'Bama knows Mike
Evans remains humble despite record-setting day
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 23:09
Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans departed Kyle Field Saturday exhausted, requiring intravenous fluids and oxygen just to make a late appearance at the post-game press conference.
Evans’ effort, though, paid off in his stat line, as he completed the biggest day from any Aggie wide receiver in program history.
“I gave it all I had,” Evans said. “I caught cramps at the end of the fourth. I feel kind of beat up, like I played a whole season.”
Finishing with a school record 279 receiving yards, Evans did it all against the top-ranked Crimson Tide. Combined with a former career-best 155 yards receiving last week against Sam Houston State, Evans has emerged as the nation’s leading wide receiver, accumulating 518 yards over three games.
Managing to put it all in perspective, the sophomore couldn’t help but see the negatives after the final whistle sounded, handing A&M its first loss of the season in the form of a 49-42 nail-biter to defending national champion Alabama.
“I just tried to play as hard as I could,” Evans said. “Johnny [Manziel] found me on a few big plays, but it wasn’t enough.”
In the first two drives of the game, Manziel connected with Evans for throws of 32, 35 and 34 yards, setting up consecutive touchdowns, giving A&M an early 14-0 lead. After one quarter of play, the sophomore receiver had already accounted for four catches and 135 yards, marking his first back-to-back 100-yard receiving games.
Late in the fourth quarter on a third-and-nine, Manziel found Evans for a 95-yard touchdown — the second longest scoring pass in A&M history — to reignite the Aggies’ momentum.
“In my eyes, Mike Evans is the best receiver in college football,” Manziel said. “I see him every day and every week I get to see how he works against defenders and it’s just amazing. A big guy like that who can really run and gives it his all every game is a great player.”
Despite the negatives surrounding the loss, Evans’ performance remained a bright topic among players and coaches at the press conference. Manziel, who Evans called “one of his best friends,” said his fellow sophomore’s performance was the difference in the game.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Manziel said. “I was roommates with him last night in the hotel and we were just talking about how the game would turn out. I knew he was going to come out and play really well.”
Evans’ deep-threat ability allowed the A&M offense to create a second dimension to its attack, as Alabama was forced to remove defenders from the box to cover Evans. The schematic change opened up the Aggie run game, which garnered 172 yards on the day.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin said Evans’ effect on the Crimson Tide defense provided opportunities for A&M to create space and run the ball.
“You look at some of the situations where basically he was doubled, and we were able to run the ball effectively because of that,” Sumlin said. “We were able to run the ball effectively because of some of the things he created schematically.”
Perhaps more impressive than Evans’ stat line was his attitude following the game, as he remained humble despite his record shattering yardage that marked the fourth-best performance all-time among Southeastern Conference receivers.
“I practice my butt off and try my best every day,” Evans said. “If [my teammates] want to say [I’m the best] then I love them for that. I didn’t block as well as I’m capable of, I know that. I did some things, made some big plays, but wasn’t enough in the end.”