STARKVILLE, Miss. — Here are three quick takes from 11th-ranked Texas A&M’s 28-14 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.
1. Defensive versatility: A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko typically uses man-to-man coverage, but the Aggies mostly stuck with zone coverages and a three-man front Saturday, substituting an extra defensive back for a defensive lineman. Following the blueprint that Kentucky put in place, the Aggies held the Bulldogs to 217 yards, including minus 2 rushing yards. When Elko called for more pressure, the Aggies brought down MSU quarterback K.J. Costello six times and forced an early interception.
2. Backs in the stable: Freshman Devon Achane showed A&M’s depth in the backfield as he helped carry the load in running out the clock. Starting running back Isaiah Spiller left the game in the fourth quarter a bit banged up after rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Ainias Smith and Achane combined for 11 carries and 53 yards in the fourth quarter as the Aggies successfully played keepaway with the Bulldogs. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said Spiller should be fine for A&M’s next game in two weeks, but the backfield is in good hands with Smith and Achane backing him up.
3. Quite the turnaround: A&M continued to play well after a lackluster win over Vanderbilt and a blowout at Alabama and now has aspirations for something greater than the Texas Bowl. A&M right tackle Carson Green even fielded the Aggies’ first question of the season regarding the College Football Playoff, but he respectfully punted it with talk of starting 0-0 each week and beating the hell out of “bye” in the days to follow.
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