After North Dakota State’s upset win over Kansas State on Friday August 30, can any team really just notch a win on their belt. For Texas A&M, they’ve had a enough distractions from the outside world to relish playing on game day. Still, the first half Johnny Manziel suspension can get dicey if the replacement quarterbacks can’t gain early confidence against Rice. Game starts at 1 p.m. et on ESPN.
According to CBSsports.com, Rice won’t have their Conference USA preseason defensive player of the year available. Cornerback Phillip Gaines is suspended for violating a team rule. That does not bode well for the Rice Owls against the biggest wide receiver tandem in college.
As Johnny Manziel was being investigated by the NCAA, consistent reports stated that he was receiving the vast majority of first team snaps. Now in the first half, they will use Matt Joeckel or Kenny Hill at quarterback. Joeckel, a junior has thrown 11 passes in his entire career, while Hill is a freshman talent new to the Aggie campus.
If Texas A&M wants to stay consistent, they will use Hill since his talents lineup with what Johnny Manziel does on the field. If they are trying to give a different look, then they will definitely use Matt Joeckel. It shouldn’t be out of the question that Texas A&M use both quarterbacks in the first half.
No matter who is behind center, running back Ben Malena needs to get the ball quite a bit. Texas A&M needs to establish dominance early on Rice’s front seven. The offensive line is still fantastic and they will the advantage most days.
When Johnny Manziel enters the second half, we expect that the football world will be watching every minute. Every throw will be critiqued. Many people want to see if he’s lost anything since winning the Heisman last season.
Defensively, the Aggies must control the Rice running game. Typically Rice uses great balance between the run and pass. Texas A&M has two defensive backs suspended for this game, including Deshazor Everett (Alabama interception) for the first half.
The Verdict: By the end of last year, you could argue that Texas A&M was the best team in the nation. They were putting up video game numbers at times. Look for the offensive explosions to continue on Saturday.
Texas A&M 48