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CESSNA: Zach Calzada can be a success if he gets help

CESSNA: Zach Calzada can be a success if he gets help

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Haynes King showed why he was named Texas A&M’s starting quarterback for the season opener, and now Zach Calzada gets a chance to show how close it came to being him.

King was as good as advertised in a 41-10 season-opening victory over Kent State with several dazzling plays en route to 314 total yards. The team’s most inexperienced position wouldn’t be a liability, it would be an asset. The offense and team seemed primed to do great things with King, but that thought is on hold because King fractured the right tibia just above his ankle.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher wouldn’t speculate on how long King will be gone, but it probably will be at least 4-6 weeks, based on past injuries of that type. Whether it’s three, four or seven weeks, Calzada will have to play well for the seventh-ranked Aggies to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive considering they play 20th-ranked Arkansas next week and defending national champ Alabama in less than a month.

Calzada has the talent to be successful and showed it in leading the Aggies to a come-from-behind 10-7 victory over Colorado on Saturday. Calzada struggled mightily through three quarters, which was understandable since he didn’t get any playing time last season and probably received few snaps with the first team after King was named starter.

Calzada, after working off the rust, was 8-of-14 passing for 118 yards in the fourth quarter. He showed great moxie after fumbling away the potential go-ahead touchdown by coming back with an 11-play, 77-yard game-winning drive. Calzada, who has a powerful right arm, showed great touch on an 18-yard touchdown pass to running back Isaiah Spiller.

“I feel very comfortable with both guys,” Fisher said after naming King the starter over Calzada. “I think both guys can win and play well.”

Watch now as Jimbo Fisher discusses Haynes King’s injury and more.

Calzada will get the lion’s share of the attention in the next few weeks, but the focus should be on the offensive line and wide receivers. If the offensive line doesn’t do its job, Calzada and the receivers are going to have a tough time. The biggest reason A&M’s offense struggled for three quarters Saturday was Colorado’s front seven. That’s a concern moving forward. The line will have to be better to win in the Southeastern Conference. Calzada isn’t a statue, but he doesn’t have King’s wheels. Defenses will devise different schemes to put added pressure on Calzada, looking for him to make mistakes.

These next few weeks is not so much about Calzada, but those around him stepping up, starting with the offensive line. Think back to last year. Quarterback Kellen Mond had by far his best season. Not surprising, the offensive line was outstanding and so were the running backs.

The focus the last few days has been on the guy under center, but it should be on the actual center and the two guys on each side of him.

The Texas A&M-Arkansas football game on Sept. 25 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington will kick at 2:30 p.m. and be televised by CBS.

Both teams are 2-0 with the Aggies ranked seventh by the Associated Press and fifth by the coaches. Arkansas is 20th by AP and 24th by the coaches.

A&M senior defensive tackle Jayden Peevy was named the Southeastern Conference lineman of the week after coming up with an interception and seven tackles in a 10-7 victory over Colorado.

Peevy had two tackles for loss and broke up a pass. Peevy also was involved in back-to-back tackles for no gain at the A&M 5 as Colorado turned the ball over on downs, failing to add to a 7-0 lead.

A&M’s defense, which had a great effort at Colorado, is getting back sophomore tackle McKinnley Jackson who missed the first two games for off-the-field issues.

Graduate cornerback Myles Jones, who has been out with an injury, also is back practicing. Jones’ 29 career starts leads the team.

Robert Cessna’s email address is robert.cessna@theeagle.com.

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