Suspensions plague early season matchups
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 00:09
The highly-anticipated SEC encore of Texas A&M and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has captured the attention of the national spotlight the past few weeks, but a dark side of the program has been revealed in the process.
Despite being only one game into the 2013 football season, eight separate players have received suspensions ranging from one half to two games at most, forcing at least seven starters to the bench in the Rice and Sam Houston State games.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin and athletic director Eric Hyman have sent the message that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated within the heavily scrutinized program. Sumlin addressed the issue seriously but did so in a way that had little affect on the outcome of the first two games of the season, as no suspension will last longer than two games and all players are expected back before the nationally-touted matchup between the No. 7 Texas A&M and top-ranked Alabama.
“We have addressed [the suspensions],” Sumlin said. “One way to address it is to play the young guys that we have. It’s difficult for those guys and for us as a team, but the good news is we’re getting a lot of experience for a bunch of young, talented guys that we’re going to need for the rest of the season.”
Of the eight suspended players, Johnny Manziel garnered the most national attention. After an NCAA investigation into allegations regarding Manziel receiving monetary compensation for autographs came up empty, Manziel received a half-game suspension for inadvertent violation of
Despite the distraction of one of the nation’s top quarterbacks being suspended, the A&M staff found a replacement for their dynamic signal caller. Junior quarterback Matt Joeckel finished the Rice game with 190 yards on 14-of-19 completions and one touchdown. However, the Aggies struggled early in the game, ending the first quarter down 14-7 and only leading 28-21 going into halftime.
Suspensions have impacted the defensive side of the ball more noticeably. In the season opener, the Aggies were without six defensive starters and allowed 509 yards of offense and 31 points to the Owls.
Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett, who was suspended for the first half against Rice, returned in the second half only to be ejected in the fourth quarter for targeting a defenseless receiver and is currently suspended for the first half of the Sam Houston State game.
“We’ve talked at length and that is the world we live in,” said defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. “We’ve told the kids, ‘That is the rule. Like it or not, those are the rules.’ I’m not going to coach our guys to blow somebody’s knees out. That’s somebody’s child. That is an alternative with this rule but we are not going to do that.”
Along with Everett, senior linebacker Steven Jenkins, junior defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury, sophomore cornerback De’Vante Harris, and redshirt freshman receiver Edward Pope are facing suspensions against Sam Houston State, although all four are suspended for the entire game.
“I feel like they put themselves in a certain position,” said senior defensive back Toney Hurd, Jr. “But I feel like they have learned from it. Good thing is that we have some young guys ready to step up and play for us. The coaches and the guys upstairs definitely get these young guys ready, and they also discipline the guys that got in trouble.”