Anyone wondering when we would get the first quarterback adversity of the 2021 SEC season probably saw it pretty quickly this past weekend. Just when you thought Texas A&M were setting themselves up for a run towards Atlanta, the injury bug reared its ugly head. When QB Haynes King returned from the locker room in a boot and on crutches, Aggie fans hoped for the best. Unfortunately, hope wasn’t going to solve this problem. King fractured his ankle and will miss at least the next four weeks.
This absolutely changes the landscape of the Jimbo Fisher offense, as backup Zach Calzada looked mediocre at best. The Aggies barely got out of Colorado with a 2-0 record, thanks in part to a late TD drive and a mediocre defense from Colorado in the 4th quarter. For over three quarters, the Aggies trailed and were struggling to find any kind of momentum on the offensive side, especially with King out. Simply put, if the Aggies had played a team with an offensive presence on Saturday, the result would’ve been different.
So, where do the Aggies stand now? Well, the implications for the next month have certainly changed. Jimbo is pretty lucky that the team doesn’t jump right into conference play and instead faces New Mexico this Saturday. They are 29.5 point favorites, according to FanDuel. That should help build their confidence, if nothing else.
But, the real test will come next week, when they line up against Arkansas in Dallas. They will then take on Mississippi State and Alabama in consecutive weeks. Without their starting quarterback. Talk about a tough run, especially since the Aggies are hoping to skate by with only one loss so that they can stay in Playoff contention until Haynes King returns.
During his weekly press conference, Fisher talked about finding ways to win in bad situations:
“It’s all about the culture we are trying to build. My dad always told me that as a kid, ‘Winners win.’ Certain people have a knack to understand how to win and make plays. I would rather us not do that, but I give our kids credit in these situations for understanding how to go make plays when they have to make plays in the worst situations. Hopefully that is something we are establishing here.”
The likelihood of that happening is not favorable, but maybe the defense that Mike Elko puts on the field can still cause problems. It’s a tall task, and the defense may need to help on the scoreboard, but it’s not impossible. The Aggies return nine starters from the 2020 team, and DeMarvin Leal and Jayden Peevy seem to be playing at a high level. But how long can the defense hold on during this stretch? Their resolve will be tested over the next few weeks.
Yes, this team can try to rely on Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller, but can Zach Calzada provide enough spark behind center to offset some of the glaring issues that will inevitably arise now with King out?
Maybe Zach comes out and slings it around. I know Jimbo would sure love it if he did. But here’s the situation: This team can’t afford to play it safe while they wait for King. We all know the Aggies won’t be in contention for the CFB Playoffs if they try to play keep-away for the next 4-6 weeks. Jimbo will have to take chances. Otherwise, this season could get away from him in a hurry.
So let it fly, Jimbo. Your season is on the line.