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No. 6 Texas A&M won’t take Sam Houston lightly

Jul 21, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher shown on the stage during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said his sixth-ranked Aggies are playing a very good football team in their season opener on Saturday.

That might be true, seeing as how Sam Houston won the spring 2021 FCS championship and was the top seed for last year’s FCS tournament that was ultimately won by North Dakota State.

But if Texas A&M is in a competitive game at any point in the second half against the Bearkats, it won’t be seen as a good sign and probably shouldn’t be. Even if Sam Houston is good enough to play for a national title in FCS, a Top 10 team that plays in the Southeastern Conference shouldn’t experience a game’s worth of difficulty against an opponent with 22 fewer scholarships.

“You’d better play a heck of a game,” Fisher said. “So we’ve got to be ready to play that way.”

One thing that should help the Aggies play well is the return of their starting quarterback, Haynes King, who broke his leg in the first quarter of their second game last season at Colorado. King threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns in their season-opening rout of Kent State.

Fisher said King earned the start with his work in training camp, fairly bristling at the notion that he shouldn’t lose his job to injury.

“He’s not the only one that had to earn the starting position,” Fisher said. “Everybody on the team had to come back and win the starting job. We only talk about the quarterback. Every position is up for grabs, every day, every game.

“If you’re not performing and doing the things you have to do, everybody can be replaced. We want to make a big deal about the quarterback, but it happens everywhere else. Nothing’s entitled to you.”

King beat out LSU transfer Max Johnson and Conner Weigman for the job. Fisher said all three candidates performed well and that he would feel comfortable with any one of them on the field.

Texas A&M is coming off an 8-4 season that saw it stun No. 1 Alabama, but the Aggies weren’t able to play in the Gator Bowl because of COVID-19 issues.

Meanwhile, Sam Houston went 11-1 last year, losing 42-19 to Montana State in the FCS quarterfinals to end a 22-game winning streak dating back to 2019. The Bearkats won’t have a playoff appearance of any kind this year no matter what happens, as they are transitioning to the FBS ranks and will join Conference USA in 2023.

Sam Houston will have a new starter at quarterback, although Jordan Yates isn’t a neophyte by any means. He started six games last year at Georgia Tech, completing nearly 60 percent of his 153 passes for 908 yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions, and threw for 203 yards in a loss to Clemson.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere,” defensive lineman Markel Perry said when asked about the trip to College Station. “They say it’s pretty loud there. We acknowledged their talent; but, with the work we’ve put in, we’re pretty excited to go out there and show everybody how hard we worked.”

Texas A&M is 12-0 all-time against the Bearkats.

–Field Level Media