No. 23 Texas A&M aims to bounce back, hosts New Mexico

Field Level Media

August 29, 2023 at 10:43 pm.

Texas A&M entertained high hopes at the onset of the Jimbo Fisher era.

After failing to come close to a coveted national championship during Fisher’s first five seasons in College Station, the 23rd-ranked Aggies look to take a step in the right direction on Saturday when they host New Mexico.

Texas A&M lost six in a row at one point last season and limped to a 5-7 record despite having the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022. The Aggies’ offense ranked 100th in scoring (22.8 points per game) and 92nd in total offense (360.9 yards per game) last season.

Texas A&M didn’t stand pat after the season, however. In January, the Aggies hired former Arkansas and Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Sophomore Conner Weigman relieved former LSU transfer Max Johnson last season and threw for 896 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception. A decorated member of the 2022 recruiting class, Weigman highlighted that stretch by throwing for two touchdowns in a 38-24 victory over then-No. 5 LSU in the regular-season finale.

Fisher was rather direct when asked what he expects from Weigman this season.

“Just keep playing great football with great decision-making and great accuracy with toughness and leadership and the ability to help other players on the field,” he said.

With last season’s leading rusher Devon Achane now in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Texas A&M will look for contributions from incoming freshman running back Rueben Owens. The five-star recruit and Lone Star State native flipped his commitment from Louisville to the Aggies.

Fifth-year wideout Ainias Smith is hoping to step up and aid leading receiver Evan Stewart and Moose Muhammad III in the team’s aerial game. Smith missed most of the 2022 season after suffering a fractured leg during the Aggies’ 23-21 victory over Arkansas on Sept. 24.

“It’s probably the most exciting feeling that I’ve had since I’ve been here. I know all the guys are definitely ready and pumped,” Smith said.

“We’ve definitely been tired of going up against each other and we’ve been saying it for the past week. So now that we get to go up against somebody else in a different uniform, it’s definitely exciting.”

New Mexico won two of its first three games last season before dropping its final nine to limp to a 2-10 record. The Lobos finished with a 0-8 mark in the Mountain West.

UAB transfer Dylan Hopkins threw for 1,913 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions last season.

Alabama State transfer is expected to lead the backfield.

“I always knew that I could play at any level,” Croskey-Merritt said, per the Albuquerque Journal. “It basically was me coming in, learning the offense and focusing. That was the hardest part.

“Playing-wise, it just came naturally.”

Wideouts D.J. Washington, Andrew Erickson, Caleb Medford and Duece Jones will look to contribute to the team’s aerial attack.