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Scouting Report: #23 Texas A&M Aggies

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The stage is set as the Miami Hurricanes prepare to host the 23rd-ranked Texas A&M Aggies at Hard Rock Stadium this Saturday in a much-anticipated rematch of last year’s contest. This time, the battle takes place on Miami’s home turf at Hard Rock Stadium, with the game set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and ABC broadcasting the showdown. Notably, Caesars Sportsbook has Texas A&M as a 3.0-point favorite in this highly anticipated matchup. This game presents a golden opportunity for the Miami Hurricanes football program to evaluate its standing against a formidable adversary.

According to the 247Sports Team Talent Composite Rankings, the Texas A&M Aggies boast the fourth most talented roster in the nation, as per high school recruiting rankings. While these rankings provide a glimpse of the Aggies’ potential on paper in the 2023 season, the true measure of their prowess will be determined on the field.

The Aggies encountered a challenging 2022 season, finishing with a 5-7 record. Notably, they held a No. 4 overall ranking in the team talent composite last year as well. However, Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has instigated changes to set the program back on the path to success.

Perhaps the most significant alteration involves Fisher relinquishing play-calling duties to Offensive Coordinator Bobby Petrino, a notable hire during the offseason. This transition was evident in the season opener against New Mexico, where the Aggies displayed an improved passing attack.

Don’t underestimate the significance of Texas A&M’s offensive explosion in their Week 1 triumph, a resounding 52-10 victory over New Mexico. To put it in context, last year’s Texas A&M team struggled to score more than 28 points against any FBS opponent until their 38-23 win over LSU in the season finale.

The last time the Aggies put up 52 points against an FBS team was in their 52-13 victory over NC State in the 2018 TaxSlayer Bowl. Thus, Conner Weigman’s five touchdown passes against the Lobos, coupled with the newfound efficiency of the offense under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, marked a significant development.

What stood out was the increased pace, a greater focus on downfield plays, and a noticeable uptick in offensive firepower. The Miami Hurricanes must prepare to contend with all of these elements.

In contrast, the Hurricane offense rolled to a comfortable 38-3 victory over Miami of Ohio in their Week 1 matchup. However, the success was primarily attributed to the ground game, with only a few explosive pass plays.

Admittedly, New Mexico’s defense left much to be desired, making Texas A&M’s offensive display significant. Nevertheless, the Aggies are now transitioning to the varsity level, facing a Miami defense boasting potentially the best safety duo they’ll encounter all year in Kamren Kinchens and James Williams. Additionally, Miami’s defensive line promises to apply more pressure than Weigman faced in the previous week.

However, there’s a potential downside to the changes in College Station – the time of possession battle. Texas A&M may not have been known for scoring in bunches in recent years, but they controlled the tempo with their style, for better or worse. In their opener against New Mexico, they played with a quicker pace, while Miami dominated the clock in their victory over the RedHawks. The ground game and sharp midrange passing, with Tyler Van Dyke completing 17-of-22 passes, should enable Miami to dictate the tempo.

The marriage between head coach Jimbo Fisher and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino is still in its early stages but has already yielded impressive results, as evidenced by the 52-point offensive showcase in Week 1.

Despite being on the road, Texas A&M enters this clash as 4.5-point favorites in Vegas, a testament to their potential. The game’s outcome remains uncertain, and key questions linger. How will Texas A&M approach Miami offensively? Can they replicate the 1-on-1 opportunities they exploited against New Mexico? The matchup against Miami’s athletic secondary is a fascinating storyline.

Now, let’s delve into key players and factors to watch as we highlight the crucial elements of the Texas A&M Aggies’ lineup:

Quarterback:

In the previous encounter with Texas A&M, the Aggies managed to tally 17 points, and their starting quarterback, Max Johnson, was limited to a modest performance, throwing for just 140 yards and one touchdown. The Aggies now boast a talented quarterback in Conner Weigman in the 2023 season. Weigman’s development has been on an upward trajectory since his true freshman year in 2022. As a former five-star recruit, he showcased his potential by completing 18-of-23 passes for 236 yards with five touchdowns in the season opener against New Mexico. Weigman’s execution of the deep passing game under Bobby Petrino’s play-calling was particularly impressive, making him a formidable threat. His mobility, as evidenced by 31 rushing yards on two scrambles in the opener, adds another dimension to his game. Weigman is poised to be one of the standout quarterbacks Miami faces in 2023.

Running Back:

Amari Daniels, a Miami native and alumnus of Miami Central High School, led the Aggies in rushing during the opener with 51 yards on seven carries. At 5 feet 9 inches and 205 pounds, Daniels possesses vision and quickness, and he has demonstrated his ability to break long runs. Rueben Owens, a true freshman, arrives with a five-star pedigree in the 2023 class. Standing at 6-feet and weighing 200-pounds, Owens combines explosiveness and power in the backfield. Although his yardage in the season opener was limited, his potential as a game-changer is evident.

Wide Receiver:

The Aggies boast a dynamic receiving corps, with Evan Stewart as a standout player. A former five-star recruit ranked sixth in the nation, Stewart is known for his explosive playmaking abilities. In the season opener against New Mexico, he hauled in eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Noah Thomas, standing at 6-foot-6, provides a red-zone threat due to his size and catch radius. Moose Muhammad is a reliable receiver known for precise route running, while Ainias Smith combines quickness and open-field prowess. The Aggies’ receiving quartet creates multiple matchup challenges for Miami’s secondary.

Offensive Line:

Bryce Foster, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound center, holds the potential to be a game-changing presence on the offensive line, given his size and athleticism. Despite limited play in 2022 due to injuries, Foster has showcased his ability during his career. Chase Bisontis, a true freshman right tackle, impresses with his imposing 6-foot-6, 320-pound frame. His performance will be closely watched, as he faces a talented group of Miami’s edge rushers in Nyjalik Kelly, Akheem Mesidor, Jahfari Harvey, and Rueben Bain Jr.

Defensive Line: The Aggies feature a formidable defensive line anchored by players like McKinley Jackson and Walter Nolen. These linemen excel in disrupting opponents’ run games and generating pressure on the quarterback. Their size, power, and versatility make them key contributors on the defensive front.

Fadil Diggs, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 260 pounds, brings a wealth of experience to the edge. Coming off a strong 2022 season, he contributed significantly with 28 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, and three forced fumbles. Notably, Diggs led the Aggies in quarterback pressures, racking up an impressive total of 24 for the season. His ability to consistently apply pressure was on display in the recent matchup against New Mexico, where he generated two pressures, keeping the opposing offense under duress.

Shemar Turner, a versatile lineman at 6-foot-4 and 290-pounds, impressed in 2022 with 32 tackles and 4.5 for loss. DE Shemar Stewart, another Miami native standing at 6-foot-6 and 285-pounds, is set to shine in 2023 after a strong freshman season. In 2022, he had 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.

Linebacker:

Edgerrin Cooper is a pivotal player in the Aggies’ defensive efforts, particularly within their run defense. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 230-pounds, Cooper combines size and power to make a significant impact. Next to Cooper, a freshman is starting in Taurean York, who arrived in College Station over the offseason and caught the Aggies coaches attention.

Defensive Back:

Josh DeBerry, a transfer from Boston College, made an immediate impact with ten tackles, one sack, and one interception in the season opener. His experience and reliability make him a valuable addition to the secondary. Demani Richardson, a fifth-year starter, brings stability to the safety position with his extensive experience and versatility in both run defense and pass coverage.

As the Hurricanes prepare to face the Texas A&M Aggies, the matchup promises an intriguing battle of talent and strategy. The Aggies’ strengths, including Weigman’s development and their dynamic receiving corps, will be tested by Miami’s formidable pass rush, newfound strength at linebacker, and arguably the country’s most talented safety duo. The real question on Miami’s end in terms of victory for this game is: Will their offense control the time of possession once again through their ground game, and will Tyler Van Dyke have his statement game to declare that he is indeed back to form? In 2023, expectations are high for both teams, and this game will be a pivotal moment in their respective seasons.

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