No. 15 Texas AM tries to rebound vs. Mississippi State

Texas AM head coach Jimbo Fisher and his Aggies are licking their wounds after being pushed around by Arkansas in his team’s first loss of the season.

“We did not play well, consistently,” Fisher said this week about the 20-10 setback to the Razorbacks. “As I always try to say, it’s doing ordinary things better, becoming more fundamentally sound in how we do things and becoming much more consistent.”

The No. 15 Aggies (3-1, 0-1 SEC) look to get back on track at home on Sunday when the Mississippi State Bulldogs come to College Station, Texas.

First thing on Fisher’s list in turning things around is getting better production from the quarterback position.

Backup quarterback Zach Calzada took over for injured starter Haynes King (broken right leg) earlier this season. The sophomore signal caller struggled against the physical Arkansas defense, finishing with just 151 passing yards and an interception in the loss.

One way for Fisher to protect Calzada is to run the football more effectively with running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane. The two combined to average 5.3 yards a carry against Arkansas and are averaging 143 yards a game.

“Zach’s a new guy,” Fisher said. “We’ve got experienced receivers, backs, tight ends and all of that. We have to play better around him.”

Fisher added, “He’s got to grow.”

The Aggies also got carved up defensively by Arkansas’s big-play offense, giving up 448 total yards.

Led by head coach Mike Leach, Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1 SEC) has lost two in a row, including a 28-25 setback to LSU in the Bulldogs’ SEC opener last week.

Texas AM and the Bulldogs have met 14 times and are tied at 7-7. The Aggies have won the last two contests, including last year’s 28-14 decision.

Mississippi State has twice knocked off a ranked Texas AM team in recent years – beating No. 16 Texas AM in 2018 and the No. 7 Aggies in 2016 – both games in Starkville, Miss.

Leach, meantime, is 7-4 all-time against Texas AM, including a 7-3 mark during his tenure at Texas Tech.

“We are making progress, but we’ve got to finish drives,” Leach said. “Whether it’s offense or defense, we’ve got to finish drives.”

Quarterback Will Rogers powers the Bulldogs’ passing game, completing 75 percent of his passes for 1,454 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Makai Polk tops Mississippi State with 33 catches for 304 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

“Mississippi is playing outstanding defense right now,” Fisher said. “There giving up just 71 yards a game rushing. They’re experienced and physical up front. They’re front seven is very physical. In their secondary they have long, big athletic corners. And on offense you know Mike’s going to throw it.”

The Bulldogs could be without cornerback Emmanuel Forbes this weekend. Forbes suffered an unspecified injury in a collision with a teammate against LSU and had to be carted off the field.

If Forbes can’t play, Decamerion Richardson would likely get the nod.

“He’s still emerging,” Leach said, when asked about Richardson. “He’s doing a good job and we want to see if we can get more and more out of him. We’re always on the search for quality players to go out there and play, especially at that position.”

–Field Level Media

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