Saturday, September 29, 2012
Backfield trio spurs A&M running game
By Sam Khan Jr.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- For all of Texas A&M's offensive success through its first four games, one area that hasn't been particularly strong is the running game.
Senior Christine Michael gained 24 yards in five carries and scored a touchdown, as A&M's run game asserted itself vs. Arkansas.
The rushing total for the Aggies have been respectable so far, but quarterback Johnny Manziel has accounted for most of the ground game. He leads the team with 366 rushing yards on the season while the Aggies running backs took some time to get going.
But on Saturday, the Aggies ran the ball effectively in the early stages, and their trio of backs -- Ben Malena, Christine Michael and Trey Williams -- combined for 116 yards on 17 carries, a healthy average of 6.8 yards per carry.
That's easily the best average for the running backs in a single game this season. The Aggies' high tempo on offense helped matters, according to Malena.
"We kept the tempo up," Malena said. "That's something that we stressed all week. And for us [running backs], we just had to read our keys better and run with better vision."
In the first half, Malena -- who was making his third consecutive start -- was particularly effective, carrying five times for 55 yards and adding an 11-yard touchdown reception. Michael, a senior, and Williams, a true freshman, picked up where Malena left off in the second half. Michael finished with 24 yards on five carries and Williams added 33 yards on four totes in addition to 20 receiving yards. Both Michael and Williams got into the end zone as well.
"We have three running backs, all three are going to play," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "It's a long season. It's kind of like basketball -- we let the hot guy go.
"Ben has been playing very well. Everybody understands there is great competition at that position and when you get in there, you better do your job. All three of those guys are playing well, and we are going to need them throughout the season."