Gameday notebook: Texas A&M
Aggie QB has coming out party in front of Williams-Brice crowd
It took him only one game as a starter to pass for more yards in a game than former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, but sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill shattered Manziel’s mark. Hill threw for 511 yards, which is 47 more yards than Johnny Football’s career-high 464 yards against Alabama last season. Not only was it more than Manziel, but it was the most passing yards against the Gamecocks in school history. Seemingly unfazed by the thousands of white towels twirling in rhythm with Sandstorm, Hill completed six of his first seven passes on his way to an opening-drive touchdown. If one drive could be indicative of an entire game, that would be the one. Hill’s poise was on display Thursday night, as was the rest of the Texas A&M offense in the Aggies’ 52-28 mutilating upset of South Carolina. Twelve different Aggie receivers caught passes Thursday night, helping Hill adjust to his starting duty by gaining most of the yards after the catch. Texas A&M’s game plan was clear from the start: Get the receivers the ball quickly and get them in space. That game plan was evidenced by the fact that the Aggies ran 99 plays Thursday night.
South Carolina’s defensive line only managed one sack, and the defensive did not record a turnover on the night. For a team that has built its reputation on quarterback hurries — the team had three tonight — South Carolina was not able to garner any pressure on Hill, who had virtually all day the throw. The Aggies’ high-percentage throws kept any potential pressure away from Hill and frustrated Gamecock defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “We were bringing pressure and couldn’t get there with pressure,” Ward said. “Whether we ran a max blitz, whether we ran zone pressure, we still couldn’t get there.”
South Carolina’s unproven secondary didn’t get off to the start they hoped they would against Texas A&M. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said that the team started out playing man-to-man but switched to zone after a bevy of bubble screens thrashed the Gamecocks’ defense. After not being able to get pressure, the team then began to run man again, but by then it was too late. The 511 passing yards posted by Hill is the most in Texas A&M school history, and the 24-point loss is the worst home loss in Spurrier’s coaching career. Four of the five leading tacklers on the night for South Carolina were safeties, which tells you all you need to know about A&M’s success through the air. Freshman corner Al Harris Jr. looked utterly lost on one Hill touchdown pass, a definite learning experience for Harris Jr. in the first start of his career. “As a [defensive back], we have short-term memories,” Harris Jr. said. “So, we’re just going to come back Saturday and work hard.”
The fifth-year senior from Moore, S.C. had a coming out party against Texas A&M, reeling in 113 yards and two scores off five receptions, emerging as redshirt senior Dylan Thompson’s favorite target on the night. Jones scored the Gamecocks’ first and last points of the night on a 69-yard toss from Thompson and a beautiful 10-yard catch for the team’s final touchdown. Many speculated who would replace receiver Bruce Ellington as the Gamecocks’ primary receiver, and junior Shaq Roland seemed like he was finally ready to step up to the task. However, Roland was only able to reel in one catch for two yards the entire night. Five players caught more passes than Roland on the night, including both tight ends, junior Jerell Adams and senior Rory Anderson.