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Vandy's The Cure For Texas A&M Blues

Defense comes to life as Aggies roll over Commodores
Rod Machen, 12:38pm, Mon. Oct. 28, 2013
A week after a bitter high-scoring loss at home, Texas A&M opened its 56-24 drubbing of Vanderbilt at Kyle Field with a quarter to remember.

The first 15 minutes of play featured 221 yards of offense, three touchdowns thrown from QB Johnny Manziel (25-35 for 305 yards) to three different receivers, and most surprisingly of all, zero points allowed by the Aggies.

This isn’t your father’s Vanderbilt team, a perennial doormat in the SEC, but it’s also not last year’s squad, which not only went to a bowl game but won one. This year’s Commodores have struggled, but against even average teams, these Aggies have given up big points, such as almost 60 combined points to Rice and Sam Houston State.

After a quick Trey Williams rushing TD, the Aggies found themselves up 28-0 with most of the second quarter still to play. That’s when things got interesting. A failed fourth down attempt was followed by a Manziel interception and three straight fumbles from Williams, WR Travis Labhart, and RB Tra Carson. This helped the Commodores to score 17 unanswered points going into the half, making a certain blowout at least nominally interesting.

In the midst of this offensive implosion, the defense did something rare for this year’s boys in maroon and white: It scored. Just after halftime, safety Howard Matthews, one of the most disappointing players on a disappointing defense, stepped in front of a Patton Robinette pass for a 26-yard pick-six. (Matthews also led the team in tackles with 14.)

After that, the offense got back on track, allowing Manziel to take a seat with several minutes remaining in the third frame. Johnny Football showed no ill effects stemming from a scary shoulder injury suffered last week against Auburn, though his coaches were surely cautious judging by his meager four rushes of the ball. Backup QBs Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill each did well in mop-up duty, with Joeckel throwing for a score and Hill going a perfect 5-5 in the air.

The other defensive superlative came in the backfield, where the Aggies doubled their season total in sacks with seven. That, along with 12 tackles for loss, accounted for the poor play of not only the Vandy QBs but the Commodore offense in general. WR Jordan Matthews did manage to break the SEC record for career receiving yards with 3,172 after earning 92 on Saturday.

Mike Evans (5 catches for 77 yards) and Derel Walker (4 for 59) each scored twice, leading a salty receiving corps that saw five players catch at least four balls. Trey Williams continued to dazzle with 65 yards on just six carries. He’s not the biggest back, but he’s as shifty as he is quick.

This Saturday sees an overmatched UTEP team come to College Station with Mississippi State rounding out this year’s home schedule the following week. These two games might serve as the end of an era. If national chatter is any indication, Johnny Manziel’s time in an Aggie uniform grows neigh as pro football beckons.

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