2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Get to know the Texas A&M Aggies


Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Texas A

With everything being officially official and Duke being just three weeks away from taking on Johnny Manziel and the No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies, it is time to start getting a feel for what the Blue Devils will be going up against.


Oct 12, 2013; Oxford, MS, USA; Texas A

Record: 8-4 (4-4 SEC)

Ranking: Highest – #6 | Lowest – #21 | Current – #21

Top Performers: QB, Manziel (3,732 passing yards, 33 TDs, 13 INTs) | WR, Evans (1,322 yards, 12 touchdowns) | Manela, RB (506 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns)

Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin | Record at A&M – 19-6 | Record Overall (A&M + Houston) – 54-23.

Offensive Coordinator: Jake Spavital/Clarence McKinney

Offensive Scheme: Air Raid/Spread

Defensive Coordinator: Mark Snyder


Oct 12, 2013; Oxford, MS, USA; Texas A

As much as you want to give credit to the rest of the group, Manziel is the heart, soul, legs, arms, kidneys, and lungs of the unit. Aside from being a stellar passer–he finished the regular season with 3,732 yards and 33 touchdowns–he was also the biggest contributor to the Aggies’ rushing attack, totaling 686 yards and 8 touchdowns along the way.

And while he certainly has lived up to all the hype following his 2012 Heisman-winning campaign, he seems to have taken a very (very very very very) tiny step backwards in 2013 in one area: protecting the ball.

Yes, perhaps Manziel’s biggest issue involves him being a bit of a risk taker throwing the football, specifically when he is under pressure. He has every right to be confident in his arm, as it the very same arm that is going to land him millions of dollars in the NFL, but he can be a bit overconfident at times, launching balls into double coverage and trying to fit the football into too small of windows.

This hitch was on display all throughout the year, with the quarterback tossing five interceptions over his final three contests (3 vs Mississippi State, 2 @ LSU, none @ Missouri) and finishing the year with just four interception-less games–one of which being the season opener against Rice, in which he only played for one half and threw the ball just eight times. In 2012, he finished seven games without an interception.

Aside from that, he is the complete package, boasting an elite blend of arm strength, accuracy, athleticism, and escape ability that makes him a threat to create big plays at any given moment.

When the ball isn’t in Manziel’s hands, however, the Aggies still do just fine.

Mike Evans–their 6’5″, 225 lb monster of a wide receiver–has utilized a combination of rare size and decent speed to terrorize secondaries all year, racking up 65 catches 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns. Derel Walker (705 yards, 4 touchdowns), Malcolm Kennedy (606 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Travis Labhart (550 yards, 5 touchdowns) have all been solid, as well.

Ben Malena leads the rushing attack with 506 yards and touchdowns on just 107 carries, good enough for a 4.7 ypc. The 5’9″, 195 pound back isn’t the biggest guy on the field, but he is certainly someone Duke will need to pay attention to. Malena is both physically and mentally quick, often shooting through the smallest of holes, and packs a big punch for a running back his size.

He can hit top speed in a hurry, as well, and has been clocked as low a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash.

As far as the offensive line goes, A&M is brutal. Left tackle Jake Matthews is probably the best offensive lineman in all of college football, and right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi is projected to go in the late first round, early second round should he decide to leave for the draft. Inside the tackles they are nearly as good, with guards Jarvis Harrison and Germain Ifedi shining, all while Jake’s little brother Mike Matthews holds it together at center.

Duke hasn’t been the greatest at getting to the quarterback this year, ranking 77th in the nation in sacks, and I don’t expect that to change here.


Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Texas A

The defense has been a bit of disaster.

After a bit of an offensive uprising in the SEC, complete with elite quarterback after elite quarterback, the Aggies’ defense was ripped to shreds on a weekly basis, giving up an average of 30.9 points (88th nationally) and 460.3 yards (105th nationally) per game. Their 134.1 passing efficiency against was also good enough for 85th.

While the SEC did have plenty of offense, the Aggies couldn’t seem to stop anyone all year. Rice dropped 31 on them in the season opener. Sam Houston State scored 28. Arkansas, who finished 3-9, totaled 483 yards and 33 points.

It was a mess of a time for a team that struggled to get to the quarterback (85th), stop the run (108th) or do, well, anything.

Special Teams

Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Texas A

Kicker Josh Lambo finished the year 43 for 44 on extra points and 7 for 8 on field goals. And while he certainly appears to be solid enough from short range, he has yet to attempt a field goal longer than 41 yards this year.

Punter Drew Kaser has been spectacular this year, as the Aggies currently rank 7th in the nation in net punting yards at 40.66. In total, Kaser has punted 44 times, averaging 47.4 yards per punt with a long of 76.

To expand on special teams, the Aggies rank 79th in punt returns (7.35 average), 73rd in kickoff returns (20.82 average), 96th in punt return defense (10.40 average), and 13th in kick return defense (18.34 average).