GAME NOTES: The sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies will try to keep their perfect
season alive on Saturday night when they take on the winless SMU Mustangs in
an intrastate clash at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Texas A&M has barely broken a sweat during the early going this season, as
each of its three wins have come by at least 24 points. The Aggies had a
statement victory in its opener on the road at nationally-ranked South
Carolina (52-28), then followed that up with predictable blowouts of Lamar
(73-3) and Rice (38-10) to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2010.
SMU’s disappointing 0-2 start to the year, which included convincing losses at
the hands of Baylor (45-0) and North Texas (43-6), led to a major program
shakeup with June Jones announcing his resignation after six-plus seasons at
the helm. Tom Mason, who has served as the team’s defensive coordinator since
2008, will act as the interim head coach.
“I would like to thank all the people here at SMU that have supported the
vision we have had here,” Jones said. “I feel we have made SMU relevant again
in football by going to four bowls in my six years as a Mustang. I am thankful
for the opportunity I was given and wish only the best for the player, coaches
and administration at SMU.”
“June’s decision to resign was his own,” SMU Director of Athletics Tom Hart
said. “And we thank him for his efforts and wish him the best.”
Texas A&M holds a 44-29-7 advantage over SMU in an intrastate rivalry that
dates back to 1916. In the three matchups since 2011, the Aggies have
outscored the Mustangs, 136-30.
Kevin Sumlin’s high-octane offensive attack has not skipped a beat in the 2014
campaign, as the Aggies are putting up 54.3 ppg and 595.7 ypg, which rank
second and fourth in the nation, respectively.
Kenny Hill took the torch from Johnny Manziel in the offseason and has
performed well in the early going. The gun slinger is completing greater than
69 percent of his passes for 1,094 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero
Even with the success of the offense, Hill was not satisfied with the unit’s
38-point performance against Rice, inferring that the Aggies left a lot of
points on the field.
“We just weren’t really clicking and we weren’t executing the way that we want
to,” Hill said. “We are going to get that fixed and be ready to go.”
Malcome Kennedy has emerged as Hill’s go-to receiving option with 24
receptions for 258 yards and a touchdown, and he’s one of five receivers with
double-digit catches and at least 150 yards. Speedy Noil (12 receptions, 197
yards, TD) is listed as questionable with an undisclosed injury.
The effective rushing attack consists of three high-quality rushers – Trey
Williams (22 carries, 142 yards, two TDs), Brandon Williams (20 carries, 119
yards) and Tra Carson (18 carries, 96 yards, four TDs).
As outstanding as Texas A&M’s offense has been, it’s the vast improvement of
the defense that makes this squad a legitimate contender. The unit gives up
just 13.7 ppg.
Myles Garrett is one of the nation’s best pass-rushers with 6.5 TFL and 5.5
sacks to go with another four QB hurries. Howard Matthews has a team-best 24
tackles, and Armani Watts and Deshazor Everett each have an interception.
SMU boasts one of the nation’s worst offenses in the early going this season,
as it has scored just six points in two games, while amassing a mere 171.5
To make matters worse, quarterback Neal Burcham (27-of-48, 158 yards, two
INTs) will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury. Kolney Cassel
(14-of-29, 154 yards, TD) will make his first career start, with Matt Davis
(4-of-8, 45 yards, TD) waiting in the wings.
Der’rikk Thompson has team highs in both receptions (eight) and yards (95),
while Nate Halverson (four receptions, 65 yards) has the team’s lone
The Mustangs’ rushing attack has been especially bad, as they rush for
negative-7 yards per game. Kevin Pope is the lead back with 14 carries for 42
SMU’s defense hasn’t been good either, allowing 44.0 ppg and 463.5 ypg,
although it deserves a little bit of credit for holding Baylor to its lowest
point total of the year (45 points).
Jonathan Yenga leads the way with 15 tackles, Ajee Montes has 13 tackles and a
fumble recovery and Hayden Greenbauer has 12 tackles and an interception. The
unit has registered just one sack, courtesy of Zelt Minor.
SMU has the homefield advantage on its side but not much else, as the team is
in an obvious rebuilding period both on and off the field. Texas A&M has been
rolling along and should continue its dominance in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 55, SMU 10