Johnny Manziel may still stand at the center of attention, but his supporting cast within the Texas A&M backfield has proven to be just deadly, especially when their talents were called upon Saturday night.
With Arkansas within one possession and rain pouring down on Reynolds Razorback Stadium, head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney turned to the Aggies' loaded running back corps for production.
Nine handoffs later—a majority to sophomore Trey Williams—and the Aggies surged to a touchdown and a 38-27 lead on the Razorbacks. The drive represented everything A&M had moved away from offensively the past year and half: slow, relentless and a ground-and-pound style.
Over the course of Texas A&M's 45-33 victory Saturday evening over Arkansas, the Aggies rushing attack proved vital to success down the stretch, and a bulk came outside of Manziel's trusty scrambling ability.
Due to a slippery environment and Manziel's favorite target—sophomore Mike Evans—working through an early injury, the running back corps' 205 yards and three touchdowns became the rift between a solid A&M victory and a possible crushing defeat.
Trey Williams, just two weeks removed from returning from a minor ankle sprain, exploded against the Razorbacks, contributing nine carries for a score and with a group-leading 83 yards. Additionally, sophomore transfer Tra Carson showed off his size and power capacity, earning 64 yards with nine carries of his own.
Senior Ben Malena, a team captain and unit leader, found a majority of the carries, grabbing 12 for 40 yards and two touchdowns.
Ultimately, though, the team's showing against Arkansas proved A&M's offensive prowess extends beyond Manziel and his arsenal of receiving weapons. With adverse weather and an Arkansas defense keying off the sophomore quarterback, the consistency and poise shown by the loaded backfield yielded results the Aggies were able to build off of the remainder of the night.
Since Manziel's breakout last season, opposing defenses have been unable to slow him down, as his unpredictability and athletic skill has generated national attention with no end in sight. However, the versatility of the offense's run game will seek to keep defenses honest when matching up with the Aggies.
Down the stretch of the season, A&M's talented running back corps will hope to provide a vital outlet for an offense that seeks to maintain balance between its pass and run games. With Manziel providing the spark, the combination of Malena, Trey Williams, Carson and Brandon Williams will work to keep the metaphorical engine running.
Against Arkansas, the unit gained a repertoire for consistency, and with seven games remaining on the schedule, that dependability will be key for A&M's continued success.