DALLAS -- Texas A&M recovered from a slow start to reel off 20 second-quarter points and take a commanding lead into the locker room at halftime against SMU on Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Stat of the half: Texas A&M's defense has been effective in getting off the field, holding SMU to 1-of-10 on third-down conversion tries. They've hassled quarterback Garrett Gilbert some, though Gilbert is having his own struggles with accuracy, going 11-for-26 passing in the half. SMU running back Zach Line has 28 yards on seven carries and hasn't been much of a factor. Aggies defensive end Damontre Moore started the game with a sack on the first drive, his fourth of the year, and the secondary has played well despite missing starting safety Steven Campbell, one of two A&M players suspended for this game.
Player of the half: Once again, it's quarterback Johnny Manziel. You could make an argument for redshirt freshman receiver Mike Evans, but we'll give the nod to Manziel for his electric 48-yard second-quarter touchdown dash. Manziel, the redshirt freshman who is making just his second start, is 13-of-26 passing for 202 yards and has rushed for a game-high 82 yards on 10 carries, including that aforementioned touchdown run. He found Ryan Swope on a 29-yard catch-and-run for the first touchdown and made a difficult throw, rolling right and going to the middle of the field to find Uzoma Nwachukwu for a 26-yard scoring strike.
What’s working for the Aggies: Passes to Mike Evans. The redshirt freshman has been nothing short of impressive, catching six passes for 123 yards. The 6-foot-5, 218-pounder has only played organized football for two seasons -- his last year of prep ball at Galveston (Texas) Ball High and his redshirt year at Texas A&M -- but he appears to be ahead of the curve. He has effectively used his size against smaller defensive backs and has enough speed to be a big-time deep threat. Through two games, it appears he may be emerging into a receiver Manziel can lean on, lofting up deep passes and allowing Evans to go make a play on them.
What’s not working for the Aggies: The run game. With starting running back Christine Michael suspended, the Aggies are down to two backs -- junior Ben Malena and true freshman Trey Williams -- and neither has been particularly productive. Malena has 18 yards on four carries; Williams has 6 yards on three totes.
What Texas A&M needs to do to win: Continue to play solid third-down defense and move the football offensively. The offense, after being stagnant in the first quarter, appears to have hit a rhythm. If it can keep that going, the Aggies will cruise to an easy win.