Cessna: Texas A&M has replaced disappointment with a strong dose of optimism

Aug 2, 2023
The temperature was 103 when the Texas A&M football team hit the practice field Wednesday. It was another unbearable day in Bryan-College Station, which had its 25th straight day of triple-digit temperatures.
Yet it was the coolest day of the summer for the Aggies, because last year’s 5-7 season is officially in the rear-view window. This team is focused on making amends coming off a productive spring and summer.
“My perspective is we got woke up last season,” senior offensive guard Layden Robinson said. “That’s all it is to it. The people that are here who experienced that, know how that feels. It was a wake up call.”
The team took ownership for the program’s worst record since 2008 by the accountability they demonstrated this summer, Fisher said.
“There are three abilities you’ve got to have,” Fisher said. “First of all is availability. How available are you each and every day? And then you’ve got to be accountable and you’ve got to be dependable.”
This team has been accountable for its actions on and off the field. They also have been where they were supposed to be, they’ve taken care of their bodies and they’ve been flat-out dependable.
“Now you have value,” Fisher said. “I don’t care what your athletic ability is. Your mental and physical abilities can’t be used until those three abilities have been there. And those three have been at a very high level for us in the offseason and now hopefully, we can take that to the field.”
Fisher’s demeanor during his 18-minute portion of the press conference reflected that of a coach feeling good about his team.
He was caught off-guard when asked about the health of sophomore offensive guard Trey Zuhn III.
“You guys always got the inside sources and the inside people; you know more than we do,” Fisher said, laughing as he asked what we knew. “You better change sources, you got the wrong guy; your source flubbed ya.”
Later when asked about the running back position, Fisher pointed out that the reporter forgot to mention sophomore La’Veon Moss.
“Why do y’all need me?” Fisher said. “You already got it all down. We gotta guy hurt, we gotta a guy out. You guys got the depth chart at running back done [with] all your connections.”
The biggest story of the offseason was Fisher giving up play-calling duties and hiring Bobby Petrino as offensive coordinator. Many wonder how the two will interact. A reporter told Fisher the players have been surprised by Petrino’s personality, that he’s much calmer than expected and wondered if Fisher agreed.
“We’ll see how practice goes,” Fisher said, grinning. “Listen, all coaches are calm when things go well. It means we’re executing.”
Fisher reiterated there was never a doubt he’d get along with Petrino who has to revive a sputtering offense that was the biggest reason A&M failed to live up to preseason hype the last two seasons when it was ranked sixth in the country both times. Last year’s team woefully underachieved, but the 2021 squad finished a pedestrian 8-4 and didn’t even have enough scholarship players to play in the Gator Bowl.
Why wasn’t that a wake-up call?
“That was a whole different group of guys,” Robinson said. “Those are like the old heads and then they exited. It was a whole new team with a whole new feeling.”
That 2022 team had a feeling of greatness after adding the top-ranked recruiting class of all time, but as for team chemistry, it blew up from the get-go with many of them leaving via the transfer portal.
“It was guys who were stars in their high school that went to big places in their high school [careers],” Robinson said. “They were the best on their team. Some people, they don’t know how to react to a situation to where when you come into college, anybody could beat you on any given day. It was an adjustment for them. We had to learn the hard way, but thank God we learned it, so let’s move on now. Let’s move on to bigger and greater things.”
Robinson said the Aggies’ attention to detail started in a season-ending 38-23 victory over sixth-ranked LSU in the season finale that they built on in the spring and into the summer.
“Some days, you get off focus,” Robinson said. “But then that’s up to the leadership and I believe we did a great job with that to get everybody else right on track.”
That’s why Fisher is excited. The team leaders have helped change behavior.
“When you become a leader, you become a teacher, and partly you become a coach,” Fisher said. “Coaching is teaching, playing is learning. I think our young guys are taking that and our leaders are doing a really good job.”
Fall camp is all about optimism. The Aggies certainly have that, which is a huge step forward, considering recent disappointments.

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