That went just about as it should have.
Johnny Manziel only played in the first half before giving way to Jamiel Showers for the majority of the second half. Johnny Football had a nice night again, finishing 15-of-20 for 174 yards passing (3 TDs/0 INTs) and scrambled for another 78 yards and 2 TDs on 8 runs. Three games in and no turnovers from the freshman - that is HUGE. Showers didn't look as sharp this week as he did against SMU - he was 2-of-10 for 9 yards including an sloppy INT.
The one negative I'm taking away from this game is that I am officially concerned about our running game. Like SMU and Florida, I never felt like we could line up and run the ball when we needed to. Malena had a great night on paper, picking up 88 yards and 2 TDs on 11 carries but there was never that - OH YEAH moment. I definitely don't think we showed improvement from SMU to SCSt.
Trey had 3 carries for 9 yards and was not very impactful - I think he's still adjusting to the speed of the game and I have no doubt that at some point it will just click for him. I really remember that happening with Mike Goodson and C-Mike, where there was a game during their freshman season where it all came together for them - and surprisingly both of them did it against Baylor.
C-Mike is apparently working his way out of Sumlin's doghouse - it was clear that he wasn't allowed to play in the first half but was in on the first snap of the second half. He finished with 26 yards and TD on 7 carries. Who on earth would have thought that an injury-free C-Mike would have 59 yards on 20 carries after three games?
I'll be completely honest, I don't know enough about the Xs & Os to
tell you what the problem is. I don't know if it is because the
defenses are stacking the box full of defenders because we haven't shown
the ability to throw down field consistently, or if it's because our best/most experienced RB has only played a fraction of the season, or if the RBs aren't
finding their holes, or if the linemen are having problems adjusting to
playing in a 2-point stance rather than a 3-point stance, or if it just a
philosophy/scheme problem. It's probably a combination of all of
those.....but it needs to get sorted out. We have one of the best OLs
we've ever had with a backfield of some of the best RBs we've ever had -
this should be a big strength for us but it has been far from it.
Mike Evans led the WRs again with 5 catches for 41 yards, but it was EZ who had the best night scoring twice on two receptions (and picking up 46 yards). One of those TDs was a really exciting play where he leapt over a defender who was on the ground and then turned on the boosters and blew past the safety down the sideline who had the angle on him.
The defense was again very solid. We held them to 223 yards of total offense (189 passing & 34 rushing) and had our first pick-6 in a couple of years as Deshazor Everett took one to the house. Damontre Moore had another sack putting him at 6 through 3 games. It has been YEARS since our top four tacklers on the season were all LBers - and it is a nice thing to see.
Personally, I'm not a real fan of games like these - for many reasons. One, it doesn't count towards bowl eligibility because they are not a FBS team. Two, it makes it very difficult to judge where we stand when we are playing a clearly inferior opponent. Three, if something bad happens it becomes magnified x100 because nothing bad should every happen in a game like this (but something bad is always going to happen at some point regardless of opponent). They are good in that you get to put a ton of kids on the field with live ammo - and it's good to get experience in that way.....and everyone likes to win.
A big tip of the cap needs to go to South Carolina State - they played hard, and clean - and that isn't something you always get.
Next week we jump back into SEC play as Arkansas limps into town in the midst of a complete nightmare of a season. The next three weeks (Arkansas, at Ole Miss, at La Tech) are HUGE for the Ags and will essentially determine how this season will shake out. We should be favorites in all three but none of them are gimmies. Arkansas is a very talented team who has crumbled for various off-field reasons, Ole Miss is our first conference road game, and La Tech is putting together a nice little season - and again we're on the road.