Johnny Football? Try Kenny Football.
The Texas A&M Aggies may be without Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, but their offense appears to be just fine under the guidance of succeeding quarterback Kenny Hill.
During Thursday's college football season opener, Hill torched the No. 9 South Carolina defense through the air in a 52-28 victory.
Hill completed 27-of-35 passes for 299 yards and two scores in the first half. That would be a respectable full-game stat line against a top-10 SEC foe, much less 50 percent of a day's work.
But Hill wasn't finished there. Far from it.
The sophomore signal-caller kept the Aggies rolling on the road, finishing 44-of-60 passing for 511 yards and three scores. ESPN Stats & Info observed just how amazing Hill was in his electrifying first start:
Twitter had plenty to say throughout Hill's breakout performance against the Gamecocks, which supplied the 21st-ranked Aggies with a wave of optimism in the post-Manziel era.
For one, Manziel thought the nickname given to Hill by yours truly—and the trending Twittersphere—was fitting:
SEC Sports highlighted the elite company Hill already joined:
ESPN Radio's Ian Fitzsimmons opted for a Manziel reference in light of recent events:
Todd Fuhrman of Fox Sports 1 put Hill's numbers in excellent context:
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller opted for a different Hill nickname than the one in this story's lede:
ESPN's College GameDay captured a fitting quote from commentator Brent Musburger:
Check out this number from ESPN Stats & Info:
NFL.com's Bryan Fischer observed how Texas A&M's relentless energy was too much to handle even in the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia:
Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman alluded to the Gamecocks' stellar home record:
Jason King of Bleacher Report added an interesting anecdote:
CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd—along with others who become privy to this knowledge, to be sure—was perplexed as to how Hill's counterpart, Dylan Thompson, technically fared better in the opening half:
Thompson had a fine, explosive game himself (20-of-40, 366 yards, four touchdowns and one interception), but it paled in comparison to the heights Hill reached. As for the comparisons between Hill and Manziel, how about this one from SportsCenter:
Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy knows what it takes to succeed in the SEC, and he praised Texas A&M's entire offensive unit:
As TAMU Gameday put forth, all contributors on the Aggies side did indeed warrant credit—even with Hill as the clear tone-setter:
The Aggies actually wound up with 680 total yards after that tweet.
South Carolina lost No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Jadeveon Clowney this last year, though it likely wouldn't have fared much better even with him.
An uptempo, air raid offense coveted by Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin has produced prolific passing attacks in both his stints at the helm of the Houston Cougars and now in College Station. Hill, the son of a former MLB pitcher (h/t Brendan Wilhide on Twitter) drove Texas A&M down the field at will.
Save for one three-and-out on the last first-quarter possession and one play just before the halftime intermission, the Aggies scored every time they possessed the ball in the first half, putting the game out of reach early. With a rather weak defense supporting him and the Gamecocks producing plenty of big plays of their own, there was no lack of composure from Hill, who looked like a veteran despite the immense pressure he was under to replace Manziel.
Perhaps another Texas A&M QB will be striking the Heisman pose soon enough if this electric debut by Hill is any sign of what's to come. However, the hype will only increase, along with the expectations. It remains to be seen if Hill can handle that, particularly after Manziel, a larger-than-college-life personality.
Since the Aggies held on to win this one in such dominant fashion, they ought to receive quite a boost in the rankings. A similar springboard effect should hold true for the surprising Hill's Heisman stock.
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