads before the Mallory TE slide which A&M sniffed out and took down. They’re fast-fast-fast in College Station.
Canyonero keys to victory
1- The Aggies might have to split reps between QB’s before this game, which could set them behind the typical timetable by Week 3. The instability behind center for TAMU could be what the doctor ordered via Life Wallet for a Miami front 6-7 that won’t have much experience working together.
2- Be improved in the kicking game. Texas A&M had a strong kicking game in ‘21 per the SP+. Thankfully Jonathan Patke is long gone but Miami will have to learn how to cover kicks in a hurry before flying to College Station.
3- Protect the QB. This can’t look like Alabama ‘21 part deux. TAMU is going to have an aggressive D-Line and they’ll attempt to feast on what was a weakness at The U prior to Mario Cristobal’s arrival.
Way too early prediction: Aggies by 3.