- By Suzanne Halliburton American-Statesman Staff
Jimbo Fisher’s first offensive call at Texas A&M Thursday night against Northwestern State was a very basic run from an old-school I formation.
The no-frills call generated 11 yards. But it represented a significant change for an Aggie team. When he was hired nine months ago, Fisher promised a tougher version of the Aggies, who would rely more on a pro-style running game than on an offense with a preference for passing.
The approach overwhelmed the Demons, with A&M coasting to a 59-7 win.
Trayveon Williams, on the third offensive snap, zipped through the middle of the Northwestern State defense, then sprinted towards the sideline. He hovered a nano second at the 20, then cut to his left, dashing any chance of a Demon defender catching him before he reached the end zone. The 73-yard gain was his first of three touchdowns.
“Having him score on the third play kind of gave our offense a little bit of a boost, a little bit of confidence,” said A&M quarterback Kellen Mond.
“To create that kind of explosive play, it gave a lot of juice to the offense and the team as well,” Williams said.
Talk about an understatement.
Fisher leaned heavily on Williams and a power running game. The Aggies ran from the I, the offset I, the pistol and the shotgun. They even sprinkled in some option. The fullback was a vital blocker. The tight end was involved in a big way.
Next up for the Aggies is No. 2 ranked Clemson.
Williams, in just more than two quarters of play, rushed for 240 yards on 20 carries. It was the second-best rushing game in Aggie history behind only Bob Smith’s 297 posted against SMU in 1950.
As a team, A&M rushed for 503 yards. The last time the Aggies enjoyed a 500-plus kind of rushing production was in 1990, also against SMU, way back when the I was a preferred formation.
And the A&M offense rolled to 758 yards, its second-best effort, ever, behind only the 774 gained against Louisiana-Lafayette in 1990. The Aggies ran the ball 61 times of their 96 plays.
Now, all these impressive stats come with a caveat. Northwestern State is a sub-par FCS program that was 4-7 a year ago. The Demons haven’t had a winning record in a decade and changed coaches in the offseason. They were playing in front of the largest crowd — in person and on television — in their program history.
But Fisher gave the 95,855 fans in attendance at Kyle Field a glimpse of how he’ll probably approach the rest of the season. He’s going to run the ball. He’ll call passing plays for the tight end. A&M receivers will be as adept at catching as they are blocking downfield.
No matter the quality of the opponent, it was a nice debut for Fisher.
Mond, who was named starter at quarterback the eve of the game, performed well, completing 17 of his 25 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Starkel, the second-teamer, replaced Mond in the third quarter. He completed five of his eight pass attempts for 63 yards and a touchdown.
The defense also kept the Demons in check. Northwestern State didn’t score until early in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Clay Holgorsen hit Jazz Ferguson for a 71-yard touchdown. An Aggie defensive back slipped on the play, allowing a clean path to the end zone.
The A&M defense allowed only 230 yards, 21 of which came on the ground. The Demons totaled only 13 first downs, six of which were the result of an A&M penalty.
“Very proud of our team,” Fisher gushed. “Thought they played great. … We just took control of the game, took control of the line of scrimmage.”