Top stats to know: Hill's epic debut

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
11:14
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The precedent has been set for Texas A&M to do big things in 2014.
Kenny Hill made Texas A&M fans turn the page from Johnny Manziel with a debut to remember on Thursday night.

Hill completed 44 passes for 511 yards, both school records. Texas A&M gained 680 yards, the most by any team against South Carolina in school history as it ended the Gamecocks' 18-game home winning streak. The 52 points A&M scored are also the most ever scored by a road team against a Steve Spurrier-coached team and fourth-most overall.

We take you inside the numbers on this record-setting night in Columbia.

Don’t blitz
South Carolina attempted to blitz Hill on over 40 percent of his dropbacks on Thursday night, but Hill was not rattled by the pressure. He completed 72 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns when facing added pressure compared to 74 percent and one touchdown against no blitz.

Johnny who?
Hill’s debut far surpassed Manziel’s debut against Florida in 2012. Manziel passed for 173 yards and no touchdowns in a 20-17 loss. Manziel did rush for 60 yards and a touchdown in that game.



Catch and run
The Aggies gained 278 of their 511 passing yards after the catch Thursday, including 106 by Malcome Kennedy. Last season, Texas A&M averaged an SEC-high 179.8 yards after the catch per game.

Curtains for South Carolina?
Despite tonight’s big loss for the Gamecocks, their season is far from over. Four teams have reached the SEC championship game after losing their season opener and six teams have done so after losing their SEC opener.

The most recent team to do both was Georgia in 2011, which reached the SEC title game after losing its opener to Boise State and its SEC opener to South Carolina.

College Football Minute

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
11:13
PM ET


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Heather Dinich goes over Texas A&M lighting up the scoreboard, Oklahoma State facing a monumental challenge and three things to watch for this week. It's all ahead in the "College Football Minute."

COLUMBIA, S.C.-- On Thursday night, Kenny Hill, the Texas A&M quarterback whom a lot of people assumed wouldn't be the starting quarterback, put on the kind of performance that a lot of people also assumed wouldn't be seen much from the Aggies this season.

After all, Johnny Manziel is in the past, right? And Kyle Allen is the future, right? The answers to those questions are "yes" and "more than likely," but for now, Hill is the present. With all due respect to the Heisman Trophy-winning, finger-rubbing Cleveland Browns backup, the present is actually a much more natural fit for coach Kevin Sumlin's spread offense.

Don't take my word for it. Take the word of the 13 NFL scouts in attendance at the Aggies' 52-28 win at South Carolina to open the season.

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Texas A&M's big 24-point win over South Carolina on Thursday night paid off to the tune of more than $1 million for some Aggies fans.

The Ashley Furniture branch located in College Station, where Texas A&M is based, offered all furniture purchased from Aug. 16 through Aug. 27 for free if the Aggies beat the Gamecocks by at least 10 points.

Mark Wilks, who owns the store, told ESPN.com on Thursday night that more than 600 people bought items during that time period totaling more than $1 million in sales. One customer, Wilks said, bought $20,000 worth of furniture.

"We've wanted to do this for three or four years now," said Wilks, whose store is an official sponsor of Aggies athletics. "This was really good for us."

Wilks said that, thanks to the promotion, his store had its best month of sales in the eight years it has been open.

No, the furniture store is not going out of business thanks to fact that Wilks took out insurance. With the Aggies a 10½-point underdog, Wilks was able to get the insurance relatively cheap. He says he'll pay the insurance company roughly 15 percent of the total that they will reimburse to customers.

Said Wilks: "We're going to have a big check-writing party at the store."

Furniture stores have been popular businesses when it comes to sports giveaways.


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Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer recap quarterback Kenny Hill's incredible debut in leading Texas A&M to a stunning win over South Carolina.
Kevin Sumlin was never comfortable talking about all the players he lost. Throughout the offseason, he was peppered with questions about replacing Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews. Each time he'd bite his lip, say what he needed to say and move on.

Now we know why. In spite of losing so many stars, Sumlin's offense hasn't missed a beat. On Thursday night, Texas A&M's retooled offense out-dueled Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, rolling up the Gamecocks 52-28 on the road.

1. Welcome to the show, Kenny Hill

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The sophomore didn’t appear the least bit worried about living up to the legend of Manziel on Texas A&M’s opening drive. He calmly marched the Aggies down the field, spreading the ball around to his receivers. The best of his throws was this 22-yard, third-down strike over the middle to redshirt freshman Ricky Seals-Jones that nearly went for a touchdown. Hill stayed calm in a stressful pocket and stepped into the throw beautifully. Tra Carson would ultimately go between the tackles for the 1-yard touchdown, giving Texas A&M the first points of the game. But Hill was the star of the drive, announcing himself to the college football world as a quarterback worthy of succeeding Johnny Football.

2. This Seals-Jones fella can play, can’t he?

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South Carolina’s defensive backs were helpless to stop him. He was too big, too fast, way too athletic. Sound familiar? It should. In many ways, he’s Mike Evans 2.0. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound redshirt freshman can’t be covered. On this 3-yard touchdown grab, he showed off his burst, getting into his break quickly. After getting a step on the DB, all he had to do was hold onto the football, another perfect strike from Hill. On a side note, look at the pocket. The pressure from South Carolina’s defensive line was almost non-existent.

3. Hill can run the read-option, too

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With the game still within reach, South Carolina had the chance to stone Texas A&M on 3rd-and-goal. But Hill was having none of it. Instead of picking apart the Gamecocks secondary with his arm, he used his feet and instincts to get the defense to commit before pitching the ball off to Carson, who had an easy path to the end zone. If Hill can keep executing the Aggies’ offense like this, the SEC West is going to be really, really interesting.

4. Spurrier had to roll the dice

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By this point, South Carolina's defense had shown nothing. The defensive line wasn’t getting any pressure. The secondary wasn’t making any plays, either. So why not try the onside kick? Down 17 points, it was worth a shot. And Landon Ard almost executed it perfectly. But Texas A&M secured the kick, and promptly went 42 yards in 2:27 for another touchdown. South Carolina nearly got back in the game again toward the end of the third quarter, but Dylan Thompson put too much air a deep throw and watched helplessly as Armani Watts came away with the game-sealing interception. What could have been a 10-point game heading into the fourth quarter instead turned into a runaway rout.
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Kaylee Hartung talked to Texas A&M WR Malcome Kennedy after the Aggies' season-opening win over South Carolina.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Kenny Hill broke Johnny Manziel's single-game passing record with 511 yards and No. 21 Texas A&M beat No. 9 South Carolina 52-28 on Thursday night, ending the Gamecocks' 18-game home win streak.

Hill's performance in his first career start proved there is plenty of life in the Aggies' offense without Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round selection in the NFL draft. Hill finished 44 of 60 with three touchdowns.

Hill was steady and confident in the pocket, leading Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) to a 31-14 halftime lead and finishing up with the most passing yards allowed in Steve Spurrier's 10 seasons with the Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1).

The Gamecocks played their first game since the departure of star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney -- and it showed. South Carolina gave up seven TDs on A&Ms first 11 possessions.


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Texas A&M DB Armani Watts picked off South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson at the end of the third quarter.
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Texas A&M RB Tra Carson ran in a TD against South Carolina in the third quarter.
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Trey Williams run for 2 yds for a TD

TA&M vs. SC

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
9:10
PM ET


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TA&M vs. SC
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Gamecocks QB Dylan Thompson completes TD pass to WR Pharoh Cooper.

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Hill Surpasses Manziel In Opener
Highlight Of The Night: Kenny Hill threw for an Aggies' record 511 yards with three touchdowns in Texas A&M's 52-28 win over South Carolina.
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Thursday, 8/28
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