UTEP vs. Texas A&M: 10 Things We Learned in Aggies' Win
Usually there's not much to learn in a blowout victory, but Texas A&M always seems to keep things interesting even when the game is over within the first 20 minutes. The Aggies improve to 7-2 on the season and keep their BCS bowl hopes alive with a commanding 57-7 win over UTEP.
The Miners couldn't handle the offensive firepower and found themselves in a world of trouble before halftime. As expected, they drop to 1-7 on the year after not putting up much of a fight and finishing the final three quarters scoreless.
So, what did we learn?
One running back suffered a scary injury, a popular player is back in discussions for an individual award and Texas A&M's defense may be finally turning the corner.
Tra Carson Is Hurt
In one of the scarier moments of the college football season, running back Tra Carson went down with an injury. It appeared to be a head or neck injury and required him to leave the field on a stretcher. Kyle Field was as quiet as it has ever been.
The good news is that he appears to be just fine and a lot of the stuff the trainers did was for precautionary measures, as Carson tweeted later after the game.
That's great to hear, but it doesn't mean the Aggies are out of the woods yet. The sophomore may miss a couple of games, which means Ben Malena and Trey Williams may have a heavier workload moving forward.
Aaron Jones Is One to Watch
UTEP isn't going to get much love from this contest, but freshman running back Aaron Jones is certainly somebody to keep an eye on heading into next season.
He finished the game with 62 yards on 22 carries and had the only touchdown of the game for the Miners. He displays an impressive combination of speed and power, and he obviously has the workload mentality that all great running backs need.
Jones leads the country in rushing yards for freshmen. He may play on a poor team now, but he's clearly a solid building block and should accomplish great things in his career.
Ben Malena Is Still Severely Underrated
Speaking of another running back, Ben Malena is somebody who could be a workhorse on pretty much any college football team in the country.
Instead, he's just another player in an offense that loves to spread the ball around. He finished the game with only 45 rushing yards on four carries, but he showcased that incredible burst and broke off an impressive 23-yard run early in the game.
The Aggies only ran the ball 30 times, and 10 of those rushes came from a quarterback. It's a shame that the coaching staff relies so much on the passing game when the backfield is loaded with talent. Malena is a star in the making.
Mike Evans Isn't the Only Receiver
Guess who led the Aggies in receiving?
If you guessed Mike Evans, you guessed wrong.
The answer is Travis Labhart.
The senior caught four passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Malcome Kennedy was second with four receptions, 63 yards and one touchdown. While Evans gets all of the credit and deservedly so, Texas A&M proved that it does have other guys who are capable of making plays when Evans is consistently drawing two of three defenders.
This offense just got a lot scarier.
But He's Still Pretty Good
Mike Evans actually had an off night with only four receptions, 46 yards and a touchdown. He dropped a few passes, struggled to get open and was getting frustrated at times.
But even with those struggles, he still managed to make a play in the third quarter. A 26-yard touchdown reception ties him with Jeff Fuller for the most touchdown receptions in a single season by an Aggie (12), per Texas A&M's Twitter feed.
Considering the sophomore now has seven touchdowns in the last three games, it's safe to assume he'll surpass this record next week against Mississippi State. Welcome to the record book, Evans.
UTEP Isn't Nearly as Bad as Its Record Indicates
OK, a 1-7 record isn't pretty.
A 57-7 loss is just as ugly.
But let's cut this UTEP team a little bit of slack; there is youth everywhere on this roster. Quarterback Blaire Sullivan is only a sophomore, running back Aaron Jones is a freshman and leading tackler Devin Cockrell is also a first-year player.
There aren't many seniors on this roster, and the tons of young players proved that they are talented enough to make some noise in a year or two. Laugh at UTEP while you can. I see this roster developing into a respectable team sooner rather than later.
Kenny Hill Will Make Texas A&M Fans Happy
Texas A&M fans don't know much about Kenny Hill, a freshman who hasn't experienced much playing time due to some guy named Johnny Manziel running the show.
But he did see significant minutes in the second half and showed an impressive skill set. He completed five of six passes for 57 yards and ran three times for 22 yards. He has above-average arm strength, decent accuracy and is quite mobile for a guy who stands in at 6'1", 215 pounds.
Hill has the look of a bigger Manziel!
Of course, expecting him to fill those shoes would be insane, but Hill has a bright future and gives Texas A&M fans a reason to get exited once "Johnny Football" leaves campus.
The Aggies Making Defensive Strides?
Believe it or not, Texas A&M actually had an impressive defensive showing. It's usually a unit that allows ridiculous numbers and a large amount of big plays. That wasn't the case against UTEP.
The Aggies only allowed 198 total yards, forced four turnovers and allowed the Miners to convert on only four of 15 third-down attempts. The defensive front applied great pressure, and the secondary made terrific plays on the ball and forced timely turnovers to give the ball back to the offense.
Was this a case of UTEP's offense being so bad? Is the defense really turning the corner? A combination of both?
Either way, the Texas A&M coaching staff will take it as a positive.
The Team Still Needs to Wake Up
Despite the beatdown, the eye-popping numbers and everything else that comes with it, the fact that the Aggies came out of the gate slow is a little alarming. Texas A&M only led 9-7 at halftime, and the Miners forced three early three-and-outs on defense.
It got to the point where Manziel had to gather the team on the sidelines and let them know that the performance was inexcusable. Of course, it will likely go unnoticed due to the overwhelming and effortless win, but the Aggies wouldn't have been able to get away with such a sloppy first quarter against LSU or Missouri.
Seeing how quickly this team starts next week against Mississippi State will be interesting.
Manziel Is Back in the Heisman Race
Manziel still isn't the favorite to win a second Heisman, but this performance put him back on the radar and gives him a shot.
The extremely talented quarterback accounted for six touchdowns, passed for 273 yards and rushed for 67 yards on seven carries. Talk about the competition all you'd like, those are impressive numbers no matter who you play.
Manziel was a human highlight reel as usual and made it look too easy in yet another victory. With LSU and Missouri on tap, the reigning Heisman winner at least gave himself a chance to make a serious impression on voters.