Instant Analysis: Kenny Hill's Big Day
By Russ Mitchell
Kevin Sumlin - you dahling, you look mahvelous.
Say what you will about all the great quarterbacks, the big offensive linemen … say what you will about the stud receivers, and the offensive coordinators. You keep rotating all the moving parts, and the one constant that stays is Sumlin.
Since he took the Houston job in 2008, a Kevin Sumlin-led offense has never finished lower that 11th best in the nation, and from what we saw on Thursday night in Columbia, SC, 2014 will make it seven straight.
A star is born in sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill. On the road in an electric Williams-Brice stadium, which last witnessed the home team lose on October 1, 2011 (16-13 to Auburn), Hill was simply surgical. 44-of-60, 511 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
In just the first 30 minutes.
Best brush up that resume, Kyle Allen.
Conversely, outside of picking on TAMU’s young/inexperienced secondary with some deep passing touchdowns and pass interference calls, the Gamecocks’ Dylan Thompson looked the second fiddle quarterback all night – to Hill and his predecessor, Connor Shaw.
Thompson’s situation wasn’t aided by the absence of star tailback Mike Davis. We’ll likely soon learn that the talented junior is hurt more than many realized heading into the game, but Davis accounted for just 16 total yards on seven touches in the first half, and never seemed to really get his feet under him.
Suddenly, the presumptive SEC East favorite is under the gun, and should be deeply questioning whether its own young secondary will be able to keep up during what now looks like a long SEC road ahead.
Meanwhile, the Gig ‘em gang in College Stadium is giddy. And Sumlin is looking more and more like a modern day college football genius.
By Pete Fiutak
Kenny Next. Kenny System. Kenny Sequel.
The beautiful part about the 680 Manziel/Evans/Matthews-less yards was how clinical and surgical the blowout was.
Did Texas A&M care a lick about the South Carolina home field advantage and all of its energy? Nine plays, 67 yards, touchdown.
Nick Jones hit a 69-yard home run to seemingly turn things back around for the Gamecocks. What did Hill and A&M come up with? Nine plays, 85 yards, touchdown.
It was a coldly efficient, brutally effective performance by a team that seemed hell bent on proving that no, you don’t need a bunch of dopey hand gestures and a lot of flash to win in the SEC. No, you don’t need flair and style if you block, tackle, and execute like you’re supposed to. If it’s even possible, Texas A&M made 680 yards and 52 points look sort of … mundane.
And now the expectations have changed. Now A&M isn’t just going to be a travelling fun show; it looks like a team with enough defense and enough cool to do something Manziel didn’t – win something team-wise that really matters.
South Carolina really is good, and it’ll show it over the rest of the season, but now we know that Texas A&M is going to be right there in the hunt for the West title all season long. Of course, teams now have film on Hill and the revamped Aggies, but it won’t matter.
Kenny Cool seems ready to handle it.
E-mail Rich Cirminiello
Follow me ... @RichCirminiello
It’s the system (and the Sumlin), stupid.
Kenny Hill was brilliant tonight in Columbia. In his first career start, he carved up a good South Carolina D to snap the Gamecocks’ 18-game home winning streak. His poise and precision caught everyone by surprise, and ought to make the rest of the SEC West a little edgy. But this evening’s shocker spoke more to the brilliance of head coach Kevin Sumlin—and his entire offensive staff—than it did the exploits of one individual Aggie.
Few coaches are doing a better job than Sumlin of preparing young quarterbacks for success, in College Station and beyond. And recruits across the state of Texas know it. Not only is the system tailor-made for aerial fireworks, but it speaks volumes about the staff’s teaching ability that its pupils need such little time to develop. It’s no coincidence that Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a rookie, and Hill was otherworldly in his first significant action since leaving high school. Very talented quarterbacks, no doubt. But only special coaches, like Sumlin, can bring that talent to the surface so doggone quickly.
There’s life after Johnny Football. And there’ll be life after Hill someday as well … provided Sumlin remains an Aggie. When the coach is right, rebuilding never enters the playbook. Texas A&M didn’t just hang 52 on South Carolina; the Aggies remarkably did it four months after losing three offensive players to the first round of the NFL Draft.
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
This was supposed to be the year that the Head Ball Coach broke through and took the Gamecocks to an SEC East division title and maybe more. This was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year in College Station with the departure of Johnny something or another ...
It still might be – this was only one game, but this game was anything but a ringing endorsement of South Carolina’s ability to take the SEC football world by storm. Its defense had more holes than a Swiss-cheese whiffle ball, and the offense made far too many mistakes trying to play from behind to get itself out of the hole.
Maybe the ‘Cocks will be just fine and rebound from this, but it’ll take a monumental change in psyche, with an ability to put this one in the rear-view and move forward. That’s easier said than done.
For Texas A&M, what a statement. It’s not time to start surfing travel sites for vacation packages to Atlanta just yet, but it’s clear that this team was more than Johnny Manziel last year, and evident that Kevin Sumlin knows what he’s doing.
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