Texas A&M closed out its fifth spring under Kevin Sumlin with Saturday’s spring game, as the Maroon squad (offense) prevailed over the White squad (defense), 42-38. Here’s how the different units graded out.
Quarterback Trevor Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, shined during his first outing at A&M, completing 25 of 36 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. His lone blemish came in the form of a first-quarter interception, but otherwise he looked comfortable in offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s scheme. Jake Hubenak, the Aggies’ quarterback during the 2015 Music City Bowl, was suffering from flu-like symptoms and only completed 5 of 10 passes for 36 yards.
The wide receivers were solid for A&M, including Christian Kirk, who fired a 36-yard touchdown pass to Speedy Noil on a trick play. Senior Boone Niederhofer caught two touchdowns of his own, and running back Kwame Etwi led the way with 72 rushing yards and a TD on 11 carries.
During Sumlin’s postgame press conference, he mentioned that the defense has a number of NFL-caliber players. One such athlete is safety Armani Watts, who intercepted Knight, laid out a big hit in the first half and swarmed the field with speed and confidence. The defensive line created a lot of pressure, too, especially ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, who consistently disrupted the Maroon team’s passing game.
The cornerbacks didn’t fare quite as well, giving up some big plays downfield — most of which came down the sidelines. The tackling was sound, there weren’t many blown coverages and very few yards were given up after the catch, but receivers were left open too frequently to slow down the Maroon squad’s air attack. The run defense wasn’t inspiring, either.
Special teams: C
The returners played a fundamentally sound game, but kicker Daniel LaCamera missed both of his field goal tries — one off the left upright, the other wide right. In LaCamera’s defense, his first miss was from 53 yards, and he converted on all seven extra-point attempts.
Overall grade: B
The most encouraging part of this game was, without a doubt, Knight’s performance. While Sumlin doesn’t appear ready to name a starting QB just yet, the ex-Sooner proved he has a solid grasp on Mazzone’s offense and can move the ball with his arm and feet.
A&M’s defense was far from perfect, but nevertheless, this matchup was even from start to finish. That has to be encouraging for the 12th Man.