COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Coach Jimbo Fisher certainly wasn’t congratulating his team for a job well done after the seventh-ranked Texas A&M Aggies blanked New Mexico 34-0 Saturday.
“We’re playing very average,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to get better in all aspects and we’ve got to grow up across the board in everything we do and play with much more consistency as a team and learn to play off each other.”
Zach Calzada threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start to power the Aggies in the rout.
The victory extends A&M’s winning streak to 11 games and gives the Aggies a 3-0 start for the first time since opening the 2016 season with six consecutive wins.
Calzada was thrust into the job last weekend against Colorado when Haynes King was injured on A&M’s second possession. King had surgery this week to repair a broken right leg, leaving Calzada to run the offense.
Calzada looked more comfortable, and the Aggies moved the ball much better Saturday than they did last week while scoring just 10 points in a win over the Buffaloes. They eclipsed their total points from that game in the first six minutes of this one and built a 24-point lead by halftime.
Fisher thought that Calzada was aiming to make “home run” throws after his big plays early instead of simply running the offense effectively.
“It ain’t (all) about throwing touchdowns,” Fisher said. “It’s about throwing to the right guy… he has ability, but you’ve got to continue to make the right decisions on every play.”
While happy with the fast start, the Aggies were disappointed that they added just 10 points the rest of the game.
“We didn’t finish,” running back Isaiah Spiller said. “We’ve still got a young team… and we’re just going to keep working, that’s all we can do.”
Terry Wilson, a transfer from Kentucky who had 559 yards passing in the first two games, threw for just 33 yards Saturday for New Mexico (2-1) while being hurried and harassed all day. He had an interception, was sacked four times and had three passes broken up by A&M’s stingy defense.
“My biggest disappointment… was they didn’t believe they could play with them until it was too late,” New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales said.
It was the first shutout for the Aggies since beating Prairie View A&M 67-0 in 2016. Fisher did stop complaining about what his team needs to do better long enough to say that the defense was “outstanding” Saturday.
The veteran unit knows it might have to shoulder more of the load early this season while the offense comes together.
“There’s certain things that the offense has to fix and we’ll help and be encouraging as they try to fix it,” said defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal, a preseason All-America selection.
Devon Achane got things going when he grabbed a 26-yard touchdown pass to put the Aggies up early.
The Aggies forced New Mexico to punt before Calzada found Demond Demas wide open for a 70-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive to make it 14-0. It was the first career catch for Demas, a five-star recruit in his second season with the Aggies.
Texas A&M extended the lead to 21-0 when Spiller shed three defenders on a 5-yard scoring run with about six minutes left in the second quarter.
Spiller had 117 yards rushing to bounce back after running for just 20 yards last week.
The Aggies added a field goal late in the second quarter and tacked on another one on their first drive of the second half to make it 27-0.
Calzada was intercepted by Tavian Combs on the next possession, but the Lobos couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and had to punt.
Moose Muhammad collected his first career touchdown when he reeled in a 7-yard pass with one hand late in the third quarter to push the lead to 34-0.
The Aggies were dominant against the Lobos, who play in the Mountain West Conference, but they’ll need to eliminate mistakes and penalties next week if they hope to continue their winning streak in their SEC opener against No. 20 Arkansas.
The Aggies got big contributions on defense from a trio of freshmen to help in the win. Linebacker Edgerrin Cooper had an interception, and defensive backs Tyreek Chappell and Deuce Harmon both had tackles for losses.
“There’s no age limit on making plays, especially in the SEC,” Leal said.
After dropping two spots last week after their close call against Colorado, Saturday’s decisive victory should allow the Aggies to retain their current position in the rankings.
New Mexico: Visits UTEP next Saturday night.
Texas A&M: Faces No. 20 Arkansas next Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.