Sophomore Kyle Allen had an up-and-down game in No. 16 Texas A&M’s season-opening win over Arizona State last week.
Along with bouncing back from some inconsistency, he also had to handle coach Kevin Sumlin inserting Kyler Murray in at quarterback for a few possessions after he’d beaten the freshman for the starting job.
Allen responded well after his time on the bench, accounting for two scores in the fourth quarter and impressing coaches with his poise along the way.
Allen will start again this week when Texas A&M hosts Ball State, but Sumlin hasn’t ruled out Murray seeing some work again.
“I was very pleased with how Kyle handled it and the maturity that he had throughout that whole process,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “Because that could go two different ways.”
Allen said that Spavital talked with him when Murray entered the game, reminding him that he’d have another chance.
“[He said]: ‘Don’t go over and pout,’” Allen said. “So it was just keeping focused, keeping my mind right because I knew I was going to go back in.”
Allen is only 19, but enrolled at A&M when he was 17 and started the last five games in 2014 after Kenny Hill was benched. That experience was important to him in handling everything that happened in the opener.
“I’m a much more confident player this year than I was last year and I understand that I can do stuff with my feet in the SEC and in college football now,” Allen said.
Murray has drawn comparisons to 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for his size and scrambling ability after leading his high school to a 43-0 record and three straight state titles.
Sumlin thought he showed promise in his debut and said that the experience will be important as the season progresses. He joked about how hard he was breathing when he came out after his first series.
“I looked over at him and started smiling,” Sumlin said. “He said: ‘I can’t breathe and those guys out there are fast.’ First time it hit him [that] maybe he’s not the fastest guy on the field all the time.”
Whoever is at quarterback will be throwing to one of the more dynamic freshmen in the country. Christian Kirk had 106 yards receiving against Arizona State with a touchdown to become the first freshman in school history to reach 100 yards receiving in his debut. He also had a 79-yard punt return for a score.
The Aggies are 15-0 in non-conference games under Sumlin.
Today will be the first game since Kyle Field underwent a $485 million redevelopment.
Ball State at Texas A&M
6 p.m. today, Kyle Field, College Station