Football vs. Colorado special topics

In the Saturday, Sept. 11 game against Colorado, redshirt freshman and starting quarterback Haynes King was taken down during Texas A&M's second drive of the game. 

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted prior to Monday’s weekly press conference without official confirmation from Texas A&M Athletics. It has since been updated following A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher taking the stage at 2 p.m. Sept. 13.

Everything changed for No. 5 Texas A&M football in the first quarter of its second game of the season against the University of Colorado-Boulder, with starting redshirt freshman Haynes King going down.

An anonymous source revealed on Saturday, Sept. 11, Texas A&M's King broke his right ankle during Saturday’s game. With an average recovery period of six to eight weeks, King would likely be out for half of the season.

Unofficial A&M football Instagram account "Aggies today" confirmed King sustained a fractured ankle during the play, for which he underwent surgery on Sept. 12. According to the source, the signal caller will be out until after the Saturday, Oct. 9 game against Alabama.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher further confirmed the injury was in fact a clean fracture of King's right tibia in a press conference Monday, Sept. 13.

"You heal when you heal," Fisher said. "We would never play him before that in any way shape or form."

Freshman Eli Stowers has also begun taking reps at the quarterback position, for which he was recruited for, instead of strictly taking tight end reps since the start of Fall Camp.

During the Sept. 11 game, King ran right on a zone read play and was thrown down by Colorado’s junior linebacker Guy Thomas. King appeared to land awkwardly on his feet and promptly left for evaluation in the locker room. He returned not dressed out and on crutches, with his right foot in a boot.

This would slate the Longview native out for multiple SEC contests, including A&M’s visit to Ole Miss and Alabama's trip to Kyle Field. In the season opener against Kent State on Sept. 4, King threw for two touchdowns and 292 yards while also rushing for 22 yards.

Despite this setback, the Aggies managed to pull out a 10-7 victory over Colorado on Sept. 11. However, it was not without its struggles.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said the faults seen in this contest were not the result of any particular players, but of his coaching.

“I have to do a better job coaching. At the end of the day they’re a product of how you’re coached, and I have to do a better job with myself to get these guys ready to play,” Fisher said.

Redshirt sophomore Zach Calzada took over for King following the injury in the first quarter. In the first half, Calzada threw for 44 yards in six completions with 15 attempts, a 40 percent completion rate. He has been with the Aggies since 2019 and played in a total of four games, including the last few minutes of the fourth quarter in the 2021 season opener against Kent State.

Fisher said there was bad and good news from Calzada’s performance.

“You’re concerned and encouraged [with Calzada],” Fisher said. “You’re both because you’ve got to fix things, but at the same time to be able to make plays when you’ve got to make plays … he made the plays in those drives when it mattered. We’ll build on that and we’ll fix the other things and move on.”

On a play with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Calzada showed his potential by scrambling out of the pocket for a 12-yard rushing gain.

In the fourth quarter on a fourth-down play, Calzada scrambled to rush the ball into the endzone. While at first it was thought to be a touchdown, the call ended up being overturned because Calzada lost control of the ball. Following this play, the scoreboard read 7-3 in the Buffaloes' favor.

Junior defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal said he offered words of encouragement to Calzada on the sideline.

“I told [Calzada], ‘You’ve waited for three years for this, it's your turn,’” Leal said.

A&M’s win was secured when Calzada passed the ball to junior running back Isaiah Spiller in a late fourth quarter play for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

“Isaiah [Spiller] was perfect. It was what we needed, it was the only way we could win the game,” Fisher said.

Calzada completed the Sept. 11 game with 29 rushing yards, 183 passing yards and one passing touchdown.

The backup signal caller played for Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, Ga., prior to committing to the Aggies. With Lanier, Calzada completed 238 of 467 pass attempts and was an Under Armour All-American.

The Aggies will have some major adjustments to make if Calzada takes the quarterback position prior to next Saturday’s game against New Mexico in College Station.

Senior defensive lineman Jayden Peevy said there is more to come from Calzada in the near future.

“Zach [Calzada], he’s been here for a while,” Peevy said. “He understands what’s going on with this organization, so he was ready for this opportunity. Zach Calzada is a great quarterback. He’s going to be one for the future, too.”

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