Alabama Football: Texas A&M Aggies Offensive Preview

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football will take on the Aggies of Texas A&M in a highly anticipated SEC West matchup this weekend. The Aggies come to Tuscaloosa with a 3-2 record, having narrowly defeated Arkansas before being blown out by Mississippi State in SEC play.

Jimbo Fisher’s A&M offense has been anemic to say the least. The Aggies have scored just 21.8 points per game in their first five outings, ranking 108th nationally. Their 335 yards of total offense per game ranks 105th.

Alabama Football: Defending the run

Despite the running game being the relative strength of this offense, Texas A&M ranks just 98th in the country in rushing yards per game at 129.6.

Speedster Devon Achane has accounted for nearly all of that production. Achane has run for 466 yards and three touchdowns so far this season on 5.8 yards per carry. As a team, A&M has just 655 yards rushing through five games, meaning Achane is responsible for over 70 percent of the Aggie rushing attack. The second and third leading rushers are quarterbacks Haynes King and Max Johnson, with 66 and 61 yards respectively. The second-most utilized running back behind Achane is true freshman L.J. Johnson, who has just nine carries for 39 yards.

The Aggies should not expect to fare well against the nation’s second best run defense in terms of yards per carry. A&M is averaging a subpar 4.4 yards per carry for the season, and Alabama football allows just 2.3 yards per carry. The Tide has posted this impressive figure despite playing Arkansas, a top-10 rushing offense, and Texas, who features arguably the best running back in the nation.

Alabama Football: Defending the pass

The Aggie quarterback situation has been a disaster to this point. A&M has thrown for just 205.4 yards per game (101st), and even this number is drastically skewed by its 387-yard performance in week one against FCS Sam Houston State. Against FBS competition, A&M is averaging just 160 passing yards per game. This figure would rank 118th in the nation, ahead of just 13 teams including the option-oriented service academies.

Redshirt sophomore Haynes King earned the start coming out of fall camp. Despite throwing for 364 yards and three touchdowns against Sam Houston State, he also threw two interceptions. The following week, he had an abysmal day as the Aggies were upset by Appalachian State. King completed 13 of 20 passes for just 97 yards in the game (4.85 YPA), contributing to A&M finishing the game with 180 yards of offense. He was subsequently benched for LSU transfer Max Johnson.

Johnson started three games, playing only marginally better than King, before being injured in a loss to Mississippi State last week. He may be out for the season, and he will not play against Alabama.

King returned to action against MSU after Johnson’s injury, and seemed to have regressed even further. He completed less than half of his passes for just 49 yards and threw two more interceptions in the lopsided defeat.

To further complicate the Aggies’ sputtering passing game, star receiver Ainias Smith has also been lost for the season with an injury. Smith has a team-high 291 yards on 15 catches. True freshman Evan Stewart has moved into the role of WR1. Stewart is extremely talented, and was considered the no. 2 wide receiver in the 2022 class. Still, he has played just four college games and never surpassed 57 receiving yards in a game. Stewart leads a group of equally young and gifted pass catchers, including Moose Muhammad III, Chris Marshall, and tight end Donavan Green.

Alabama Football: A mismatch on paper

Theoretically, this is a very bad matchup for the A&M offense. The Aggies will trot out a one-dimensional offense that relies heavily on a single running back. It will be led by a quarterback who has never proven himself to be an effective SEC signal-caller, and whose backup is now a true freshman. Potentially compounding its laundry list of issues, this unit is gearing up to face the best defense it has played all season.

On paper, this game features a top-5 defense against an offense that ranks outside of the top-100 nationally. The Alabama defense has been elite in every phase, and will have the added benefits of crowd noise and home-field advantage this week.

The only possible solace for A&M fans is that their offense looked nearly as bad at this point last season before playing well enough to upset Alabama.

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Given the nature of the 2022 Alabama defense, and the fact that the game is in Tuscaloosa, a repeat of this performance seems unlikely at best.