- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
Texas A&M cruised to a 47-28 win over FCS foe Sam Houston State on Saturday. The Aggies were productive on both ends of the field. Here are three examples of notable plays where the Aggies' shined:
Situation: Texas A&M ball, first-and-goal at the Sam Houston State 7 (10:28 left, first quarter)
Score: Texas A&M 0, Sam Houston State 0
Breakdown: This play showcases an aspect of the Aggies that has been solid from the start of the season: the offensive line.
The Bearkats are only rushing four players on this play and the Aggies' front five has rarely had trouble in those situations. Here, the Aggies line up with a 3x1 formation (three receivers to one side, one to the opposite side) and one running back in the backfield. Manziel takes the snap and stays in the pocket for 6-7 seconds. This also shows a little bit of the maturity of Manziel, as earlier in the year he probably would have taken off sooner after not seeing someone open.
Upon the snap, the Bearkats' defensive tackles do a stunt, where they cross each other to try to confuse the offensive line but center Patrick Lewis and left guard Jarvis Harrison are not fooled and pick up the stunt to perfection. Meanwhile, tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews hold their men steady and even when Manziel scrambles right, Matthews does a good job of staying on his block even though his defender is starting to move toward Manziel. This is something the linemen have done well all year. It gives Manziel time to find Evans and thread the needle for a touchdown pass.
Situation: Sam Houston State ball, first-and-10 at its own 25 (1:49 left in second quarter)
Score: Texas A&M 27, Sam Houston State 0
Breakdown: Sam Houston State ran a lot of option football out of the spread and it requires what coaches call "assignment football" on defense.
Basically it means that every defensive player has to recognize and stay with the man he's responsible for. If that doesn't happen, that's when big run plays are made in the option game.
On this particular play, the Bearkats have receiver Richard Sincere taking the snap with one running back in the backfield and two receivers split out with two tight ends in the formation. The Aggies have a four-man defensive front but have stacked the box with eight defensive players, expecting the run.
Porter, the senior linebacker, is standing up just outside the tight end on the left side of the formation and at the snap, he blows by his man. Sincere fakes the handoff to the running back and runs to his right, and the Aggies stay with their men. Defensive end Damontre Moore crashes down on the running back, Jonathan Stewart pursues Sincere and outside linebacker Steven Jenkins avoids a block from a tight end to step right into Sincere's path.
Sincere stops in his tracks, Jenkins wraps up and Porter -- who has trailed Sincere since blowing by the tight end -- catches up and goes after the football while Jenkins wraps. Porter has mentioned that the Aggies do turnover drills in practice a lot and it's evident here, as Porter rips the ball clean from Sincere for the turnover. Two plays later, the Aggies offense is back in the end zone for a 34-0 lead.
Situation: Texas A&M ball, first-and-10 at its own 11 (13:46 left, third quarter)
Score: Texas A&M 34, Sam Houston State 0
Result: 89-yard touchdown pass from Johnny Manziel to Uzoma Nwachukwu.
Breakdown: This is simply a good example of how explosive this offense can be when things are clicking.
The Aggies are lined up with one running back and two receivers to each side of the formation. Sam Houston State has five defenders in the box initially but runs a safety up toward the line of scrimmage, showing blitz, leaving one safety back.
The safety blitzes on the right side and running back Ben Malena picks it up to perfection. Nwachukwu is lined up in the 'H' position, which is essentially the slot receiver spot on the left side. Kenric McNeal is next to him and runs a short curl under Nwachkwu, who crosses toward the left sideline. This cross of McNeal and Nwachukwu causes the two defensive backs, who are in man-to-man coverage, to nearly collide and that hesitation is enough for Nwachukwu to find open space. Manziel delivers the pass in stride and Nwachkwu is off to the races. The lone safety back comes over but by time he gets there, Nwachukwu has hauled in the pass and it's too late. The Aggies go up 40-0.