- Kevin Sumlin
- Mark Snyder
- Johnny Manziel
- Malcome Kennedy
- Julien Obioha
- De'Vante Harris
- Jake Matthews
- Gavin Stansbury
** available after 11:30 PM CT per SEC rules
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin didn't know if Johnny Manziel would be able to play Saturday against Vanderbilt until pregame warm-ups.
"Johnny Football" didn't have any of those doubts.
"In my mind I was always going to play," Manziel said. "It would take a lot to keep me off the field and away from these guys. They count on me and they expect me to be there.
"This offense and this team means everything to me," he continued. "So to miss a game regardless that wasn't really an option for me."
Manziel threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns in less than three quarters, and No. 14 Texas A&M bounced back with a 56-24 victory over Vanderbilt.
Manziel showed no signs that the right shoulder he injured last week was bothering him. He threw three TDs in the first quarter to help A&M (6-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) build a 28-point lead. He tacked on another score before sitting down with 6 minutes left in the third quarter and the Aggies leading 42-17.
Sumlin said Manziel practiced for the first time this week on Friday and was a little sore on Saturday morning, raising more questions about his availability.
"People thought I was being coy," Sumlin said, "but I wasn't."
The Aggies rebounded from last week's upset loss to Auburn despite playing a messy game where they had five turnovers.
"I don't know what was going on," Sumlin said. "We started fumbling the ball which we don't do."
Freshman Patton Robinette had a tough time in his first start filling in for the injured Austyn Carta-Samuels for Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4). He threw two interceptions - one was returned for a score - and was sacked five times.
"The turnovers on offense I think were really the story of the game," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. "Turnovers in general are hard to overcome, especially on the road against a good opponent."
Mike Evans and Derel Walker had two touchdown receptions apiece for A&M.
Texas A&M was encouraged by a better performance from a defense that entered the game ranked 118th out of 123 in yards allowed a game. The unit piled up seven sacks after having just seven the entire year before Saturday and Howard Matthews returned an interception for a score.
Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder joked when asked how it felt for his defense to rebound from two tough games.
"We had rough games all year, what are you talking about?" he said. "It was a good confidence builder for us."
Jordan Matthews had eight receptions for 92 yards to become the SEC's all-time leader in career yards receiving with 3,172. Kenny Ladler had an interception and forced two fumbles for the Commodores.
Matthews squashed Vanderbilt's momentum and ended a streak of 17 straight points for the Commodores when he intercepted Robinette on the first play of the second half and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to leave A&M up 35-17.
The Aggies missed an opportunity to pad the lead after that when Travis Labhart caught a 3-yard pass before fumbling. Ladler caused the fumble and it was recovered by Karl Butler in the end zone for a touchback.
Another fumble ended A&M's next drive. Ladler forced this one by Tra Carson and Javon Marshall recovered it.
But Vanderbilt couldn't convert after either of those miscues, and Manziel extended the lead to 42-17 with a 14-yard touchdown throw to Walker which ended the quarterback's day.
The Aggies had great field position on that drive after a dreadful punt by Robinette that traveled just 5 yards.
The Commodores replaced Robinette with Josh Grady after that. But he didn't fare any better than Robinette, throwing an interception on his first drive. Robinette returned in the fourth quarter and finished 15 of 28 for 216 yards.
Matt Joeckel came in for Manziel on the ensuing drive and connected with Evans on a 10-yard touchdown pass to put A&M up 49-17.
Robinette had a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Vanderbilt and Brandon Williams bulled in from 7 yards out to extend A&M's lead later in the fourth.
Texas A&M jumped to a 28-0 lead thanks to three touchdown throws by Manziel in the first quarter and an 11-yard run by Trey Williams early in the second.
Walker pulled in the first one, an 8-yard reception, to give the Aggies a touchdown on their opening drive for the seventh straight game. Manziel was 10 for 10 on the first series.
Manziel found LaQuvionte Gonzalez on a 7-yard pass to extend the lead to 14-0.
Evans caught a short pass from Manziel late in the first quarter and darted 43 yards for another score.
The Commodores made it 28-3 with a 23-yard field goal by Carey Spear. Franklin gambled with an onside kick and Vanderbilt recovered.
Robinette hit a wide-open Jonathan Krause on a 30-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 28-10.
Ladler intercepted Manziel later in the second quarter and returned it 32 yards to the Texas A&M 27.
Matthews broke the SEC career yards receiving record on a 17-yard reception on the first play after the interception. Jerron Seymour's 4-yard touchdown run got Vanderbilt within 28-17 just before halftime.
ABOUT THE WIN...
- The Aggies improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 against the Southeastern Conference.
- Win makes the Aggies bowl-eligible for the fifth straight year and the 35th time in program history.
- It was the 698th victory in program history as the Aggies seek to become the 18th Football Bowl Subdivision team to reach 700 wins.
- The Aggies earn the victory in the first-ever meeting between Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
- The Aggies entered the game with just seven QB sacks in the first seven contests of 2013, but matched their season total in just one game with seven against the Commodores.
AGGIE DEFENSE SHINES
- The Aggie defense recorded a season-high 12 tackles for loss in the win, to go along with the seven sacks.
- The 329 yards allowed by the A&M defense was a season-low. The previous best was 390 yards agains Sam Houston State and lowest versus an FBS opponent was 434 yards by SMU.
- The Aggies held an opponent under 100 yards rushing for just the second-time this season at 95 yards, SMU tallied 93 rushing yards earlier this season.
- The 24 points allowed by A&M were the second-lowest in the first eight games. Season low is 13 versus SMU, prior to today the second-lowest was 31 versus Rice.
- The first defensive play of the second half was an interception-return for touchdown by Howard Matthews. The pick-six was the fifth defensive touchdown of the season for the Aggies.
- The A&M defense recorded a season-high three interceptions.
YOUTH IS SERVED
- A host of true-freshman defenders made their impact felt against the Commodores.
- Freshman defenders have combined for 23 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 QBH, 3 QBS and 1 INT
Darian Claiborne 5 tackles, 1.5 QBS, 1.5 TFL Noel Ellis 4 tackles, 1 QBH, .5 QBS, .5 TFL Shaan Washington 4 tackles, 1 QBS, 1 TFL Jordan Mastrogiovanni 4 tackles, 1 INT Daeshon Hall 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 QBH Isaiah Golden 2 tackles Alex Sezer 1 tackle
6,000/8,000 FOR JOHNNY
- In just his 21st career game, Johnny Manziel surpassed the 6,000- and 8,000-yard plateaus in career passing and total yards, respectively.
40 POINTS/400 TOTAL YARDS
- The Aggies scored 56 points while racking up 558 total yards. It marked the Aggies’ 11 straight game with 40 or more points, which is the longest streak in the NCAA FBS. It was also A&M’s 20th straight game with 400 or more total yards, which is the second-longest streak in FBS. Both streaks are easily school records.
WEEKLY FAST START NOTE
- The Aggies took the opening kickoff of the game and proceeded to march on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard TD catch by Derel Walker.
- It marked the seventh straight game with a touchdown on the opening offensive series of the game.
- In 21 games under Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies have scored 18 times on their first offensive series of the game with 17 touchdowns.
- The Aggies have scored first in 20 of 21 games under Sumlin.
- The Aggies have scored at least 14 first-quarter points in seven straight games, and 13 times in 21 games under Sumlin.
NEW FIVE UP FRONT
- Today’s OL starters were LT Jarvis Harrison, LG Garrett Gramling, C Mike Matthews, RG Germain Ifedi and RT Jake Matthews, it marked the first change to offensive line starters all season. Prior to today the offensive line has been LT J. Matthews, LG Harrison, C M. Matthews, RG Ifedi and RT Ogbuehi in previous 7 games.
- In fact, A&M used the same 5 starters in all 13 games last year: Luke Joeckel, Harrison, Patrick Lewis, Ogbuehi and J. Matthews…and then used the same 5 guys for the first 7 games of 2013.
- First career start for junior Garrett Gramling from Denton Ryan High School.
12TH MAN, POLO, CAPTAINS, COIN TOSS
- For the eighth straight game, sophomore defensive back Sam Moeller was the 12th Man.
- Wearing the #90 jersey in memory of fallen teammate Polo Manukainiu was freshman Isaiah Golden (normally wears #99). Manukainiu died in a tragic car accident last summer.
- The Aggies’ team captain representatives at the coin toss were seniors Ben Malena, Toney Hurd Jr. and Jake Matthews. A&M won the toss and elected to receive.
Selected Texas A&M Post-Game Quotes
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
On the defensive performance…
“It’s always important. As a team, obviously we’ve made some changes, as I alluded to last week some tough decisions, we got to play a lot of guys today. Inserted some new people who got some more turns, it’s really the first game, believe it or not, that we had all four of our secondary guys start the game that we planned to start the year with, either due to injury with Floyd Raven or suspension or what-have-you. So, there was some continuity, the back end, I thought Noel Ellis and Toney Hurd Jr. gave us some depth at the nickel position and gives some flexibility. Donnie Baggs, in some of the bigger sets made some big plays for us today, which we needed that to happen, too. Sean Washington, [one of] just a number of guys we got that involved and were really able to rotate some of the D-linemen. Hardreck Walker played a lot today, the most he’s played the whole time and giving Isaiah Golden some rest because Alonzo Williams didn’t play. From a confidence standpoint, that’s got to help our young guys and the number of turns that they got and not only just playing but having some success, particularly in the second half, we’re giving the ball right back to them and they’re still getting off the field, either with turnovers or stops.”
On Texas A&M’s four fumbles…
“I don’t know what was going on, we started fumbling the ball, which we don’t do. Put another guy in there and he fumbled. So, I think it became very evident that when you fumble the ball, you don’t go back in the game. Brandon Williams got his turn, I think he took care of the ball and played very well, with some flashes. We’ve got some guys that are pretty talented at running back, but we’ve got to take care of the ball. You hit the nail on the head. In my two big stats for the day, we lost the turnover margin with five turnovers to their three, but third downs were big for us and that’s offensively and defensively. That’s a big deal for what we do as a no-huddle team. When we’re converting 60% or so on third down, we’re moving the ball and our defense its holding them to 3-of-11 that’s as good as it’s been here this year.
On Johnny Manziel’s health…
“He practiced yesterday at the walkthrough, which we go about 20-25 minutes. Ours is not really a walkthrough but it’s a full-speed walkthrough that’s not padded. He went through that without any mental errors. Actually got up this morning and was a little sore from that. I was a little concerned with that. We really didn’t make a decision until warm-ups. People thought I was being coy, we didn’t really know. We worked Joeckel and Kenny Hill the whole week, and I think that shows, because both of those guys were prepared to play today. Both of those guys operated in the offense very well. Those two guys were prepared to play today, they practiced right until yesterday and Johnny took the snaps yesterday, we go about 30 plays or so, and during warm-ups today he said he felt good and was ready to go.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARK SNYDER
On defensive performance…
“I thought we had a really good week of practice. The challenge before we hit the field was transitioning it from the practice field to Kyle Field. I thought the kids did that for the most part today. We’ve still got some things we have to get cleaned up. We had a bunch of three-and-outs. We kept them under 100 yards rushing. Those are things that we should do. It was nice to have the whole secondary together and to practice together for a week. To me, it’s about improvement. I want to continue to see improvement. I think we are at a juncture where that should start happening.”
On increased quarterback pressure…
“I dialed it up. We pressured a lot more than we have been. We finally could. I felt we finally got to the place where all the pieces came together. I felt comfortable calling these pressures because everybody knew where we were supposed to be. I told the TV crew on Friday that this would be our game where we started becoming who we have been, who we are going to be and who we have always been.”
On personnel changes…
“I know we played a lot of young guys. I have a feeling that between now and our bowl game and bowl preparation that those guys are going to get better and better. We made a conscious effort to get data in the game a lot. Also, we made sure to get Noel Ellis and Shaan Washington in the game a lot and roll with those guys. They are coming into their own a little bit. I was pretty proud of them. There is more to do but this was a far better performance than we have had.”
On Howard Matthews…
“He did well. He had a lot of tackles. Howard could have made more plays and he knows that. He got it from me on the sidelines a few times. He had chances for a few more turnovers. He is good, though. He is going to make a lot of money. At the same time, we felt like Howard could have made a few more plays to get the ball back to the offense.”
SENIOR OL JAKE MATTHEWS
On playing on the right side…
“I found out that I was playing on the right side literally right after warm-ups today. I think I did pretty well even though I haven’t played the position in over a year. We beat ourselves on a couple of things, but overall: good feeling, great win, got the job done.”
On the offense’s performance despite multiple turnovers…
“It just goes to show how good we are. If we didn’t beat ourselves, the margin of the game would have been much wider. The coaches keep making that a point each week: don’t beat yourselves. We’ve yet to put a complete game together and that’s a goal of ours. Hopefully we can get it done next week.”
JUNIOR WR MALCOME KENNEDY
On the 5 offensive turnovers…
“It was really frustrating for us because we don’t normally do that. Every time we turned the ball over we just looked at it as an opportunity to bounce back and score when we got the ball back. Things just happened like that today; we had an unfortunate string of events, but we never let that get us down because we know what type of offense we are. Everyone played great today, and though it’s unfortunate that we had so many turnovers, we won the game by a great margin so there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
On the three different QBs’ performances…
“It was amazing to witness. I’ve seen Kenny [Hill] do it before, I’ve seen Joeckel do it before, and Johnny always does it, so to see that is inspiring because we know that when any one quarterback goes down, we have guys that are fully capable of coming in and leading the offense. I’m so proud of Kenny Hill and Matt Joeckel because when Johnny is out, they’re the man.”
SOPHOMORE DB DE’VANTE HARRIS
On having all four projected starters all on the field together for the first time this season…
“It was great. We all gelled together and made some great plays when it was time to. I think the defense had a great day overall as well.”
On whether the defense played with a chip on its shoulder…
“We had that attitude in a sense, but we all know what were capable of and outsiders are just outsiders. We just do our thing, fix our mistakes, and play hard. As far as redemption, you only have to redeem yourself if you couldn’t get it done the first time. Last week we made our mistakes, but I think we played a complete game for the most part today.”
SOPHOMORE QB JOHNNY MANZIEL
On first half…
“After they got the onside kick they got some more momentum; we had held them to a field goal and we were about to get the ball back and they got it back and scored again. That took a little air out of us, but then we went and got a fourth and one. Then we had a fumble and things went against us for a minute. If we can keep from getting too many penalties and keeping our turnovers down then the game would have probably been different in the first half. Regardless we came out and played well in the second half and got a win.”
On injury and run game…
“It wasn’t really in our game plan this week for me to run. My shoulder is just a little sore, I don’t know if its bruised or what is going on. I kind of got squished when I went down last week against Auburn. It didn’t cause me too many problems today, so that was positive.”
On Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews…
“Mike had a good day. They did some things to keep a guy over the top of him to try and limit his big explosive plays. But when they did give us a good look, he ran some good routes and on the fade route had a forty-yard fade, and that’s a big play and he scored a touchdown. Just watching Jordan and getting to see him live today; it’s been fun watching him throughout the year and even last year. They are both really good players that played really well today.”
On the season thus far…
“It’s been a little frustrating as of late, just with some games a little closer than we wanted. We thought that we played pretty good all around. We just need to continue to get better and grow as a team. We aren’t where we were last year as far as all around in every aspect of our game, but we are getting better. We have a coaching staff that won’t quit until we are where we need to be. If we just give into them and understand that they have a big plan for us and buy into all of that then we will be fine.”
On knowing if he would start…
“In my mind I was always going to play. It would take a lot to keep me off the field and away from these guys. These guys count on me and they expect me to be there, so if I have to come in and get treatment or whatever I have to do to get back, I have to do it for those guys. This offense and this team mean everything to me, so to miss a game wasn’t really an option for me. I didn’t really respond to too many people this week. I just knew in my mind that I was going to play.”
SOHOMORE DL JULIEN OBIOHA
On pressure and sacks…
“We have been working on the pass rush tremendously in practice. We made it an emphasis because we know how little pressure we put on quarterbacks. Today we just saw the fruit of our labor with how much we worked on the pass rush, and it was great to see.”
On second half pick-six…
“It fired us up. Coach Snyder is always saying to cause turnovers, get the ball back to our offense with good field position, and go score defensive touchdowns sometimes. Those defensive touchdowns really help to give the team momentum and fire us up.”
On Gavin Stansbury…
“He played a great game. I think he had a couple sacks and about 10 tackles so he played a great game today.”
On defensive performance…
“We need an example to show us how we should play. This is the type of standard we expect from our defense, so it’s good to have a game like this.”
On Vanderbilt offense…
“We just came out and played hard. We played well against the run game. We made them pass the ball and we put a lot of pressure on the quarter back.”
On energy of the defense…
“We just worked on keeping the energy up and not being flat at any time. Sometimes in last week or other games we didn’t play so well because the energy level was flat. Today we just made sure we maintained a high energy level and that produced a great defensive performance.”
JUNIOR DL GAVIN STANSBURY
Key to turnaround…
“I believe it’s my teammates. Today everything that I got came from my teammates- pressuring the quarterback and forcing him to me. We’ve been giving a lot effort lately and everybody has been going with the coaches and things have been going pretty well.”
On impact on pressuring quarterbacks…
“There has been a lot of pressure lately. We basically decided that we needed to get back there and make some plays. People have been looking for us to get into the backfield and to make big plays on the quarterback.”
On young defensive line…
“The Freshman kind of fed off of us, we brought energy every time we got on the field. Every time that we got on the field no matter if the offense scored or if we threw a pick or turnover we came out with energy, so everyone just fed off of that.”
Selected Vanderbilt Post-Game Quotes
HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN
"Starting out with a three-and-out against a high-powered opponent is not the way you want to start the game on offense. We have a problem at punting that we have to get fixed. I thought we started the year punting the ball well, and that is not happening right now. The turnovers on offense were the story of the game. We got some momentum with the onside kick, and we closed the gap. Starting the second half with an interception return for a touchdown is difficult. Turnovers on the road are difficult to overcome, especially on the road in the SEC. We will focus on Vanderbilt this next week, and then we'll start focusing on Florida."
JUNIOR DE KYLE WOESTMANN
"A&M was a phenomenal team, with a returning Heisman Trophy winner. They are arguably one of the most prolific offenses in the country--up there with Oregon. We needed to play a hard-nosed defense to stop them, and we didn't do that. Our hats off to them, but we didn't do a good enough job up front putting pressure on them."
SENIOR WR JORDAN MATTHEWS
"There were some ups and downs with Patton [Robinette], but I think he's going to be just fine. I'm happy with him, and he will continue to get better."
SENIOR LT WESLEY JOHNSON
"Last week we did a good job of playing well in the first quarter. Today, we didn't go out and do that. We can't have as many mistakes as we had. We have to communicate better on our blitz calls. We thought we could come back and win, but we didn't execute the way we were supposed to."