Texas A&M running game sputters in win

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
11:15
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One area where Texas A&M didn't have great success early in Saturday's 70-14 win over South Carolina State was the running game. That is, if you don't count the running Johnny Manziel has done from the quarterback position.

Without counting Manziel's scrambling or designed runs, the running backs took some time to get going on Saturday. Before junior running back Ben Malena exploded for a 50-yard touchdown run with 1:20 to go in the second quarter, the Aggies recorded just 47 yards on 13 carries: an average of 3.6 yards per carry.

"It's something that we've discussed in our running game," coach Kevin Sumlin said regarding Saturday's game. "Whether it's scheme, when we were in two backs, really we had more success in the one-back running game than when we had (tight end) Nehemiah Hicks back there in the two-back set. So we went back to just one back and we were pretty successful.

"You would think with more people in the backfield, you'd be able to run the football better. But we were better in one-back so we just stayed withthat in the second quarter and we were very efficient. That's what happens."

Malena and true freshman Trey Williams shared the first-half carries. With the 50-yard run, Malena finished with 88 yards on 11 carries while Williams had nine yards on three carries. Both players did not play in the second half.

One player that was absent in the first half was senior Christine Michael. Last week, Michael missed the SMU game while serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. When asked why he didn't play in the first half of Saturday's game, Sumlin said simply "He just didn't play in the first half."

Michael entered the game early in the third quarter and finished with seven carries for 26 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for six yards.

A week ago against SMU, the Aggies had just 12 rushing yards on eight carries, something offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury attributed to SMU's defensive scheme that he said dared the Aggies to throw the ball. Against the Mustangs, Manziel was the leading rusher for the Aggies while Malena and Williams combined for 76 yards on 20 carries. So how the backs and the offensive line performs moving forward will be worth watching.

Sam Khan | email

Texas A&M/SEC reporter

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