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Game Notes: Texas A&M at South Carolina

August 23, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION--Texas A&M's game notes for Thursday's season opener at South Carolina...

What to watch for ...

  • It will be the first live CFB game on the SEC Network, as well as the 2014 season-opener for both teams.
  • It will be the first ever meeting between the Gamecocks and the Aggies.
  • Texas A&M will be opening a season vs. a conference opponent on the road for the first time ever.
  • It will be the first Thursday night game of the Kevin Sumlin era at Texas A&M. The last Thursday night game for the Aggies came in 2011.
  • The Aggies will be seeking victory in their conference opener for the first time since joining the SEC in 2012.
  • The Aggies are 10-2 in games away from Kyle Field under Kevin Sumlin.

Setting the scene ...

Kickoff: 5 p.m. CT

Site: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C. (80,250 capacity)

Rankings:

Texas A&M (No. 21 - AP / No. 20 HC)

South Carolina (No. 9 - AP / No. 9 HC)

Television: SEC Network (Brent Musburger/PxP, Jesse Palmer/CC; Kaylee Hartung and Maria Taylor/SL)

Radio: National: Westwood One (John Sadak/PxP, Chris Doering/CC); School: Texas A&M Radio Network (Dave South/PxP, Dave Elmendorf, CC, Will Johnson/sideline); Spanish Network (Pedro Vela Almaguer/PxP, Alberto Rodriguez, CC)

SIRIUS XM: Texas A&M Spanish Network on channel 551; South Carolina game call located on channel 91.

Season Opener Snippets

  • When the Aggies face South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium on Thursday, it will mark the first time A&M has opened a season away from Kyle Field since 2005. In that game, which was also contested in the state of South Carolina, the Aggies dropped a 25-24 decision to Clemson on a walk-off field goal.
  • Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin has been successful in season lid-lifters with a 5-1 record at Houston (4-0) and Texas A&M (1-1). Since joining the Texas A&M staff as an assistant head coach/WR coach in 2001, Sumlin’s teams have compiled an 11-2 record in season openers at Texas A&M (2-0 in 2001-02, 1-1 in 2012-13), Oklahoma (5-1 in 2003-07) and Houston (4-0 in 2008-11).
  • The last time Texas A&M beat a Power 5 conference team on the road in a season-opener was 1994 when the Aggies beat LSU 18-13 on the way to an undefeated season.
  • The Aggies are 4-6 since 1970 in season-opening road games against Power 5 conference teams.
  • Thursday’s game will be just the fourth time Texas A&M has opened a season against a conference opponent (second time in three SEC seasons)
  • It will be the first time in program history that the Aggies have opened a season with a road conference contest.

Texas A&M-South Carolina Connections

  • Third-year Texas A&M Director of Athletics Eric Hyman served in the same capacity at South Carolina from 2005-12. He was named A&M’s Director of Athletics on June 30, 2012, just two days prior to Texas A&M joining the Southeastern Conference.
  • Other Texas A&M administrators with ties to South Carolina include Chief of Staff Marcy Girton and Senior Associate AD for Student-Athlete Services Raymond Harrison, who both served in similar capacities under Hyman at South Carolina.

About that Offense

  • Texas A&M has ranked in the top 25 nationally in passing and total offense in each of the past five seasons since shifting to fast-paced no-huddle offnese in 2009.
  • Under Sumlin, Texas A&M has led the SEC in passing, scoring and total offense the past two seasons. Before 2012, the last time A&M led the conference in any of those three statistical categories was 1991 when the Aggies led the now-defunct Southwest Conference with a 36.5 scoring average.
  • In six seasons as a head coach, Kevin Sumlin’s offense have averaged less than 500 total yards per game just once (480.5 in 2010), and have ranked in the top five nationally in total yards/game five of six seasons (UH ranked No. 11 in 2010).
  • Texas A&M has broken and rebroken its passing record four times in five seasons (both average and cumulative passing yards). Under Sumlin, the Aggies have averaged 300-plus passing yards in each of the past two seasons. Prior to his arrival, A&M’s program best was 281.6 passing yards per game.
  • Texas A&M has scored 500-plus points in three straight seasons, including the top two 13-game scoring efforts in SEC history (578, 2012/575, 2013). Prior to 2011, A&M’s top cumulative scoring season was 427 in 2009.
  • The Aggies set the SEC record for total yards in a season with 7,261 in 2012 and fell just a yard short of back-to-back 7,000-yard season with 6,999 in 2013.
  • After two seasons in the SEC, the Aggies hold team conference records for season passing yards (4,593 in 2013), season total offense (7,261 in 2012), season yards/game (558.5 in 2012), season passing first downs (204 in 2013) and season total first downs (357 in 2012).

Texas A&M Offense since 2009

(since moving to no huddle)

Year                       Pass                       Score                     Total

*2013      353.3   (#7)            44.2 (#5)            538.4   (#4)

*2012      316.5   (#14)         44.5 (t#4)          558.5   (#3)

2011         291.1   (#18)         39.1 (#11)         490.2   (#7)

2010         276.8   (#20)         31.2 (t#34)        441.8   (#23)

2009         281.6   (#16)         32.8 (#19)         465.8   (#5)

* -- Coached by Kevin Sumlin

Sumlin’s Offenses

(at Texas A&M/Houston)

Year                       Pass                       Score                     Total

*2013      353.3   (#7)            44.2 (#5)            538.4   (#4)

*2012      316.5   (#14)         44.5 (t#4)          558.5   (#3)

#2011      450.1   (#1)            49.3 (#1)            599.1   (#1)

#2010      327.3   (#5)            37.7 (#13)         480.5   (#11)

#2009      430.9   (#1)            42.2 (t#1)          563.2   (#1)

#2008      401.1   (#2)            40.6 (#10)         562.8   (#2)

* -- at Texas A&M      # -- at University of Houston

Road Warriors

  • Texas A&M has compiled a 10-2 record in games away from Kyle Field during the Kevin Sumlin era.
  • In the previous five seasons before Sumlin’s arrival, the Aggies were 10-19 away from Kyle Field.
  • The last winning record away from Kyle Field prior to Sumlin’s arrival in 2012 came in 2006.

Special Specialists

Texas A&M is the only team in the nation that returns a punter averaging over 44.0 yards per boot, a placekicker that connected on 80 or higher on his field goal attempts and a kickoff returner that averaged 25.0 or more per attempt.

Player, Position                           Stats                  Avg./PCT.

Drew Kaser, punter                  44/2,085         47.4

Josh Lambo, placekicker         8-10                 .800

Trey Williams, KO returner     28/706            25.2

“Fast Start”-ers

One of the opening periods of head coach Kevin Sumlin’s practices is called “fast start.” Occurring just after warmups, “fast start” features several live-action 11-on-11 series just like a game situation. He started implementing the period when his teams at the University of Houston were getting off to slow starts.

  • In 26 games under Sumlin, the Aggies have scored at least 14 first-quarter points 14 times.
  • Texas A&M has scored first in 23 of 26 games under Kevin Sumlin.
  • On opening offensive series under Sumlin, the Aggies have scored 18 of 26 times with an impressive 17 touchdowns.
  • In first quarters under Sumlin (26 games), the Aggies have outscored their opponents 301-127 or an average of 11.6-4.9.
  • Mark Snyder’s Aggie defense has forced a punt, turnover or turnover on downs on 18 of 26 opening series.

Offense under Sumlin

  • The Aggies have gained 400 or more yards in 23 of 26 games under Sumlin.
  • The Aggies have hit 500 total yards in 18 of 26 games under Sumlin.
  • During the Sumlin era, Texas A&M has scored 70 points once, 60 or more points three times, 50 or more 11 times, 40 or more points 19 times and 30 or more 21 times in 26 games.

Sumlin vs. Top 25

Entering his seventh season as a head coach, third-year Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin has a career record of 8-7 against ranked teams (Associated Press poll).

Sumlin vs. the AP Top 25 (at TAMU)

Opponent, Year                      AP rank      Result

Florida, 2012                             No. 24         L, 20-17

vs. Louisiana Tech, 2012      No. 22         W, 59-57

LSU, 2012                                   No. 6           L, 24-19

at Mississippi State, 2012    No. 17         W, 38-13

at Alabama, 2012                    No. 1           W, 29-24

vs. *Oklahoma, 2013            No. 11         W, 41-13

Alabama, 2013                         No. 1           L, 49-42

Auburn, 2013                           No. 24         L, 45-41

at LSU, 2013                              No. 18         L, 34-10

at Missouri, 2013                    No. 5           L, 28-21

vs. Duke                                     No. 22         W, 52-48

Sumlin vs. the AP Top 25 (at UH)

at East Carolina, 2008            No. 23         W, 41-24

Tulsa, 2008                                No. 25         W, 70-30

at Oklahoma State, 2009     No. 5           W, 45-35

Southern Miss, 2011             No. 24         L, 49-28

“Big Five” Head coaches vs. AP Top 25

With an 8-7 career record against opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin is one of just 12 coaches from the so-called “Big Five” conferences (plus Notre Dame) with a winning record against ranked opponents, according to research by Stats LLC and the Wall Street Journal.

Coaches with winning records vs. Top 25

Head Coach, School                          Record      Pct.

David Shaw, Stanford                       14-4           0.778

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma                    50-23         0.685

Urban Meyer, Ohio State               25-12         0.676

Chris Peterson, Washington          8-4              0.667

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State             9-5              0.643

Gus Malzahn, Auburn                      5-3              0.625

Nick Saban, Alabama                        50-35         0.588

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame                  15-11         0.577

Les Miles, LSU                                     40-31         0.563

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina     62-52-1     0.543

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M              8-7              0.533

Mark Richt, Georgia                          34-31         0.523

Source: Stats LLC, WSJ research

Texas A&M adds Spanish Radio Broadcast

Beginning with the Aggies’ August 28 season opener against South Carolina, fans will hear complete football game coverage in Spanish on their hometown radio stations – Salem Español’s KRDY-AM 1160 Radio Luz (San Antonio); Univision Radio’s KLAT 1010 AM (Houston); Univision Radio’s KAMA 750 AM (El Paso) and MBM Radio’s KVJY-AM 840 (McAllen). Additionally, game coverage will be heard on Sirius XM Deportes en Vivo Channel 551 and streamed on 12thMan.com. The Texas A&M Spanish Network will carry all 12 of the Aggies’ regular season games, as well as any postseason contests.

Sumlin among Nation’s Winningest Coaches

With a 55-23 record in six seasons as a head coach, third-year Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin stands No. 14 on the NCAA Winningest Active Coaches list (by percentage).

Winningest Active Coaches

BY PERCENTAGE

(By percentage / Minimum five years as FBS head coach / Record at four-year colleges only)

            Coach, College                                    Yrs.           W            L              T              Pct.

  1.      Chris Petersen, Washington           8               92           12           0              .885

  2.      Urban Meyer, Ohio St.                     12            128         25           0              .837

  3.      Bob Stoops, Oklahoma                    15             160         39           0              .804

  4.      Nick Saban, Alabama                         18            165         57           1              .742

  5.      Brian Kelly, Notre Dame                   24            208         72           2              .741

  6.      Mark Richt, Georgia                           13            126         45           0              .737

  7.      Bobby Petrino, Louisville                 9               83           30           0              .735

  8.      Steve Spurrier, South Carolina      24            219         79           2              .733

  9.      Les Miles, LSU                                      13            123         45           0              .732

  10.    Gary Patterson, TCU                          14            120         44           0              .732

  11.    Larry Coker, UTSA                               9               79           30           0              .725

  12.    Bo Pelini, Nebraska                            7               58           24           0              .707

  13.    Bronco Mendenhall, BYU                9               82           34           0              .707

  14.    Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M               6               55           23           0              .705

  15.    Charlie Strong, Texas                         5               37           16           0              .69

Aggies on Watch lists / preseason honors

Doak Walker Award: RB Tra Carson, RB Trey Williams

Outland Trophy: OC Mike Matthews, RT Germain Ifedi, LT Cedric Ogbuehi

Rimington Trophy: OC Mike Matthews

Rotary Lombardi Award: LT Cedric Ogbuehi

Ray Guy Award: P Drew Kaser

Earl campbell Tyler Rose Award: WR Malcome Kennedy, RB/KOR Trey Williams

All-AMericans: P Drew Kaser (SI.com, Phil Steele), LT Cedric Ogbuehi (SI.com, ESPN.com, Phil Steele)

All-SEC (Media): (first-team) CB Deshazor Everett, P Drew Kaser, LT Cedric Ogbuehi; (second-team) RB/KOR Trey Williams

All-SEC (COACHES): P Drew Kaser, LT Cedric Ogbuehi

Aggies in the Pros

Texas A&M Players on NFL rosters

(As of July 30,2014)

#53      Nate Askew, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#79      Ben Bass, DL, Dallas Cowboys

#83      Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears

#72      Michael Bennett, DL, Seattle Seahawks

#79      Red Bryant, DL, Jacksonville Jaguars

#4        Randy Bullock, PK, Houston Texans

#13      Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#37      Terrence Frederick, DB, New Orleans Saints

#36      Danny Gorrer, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#32      Cyrus Gray, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

#39      Tramain Jacobs, DB, Baltimore Ravens

#63      Tony Jerod-Eddie, DL, San Francisco 49ers

#76      Luke Joeckel, OL, Jacksonville Jaguars

#19      Travis Labhart, WR, Houston Texans

#46      Jorvorskie Lane, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#9        Shane Lechler, P, Houston Texans

#61      Patrick Lewis, OL, Jacksonville Jaguars

#28      Ben Malena, RB, Dallas Cowboys

#2        Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns

#70      Jake Matthews, OL, Atlanta Falcons

#60      Kevin Matthews, C, Carolina Panthers

#33      Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks

#58      Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos

#98      Damontre Moore, DL, New York Giants

#48      Don Muhlbach, DS, Detroit Lions

#17      Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Houston Texans

#56      Sean Porter, LB, Cincinnati Bengals

#17      Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

#19      Derel Walker, WR, Tennessee Titans

#72      Cody Wallace, OL, Pittsburgh Steelers

Aggies on NFL Coaching Staffs:

Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders (Head Coach)

Dan Campbell, Miami Dolphins (Tight Ends)

Kyle Caskey, Cincinnati Bengals (Running Backs)

Jerry Fontenot, Green Bay Packers (Tight Ends)

Gary Kubiak, Baltimore Ravens (Offensive Coor.)

Shawn Slocum, Green Bay Packers (Special Teams Coor.)

CFL Players

#31      Jeff Fuller, WR, Calgary Stampeders

#6        Stephen McGee, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Bullet Breakdown -- Offense

Quarterbacks

  • The Aggies face the unenviable task of replacing Johnny Manziel, one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the history of college football. Manziel left to the NFL after just two years of action, while his 2013 backup Matt Joeckel transferred to TCU after 2014 spring drills.
  • The departure of Manziel and Joeckel leave the Aggies with just two scholarship QBs on the roster: true sophomore Kenny Hill and true freshman Kyle Allen.
  • Coach Kevin Sumlin announced on 8/16 that Hill would be the starter vs. the Gamecocks after a closely-contested battle with Allen.
  • Hill is the only QB on the A&M roster with a collegiate pass attempt prior to 2014. Last year Hill connected on 16-of-22 passes for 183 yards and a TD in four games.
  • Hill’s first A&M action came in game 2 vs. Sam Houston State. His first pass attempt was a 38-yard connection with JaQuay Williams and his second pass was a 14-yard TD strike to Travis Labhart. The Hill-to-Labhart TD was the first career TD for both players. Hill finished the game with a stat line of 5-of-6 pass attempts for 74 yards.
  • Hill came to Texas A&M from perennial powerhouse Southlake Carroll HS. He was the Gatorade POY in Texas and the Class 5A Offensive POY in 2012.
  • Allen joined the Aggies in January of 2014 as an early enrollee which enabled him to go through spring drills. He was rated the nation’s No. 1 QB by Rivals.com.

Running Backs

  • The Aggies are seeking to replace reliable Ben Malena, who has been the frontline starter the past two seasons.
  • A&M’s stable of RBs is deep and talented: juniors Tra Carson, Brandon Williams and Trey Williams (no relation), as well as redshirt freshman James White.
  • Trey Williams is the leading returning rusher with 407 yards/6 TDs on 58 carries, while Tra Carson contributed 329 yards/7 TDs on 62 carries. Brandon Williams chipped in 269 yards/1 TD on 44 totes.
  • Asked to describe their running styles in fall camp, Trey Williams summed up his running style as “swish, swish” (alluding to the Barry Sanders-esque TD run vs. Ole Miss in 2013), while the 235-pound Carson called his “bang, bang.” Trey described Brandon as “slash and dash.”
  • Johnny Manziel was the Aggies’ top rusher the past two seasons and generated nine of A&M’s 12 100-yard rushing games. Trey Williams is the only RB with a 100-yard game to his credit (109 on 19 carries vs. Auburn in 2012).
  • All three of the veteran RBs averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in 2013: Trey (7.0), Brandon (6.1) and Tra (5.3).
  • White redshirted in 2013 after earning first-team Class 4A all-state honors for Dawson HS in Pearland, Texas.

Wide Receivers

  • The Aggies were the only team in FBS to have four receivers with 50+ catches/600+ yards, but only senior Malcome Kennedy returns from that quartet of pass-catchers.
  • Kennedy grabbed 60 catches for 658 yards and seven TDs. The only returning SEC receivers with more catches than Kennedy were Ole Miss’s Laquon Treadwell (72) and Mississippi State’s Jameon Lewis (64).
  • Other solid veterans include sophomore LaQuvionte Gonzalez (21/240/1) and junior Sabian Holmes (17/210/1), while other 2014 contributors include sophomore Ed Pope (9/65/0) and sophomore Jeremy Tabuyo (5/21/0).
  • Wild card among the returnees is hulking 6-foot-5 wideout Ricky Seals-Jones, who wowed the crowd with 71-yard TD catch-and-run vs. Rice last year. An early-season knee injury ended his freshman season and he received a medical redshirt. A dynamic athlete, Seals-Jones can line up out wide, at tight end or the backfield.
  • A pair of January enrollees have been impressive in spring drills and fall camp, and will provide an immediate boost to the WR rotation: Speedy Noil and Josh Reynolds. Noil’s skill set has already drawn comparisons for former Florida star Percy Harvin, while Reynolds adds another tall, long-armed receiver to the Aggie arsenal. 
  • Non-scholarship WR Boone Niederhofer has drawn obvious comparisons to former walkon-current Houston Texan Travis Labhart.

Tight Ends

  • A huge contributor as a blocker in 2013, senior Cameron Clear is expected to contribute consistently as a receiver in 2014. A rare blend of size, power and speed, the 6-foot-6, 277-pound Clear had just four catches for 42 yards and a TD last season with two of the catches coming in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win.
  • Clear shared the tight end duties in 2013 with Nehemiah Hicks (2 catches/6 yards).
  • Clear’s backups are junior Brandon Alexander, a converted defensive end, and junior walkon Caden Smith.

Offensive Line

  • Based on returning starters, experienced backups and impact newcomers, the Aggies’ offensive line will likely the strength of the offense.
  • Four of the five starters from the 2013 offensive front, which cleared the way for the SEC’s top offense, are back in 2014: senior OT Cedric Ogbuehi, senior OG Jarvis Harrison, junior C Mike Matthews and sophomore OT Germain Ifedi.
  • Experienced backups seeking starting jobs include: senior OG Garrett Gramling and junior OG Joseph Cheek.
  • Impact newcomers are JC transfers Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Elumenor.
  • Continuing a trend started by Jake Matthews in 2013, Ogbuehi elected to return for his senior season so he could man the all-important LT position. Projected as a top five pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Ogbuehi played guard as a freshman and sophomore before shifting to RT as a junior.
  • Ifedi shifted from OG to OT during spring drills and seems poised to move to LT in 2015.
  • All four returning starters have 13 or more career starts: Harrison (31), Ogbuehi (30), Matthews (13) and Ifedi (13).
  • When Ogbuehi missed a pair of games due to injury in 2013, All-American Jake Matthews moved to RT, Harrison shifted to LT and Gramling started both games at LG. When Harrison left the bowl game due to injury, Gramling stepped into his spot as the Aggies rallied from a 21-point deficit.
  • The left tackle succession under coach B.J. Anderson and Kevin Sumlin has been 2012 Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall in 2013 NFL Draft), two-time All-America Jake Matthews (No. 7 overall in 2014 NFL Draft) to Ogbuehi.
  • In multiple pregame TV interviews in 2013, then-offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney deemed Harrison as the most athletic offensive lineman.
  • Matthews’ two older brothers, Kevin and Jake, preceded him at Texas A&M and his father, Bruce, is a NFL Hall of Famer.

Bullet Breakdown -- Defense / special teams

Defensive Line

  • Two of four starters return from last year’s DL unit: junior DE Julien Obioha and DT Alonzo Williams. Obioha has 23 career starts, while Williams has nine career starts. Ironically, Williams’ first start was against Oklahoma in the 2013 Cotton Bowl when a back injury forced Obioha out of the lineup and Williams into the fray.
  • Last season’s defensive struggles forced several 2013 true freshmen into action and that game experience should prove beneficial for sophomores Hardreck Walker, Jay Arnold and Daeshon Hall – who all started a game. Walker started the season-opener vs. Rice, Arnold started the bowl game and Hall started the regular season finale vs. Missouri. DT Justin Manning redshirted in 2013 and could be ready to contribute.
  • Arnold shifted inside from end to tackle and is expected to add quickness and power to the position.
  • Veteran DT Ivan Robinson started five games in 2013 and is expected to play a big role in the middle of the Aggie defense.
  • Once again, the Aggies will likely relay heavily on its freshman class for defensive line help. Big Zaycoven Henderson (6-1, 315) enrolled in January and will be a factor at noseguard. Five-star recruit Myles Garrett is expected to boost the Aggies’ pass rush. Also poised to make their collegiate debuts against South Carolina at DEs Qualen Cunningham and Jarrett Johnson.

Linebackers

  • The 2014 linebacker unit bears little resemblance to the 2013 group that used six different starters, including three first-year players.
  • The veteran of the unit is senior Donnie Baggs, who started six games in 2013, but will be lining up at SLB, his natural position for the first time during his A&M career, in 2014. Playing out of position due to knowledge of the defense, Baggs contributed 30 tackles and 3.5 TFL in 2013.
  • Sophomore Shaan Washington, who is the team’s top returning QB sacker, was battling Baggs for the starting job at SLB, but suffered a broken clavicle during fall camp and won’t be a factor vs. USC.
  • Taking over at MLB is sophomore Jordan Mastrogiovanni, who has drawn positive reviews from the coaching staff in spring drills and fall camp. “Mastro” started against Alabama and against Duke in the bowl game and contributed 26 tackles as a freshman.
  • Coaches have been impressed with Mastro’s leadership skills and knowledge of the defense.
  • WLB will be manned by TCU transfer A.J. Hilliard and senior Tommy Sanders. Hilliard sat out last season, but was impressive with the scout team defense. Sanders started the first two games of 2013 and also contributed a crucial INT vs. Arkansas, but also battled a shoulder injury that was surgically repaired during the offseason.
  • Veteran walkon Justin Bass is the swing LB and can play multiple positions.
  • True freshmen that could see playing time include Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker.

Secondary

  • In the long term, the Aggies will be able to trot out their complete starting secondary. In the short term, however, A&M will be missing two-year starter De’Vante Harris for the early portion of the 2014 season due to a urinary tract injury that has kept him out of action since mid-August.
  • Starters returning in 2014 include Harris (FCB), senior Deshazor Everett (BCB), senior Howard Matthews (BS) and senior Floyd Raven Sr. (FS). Also returning at safety is senior Clay Honeycutt, who started four games in 2013.
  • Everett is the leader of the secondary and ranks as perhaps the most versatile defender on the team. Everett started six games at cornerback and four games at safety in 2013, but will remain at cornerback in 2014, according to the coaches.
  • A playmaker, Everett has four career pickoffs and 14 PBUs, and he had three career TDs – two via INTs and one by fumble return.
  • Matthews tied for the team lead in pickoffs (3) and was second on the team in tackles (90) in 2013.
  • The Aggies have three senior safeties that have 29 career starts – Matthews (20), Raven (5) and Honeycutt (4).
  • Seldom-used junior Devonta Burns, who has two career tackles, has impressed the coaches in spring drills and fall camp and is slated to be in the DB rotation at nickel.
  • Two corners that were thrust into action as true freshman – Victor Davis and Tavares Garner – are expected to play major roles. In Harris’ absence, Davis is the likely starter at boundary cornerback.
  • Once again, true freshmen will be leaned on in the secondary in 2014, especially at safety. Donovan Wilson, who led the Shreveport area with 13 pickoffs last fall, is listed as Matthews’ backup at back safety, and Armani Watts is ahead of Raven Sr. at free safety. Nick Harvey is running No. 2 at field corner behind Davis.

Special Teams

  • Veteran unit features All-America punter Drew Kaser, a placekicker (senior Josh Lambo) that hit 80 percent of his FG tries in 2013 and a kickoff returner (Trey Williams) that ranked No. 26 nationally (25.2 average).
  • Also returning are the deep snapper (Alex Freeman) and holder (Conner McQueen), as well as 2012 starting PK Taylor Bertolet, who handled the kickoff duties in 2013 (47 touchbacks).
  • Kaser broke perennial NFL All Pro Shane Lechler’s A&M record with a 47.4 punt average, which led the SEC. Kaser’s brilliant sophomore season also included 17 coffin corner boots, 14 forced fair catches and 17 boots of 50 yards or more.
  • Kaser’s appearance at the SEC Media Days prompted A&M fans to start a humorous #Kaser4Heisman hashtag on Twitter.
  • Lambo took over the Aggies’ PK duties in game 4 of 2013 after Bertolet struggled and responded by connecting on 8-of-10 FGs and 50-of-51 PATs.
  • Lambo, who will be 24 this year, is the second-oldest player on the team by two days behind DT Ivan Robinson.
  • Lambo took a circuitous route to Texas A&M, joining the team as a walkon in 2012 after drawing interest of the Aggie coaching staff by posting kicking videos on YouTube. Lambo was a soccer prodigy who left his Wisconsin home at age 14 to attend a sports academy in Florida. He went on to become a first round pick of FC Dallas in the 2008 SuperDraft and a four-year professional soccer career.
  • In his second game as the full-time PK, Lambo connected on a game-winning, walk-off FG against Ole Miss. It was the first walk-off FG by an Aggie kicker since Terry Venetoulias’ 21-yard game-winner vs. Texas Tech in 1992.
  • Touted true freshman Speedy Noil will likely have a big impact on both return teams. He’s listed as the starter at punt returner and listed with returnee Trey Williams at KO returner. Fellow true freshman Nick Harvey and sophomore LaQuvionte Gonzalez are in the mix at punt returner. 

PRO DADS/FAMILY

Multiple players on the Aggies’ 2014 roster have fathers or other relatives that were accomplished professional athletes in the NFL or other sports.

BRUCE MATTHEWS / Mike Matthews

The father of Aggie offensive lineman Mike Matthews, Bruce, was a perennial All-Pro offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Mike continues the amazing Matthews family football legacy, which includes former A&M offensive line starters Kevin and Jake Matthews.

Rod Harris / De’Vante Harris

Junior cornerback De’Vante Harris’ father, Rod, was an accomplished return specialist for three NFL teams and compiled over 150 punt and kickoff returns during his pro career.

Louis Cheek / Joseph Cheek

Junior lineman Joseph Cheek’s dad, Louis, saw action in 49 games in four seasons in the NFL.

Ken Hill / Kenny Hill

Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill’s dad, Ken, played 14 seasons in the MLB with several teams. He was an All-Star in 1994 with the St. Louis Cardinals, and finished second in the Cy Young balloting after compiling a 16-5 record. He was sixth in the Cy Young voting in 1996 with the Texas Rangers.

Frank / Kelly / Shane Tripucka

Redshirt freshman punter Shane Tripucka’s family tree includes former AFL all-star QB Frank Tripucka (grandfather) and former NBA all-star Kelly Tripucka.

Aggie Legacies

WR Rod Harris 1985-88 / CB De’Vante Harris, So-1L

OT Louis Cheek 1984-87 / OT Joseph Cheek, So-1L

OL Pat Cunningham 1988-89 / DE Qualen Cunningham, Fr-HS

DB Lynn Honeycutt 1978-79 / DB Clay Honeycutt, Jr-1L

QB/DB Mark McQueen 1981-82 / QB Conner McQueen, Fr-RS

TE Greg Schorp 1990-93 / DL Tanner Schorp, Fr-HS

Aggie Twins

LB Tyrell Taylor / LB Tyrone Taylor

Texas A&M Season-Opener Highs

Team

Total Offense: vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 606 yards

Number of Plays: vs. Stephen F. Austin, September 4, 2011, 99 plays

First Downs: vs. Stephen F. Austin, September 4, 2011, 33 first downs

Rushing: vs. Clemson, September 14, 1974, 434 yards

Passing: vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 361 yards

Passing Attempts: vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 43 attempts

Completions: vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009 32 completions

Passing First Downs: vs. Stephen F. Austin, September 4, 2010, 18 first downs

Penalties: August 31, 2002 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 16 penalties

Individual

Total Offense: Jerrod Johnson vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 406 yards

Passing: Jerrod Johnson vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 349 yards

Passing Touchdowns: Ryan Tannehill vs. SMU, September 4, 2011, 2 TD

Passing Attempts: Jerrod Johnson vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 41 attempts

Receiving Yards: Terrence Murphy vs. Utah, September 2, 2004, 116 yards

Receptions: Ryan Swope vs. Stephen F. Austin, September 4, 2010, 13 catches

Longest Rush: Rodney Thomas vs. LSU, September 4, 1993, 80 yards

Rushing: Leeland McElroy vs. LSU, September 2, 1995, 229 yards

Rushing Attempts: Leeland McElroy vs. LSU, September 2, 1995, 35 attempts

Sacks: Von Miller vs. New Mexico, September 5, 2009, 3 Sacks; Tony Jerod-Eddie vs. SMU, September 4, 2011, 3 Sacks, Damontre Moore vs. Florida, September 8, 2012, 3 sacks

Tackles: Johnny Holland vs. Alabama, September 14, 1985, 22 tackles

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