Texas A&M Aggies: Quinton Patton

Instant Analysis: A&M 59, La. Tech 57

October, 14, 2012

After a wild game with dramatic twists and turns, including a furious comeback attempt, Texas A&M outlasted Louisiana Tech 59-57 and escaped Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La., with a win to improve to 5-1 overall and give the Bulldogs (5-1) their first loss.

It was over when: Texas A&M running back Ben Malena recovered a Louisiana Tech onside kick attempt with 37 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs already had recovered one onside kick to set up their final touchdown, but Malena stepped in front of the ball and secured it for the Aggies to take a knee and leave with a win.

Game ball goes to: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman continues to shine and broke the Texas A&M and Southeastern Conference records that he set against Arkansas earlier this season, compiling 576 total offensive yards. Manziel was 24-of-40 passing for 395 yards and three touchdown passes while rushing 19 times for 181 yards and three scores, including a 72-yarder that gave the Aggies their final points.

Game ball, Part 2: Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton deserves a game ball for his tremendous effort for the Bulldogs. The Biletnikoff Award watch list member showed why he's considered one of the best receivers in the country, catching a whopping 21 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns. The Aggies rarely had an answer for him, and Patton played a huge role in the Bulldogs' late rally to narrow the Aggies' lead.

Rising star: Louisiana Tech true freshman running back Kenneth Dixon. He had 18 carries for 111 yards (an average of 6.2 per carry) and had two touchdowns. He broke plenty of tackles on his second scoring run of the night. Texas A&M redshirt freshman receiver Mike Evans also was impressive and continues to produce for the Aggies as perhaps Manziel's favorite receiver, catching four passes for 137 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch.

What it means: For the Aggies, it sets up a huge showdown with 6-1 LSU next week at Kyle Field. Texas A&M saw some issues that existed in its season-opening loss to Florida (penalties and missed tackles among them) and after a strong first four games on defense, allowing 57 points certainly won't be comforting for coach Kevin Sumlin and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.

For Louisiana Tech, it means its BCS-busting hopes are all but dashed. The Bulldogs likely will drop out of the rankings, but Sonny Dykes and Co. have nothing to be ashamed of. They showed tremendous fight and gave an SEC team a run for its money. The Bulldogs are still the favorites to win the WAC, and should they run the table the rest of the way, they'll jump back in and move up the rankings.

And depending how he fares next week against LSU, Manziel might start hearing the word "Heisman" mentioned in connection with his name pretty soon.

Staff prediction, matchups to watch 

October, 12, 2012
Texas A&M 48, Louisiana Tech 27

[+] EnlargeColby Cameron
Troy Taormina/US PresswireLouisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has not thrown a pick this season.
Louisiana Tech is a good team, but if the Bulldogs can't get stops, it's going to be a long night. The Bulldogs rank 119th in the country in total defense in passing defense and 106th in scoring defense. With Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's playmaking ability, the emergence of Ben Malena and the running game and the plethora of receiving weapons the Aggies have to choose from led by Mike Evans and Ryan Swope (not to mention an elite offensive line), expect the Aggies to pile up the points. And the Bulldogs haven't played a team as talented as the Aggies are on both sides of the ball. Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron hasn't thrown an interception this year and if he takes care of the ball like that again, it could be a closer game. But the Aggies likely have too much firepower for the Bulldogs here.

Player to watch: Donnie Baggs, Texas A&M

First glance: Breaking down La. Tech 

October, 8, 2012
Campus location: Ruston, La.
Nickname: Bulldogs
Conference: WAC
Record: 5-0
Record vs. Texas A&M: 0-9* (Louisiana Tech has lost all 10 meetings it has had with the Aggies but Texas A&M vacated a win in 1998 because of use of an ineligible player).

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Inside look: Q&A on Louisiana Tech

August, 28, 2012
Each week this season, GigEmNation will seek insight on Texas A&M's upcoming opponent with a writer that covers the opposing team. Today we visit with Jimmy Watson, who covers Louisiana Tech for the Shreveport Times.

Sam Khan Jr.: Louisiana Tech is coming off a pretty nice season, going 8-5 with a WAC championship and a bowl game appearance. What are expectations like for the Bulldogs this year?

Jimmy Watson: Tech is supposed to be better than they were a year ago. Unlike 2011, the quarterback situation is settled entering the season with a senior leader in Colby Cameron. Tech is deep at running back and has one of the best receivers in the nation in Quinton Patton. The offensive and defensive lines are solid with depth at every position. They’re picked to win what will be the final season of WAC football.

SK: In your opinion, what was the biggest reason for Louisiana Tech's success last season and why might that continue this year?

JW: There were some senior leaders who held things together after they started 1-4, including a devastating 35-34 loss to Kevin Sumlin’s Houston team when Tech led 34-7 in the second half.

SK: How does Quinton Patton stack up to other top-flight receivers you have seen in recent years?

JW: He is the best I’ve seen at Tech since Troy Edwards, who played several seasons in the NFL. He has all the tangibles and the intangibles that coaches like, including working his tail off this summer to become even better than he was last year. There are several other receivers who can take the pressure off him if anyone tries to key on him.

SK: Give me a name on the Bulldogs' roster that Texas A&M fans might not know today, but will know by the end of the game, and why.

JW: Kenneth Dixon – true freshman running back. He’s a bruiser with deceptive speed and is expected to make a mark this fall. Coach Sonny Dykes said “he is mature beyond his years.”

SK: Because there's a familiarity with Texas A&M's offensive scheme based on Sonny Dykes' history with the offense and the fact that Louisiana Tech led Houston by four touchdowns when Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury were there last year, is there a sense of comfort or confidence for the Bulldogs -- particularly defensively -- as they head into this game?

JW: Not much comfort because of the upgraded personnel in College Station and the knowledge that Sumlin will build his offense around the strengths of his playmakers rather than vice versa. The defense is confident, however, that it can hold its own.

SK: What are you expecting out of senior quarterback Colby Cameron when the lights come on Thursday night?

JW: He should be solid in all aspects of his play. He has a full grasp of the Tony Franklin offense and can make the throws he needs to make. He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal that Tech hasn’t had in the 12 years or so I’ve been covering them. If the veteran offensive line can adequately protect him from the talented Aggie defense, he should have a good game.

SK: What's your prediction for the game against Texas A&M and for Louisiana Tech's record/postseason fate this season?

JW: I believe A&M should win the game, but it’ll probably be by 10 points or less. If Tech wins or breaks even in the turnover battle, they’ll have a chance to win the game in the second half. In 2012, Tech should go 8-4, maybe 9-3, and get a decent bowl slot.

NOTE: If this game gets moved to Oct. 13 due to Hurricane Issac, all bets are off.

First glance: Breaking down La. Tech 

August, 27, 2012
Campus location: Ruston, La.
Nickname: Bulldogs
Conference: WAC
All-time record vs. Texas A&M: 0-9* (Louisiana Tech has lost all 10 meetings it has had with the Aggies but Texas A&M vacated a win in 1998 because of use of an ineligible player)

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Recruits Miss Lone Star Showdown
National recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton spoke with top prospects at Nike's The Opening regional in Dallas. The findings were overwhelming: Players want the game back.