After a slow start, Texas A&M made quick work of the SMU Mustangs Saturday, rolling for a 48-3 win in Dallas. Here are five quick thoughts about the game:
1. Manziel-mania: Heading into the season, quarterback was the big question mark on offense for the Aggies. After two weeks, it might be a position of strength. Sure, Johnny Manziel is still a freshman and is bound to make a mistake now and again, especially once the SEC slate gets in full swing. But Manziel showed tremendous play-making ability and patience in A&Mâs rout. He didnât panic when the Aggies failed to get points on the board through the gameâs first 20+ minutes, and instead led A&M on scoring drives of nine, one, seven, eight and nine plays to push the Ags out to a 34-3 lead by the third. Manziel torched the Ponies through the air (305 yards, 4 TDs), on the ground (124 yards, 2 TDs) and showed rare skills in rolling out of a Taylor Reed sack and hitting WR Kenric McNeal for a 42-yard touchdown early in the 3rd quarter. In other words, he looks like the total package at QB.
2. Nothing deep: Yet again, Garrett Gilbert struggled to find much of anything downfield in the Poniesâ passing game. Gilbert came into Saturday averaging a paltry 5.17 yards per attempt, which was the lowest average of any QB with at least 80 pass attempts. The checkdown parade continued Saturday, as Gilbert wentÂ 23/49 for 203, an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. The Mustangs wonât be able to outscore many teams until the passing game finds a way to get vertical.
3. No turnovers for Aggies again: For the second straight game, the Aggies managed to last the full 60 minutes without turning the ball over. Thatâs especially impressive with a freshman under center, and itâs crucial for a team that has questions about their ability to hold late leads. As long as Manziel continues his pattern of carefulness rather than the reckless streak that had coaches worried in spring, the Aggie offense should keep chugging along.
4. Did June Jones give up too early? Home fans werenât happy when SMU coach June Jones sent his field goal unit out to try a 20-yard field goal with the Ponies down 27-0 in the 3rd. Â The points kept SMU from being shut out on its home turf, but it also essentially waved the white flag when the game was still conceivably within reach. Admittedly, it was hard to imagine the Mustangs turning the momentum at that point, but it seemed like a no-risk opportunity to go for a touchdown rather than sending a message to your team (and fans) that the game was already over with 20 minutes to go.
5. Rise of Mike Evans: Aggie fans were ready for freshmen to contribute on both sides of the ball this year, but perhaps no player has been as much of a surprise as WR Mike Evans. The redshirt freshman beat out Nate Askew and Derel Walker to earn a starting receiver gig, and heâs been Johnny Manzielâs favorite target in both games so far. Though Evans didnât find the end zone Saturday, he did lead the Aggies in both receptions (6) and receiving yards (133) for the second time in two chances.
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