Suspensions again headline Aggies' weekend matchup
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 00:09
The No. 7 Aggies (1-0) will search for their second win Saturday as they take on the Sam Houston State Bearkats (1-0) at 6 p.m. at Kyle Field.
The FCS matchup will mark the first full game for A&M starting quarterback and defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
“[Manziel]’s focus needs to be our quarterback and a student-athlete,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “He plays with a lot of emotions and a lot of passion and it’s the coaches’ job to turn that passion into a positive but not take it away, because that’s what makes him Johnny.”
Manziel will have plenty of options in the pocket against Sam Houston State. Despite the Bearkats’ defense only allowing 45 yards passing last week against Houston Baptist, A&M’s potent air raid system looks to outdo the 284 yards and four touchdowns it produced against Rice.
In Manziel’s absence during the first half against Rice, the Aggies turned to their rushing attack behind senior Ben Malena and sophomore Tra Carson. Sophomore transfer Brandon Williams is expected to return after recovering from an offseason foot injury, as Malena said Williams has the opportunity to make a strong impact to the Aggie rushing attack.
“Brandon Williams brings an element to this game that you just can’t coach against and that’s speed,” Malena said.
Like last week, the Texas A&M defense will be without defensive starters due to suspensions. Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett will be suspended for the first half due to an NCAA rule regarding the targeting of defenseless receivers. Senior linebacker Steven Jenkins, junior defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury and sophomore cornerback De’Vante Harris will all be serving the second of a two-game suspension Saturday due to violating team rules.
Senior defensive lineman Kirby Ennis and junior safety Floyd Raven Sr., who were both suspended for the Rice game due to off-the-field issues, will return Saturday.
Ennis’ addition will serve to help an A&M front seven who struggled to stop the run last week, as they allowed 306 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. The Bearkats are coming into the game with a strong rushing attack, led by senior running back Timothy Flanders. Flanders rushed for 1,713 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
“Sam Houston State has the quarterback and the tailback back this year,” said defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. “They are all about making you think. If they do that, they’ll have success.”
Texas A&M defeated Sam Houston 47-28 last season.