Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin says QBs efficient in spring game
As Texas A&M dropped the curtain Saturday on the most pivotal spring football session of the Kevin Sumlin coaching era, the Aggies did so while unveiling two undeniable truths in Kyle Field.
Truth No. 1: Few, if any, teams in college football will feature a more disruptive player next season than A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. The Arlington Martin graduate collected a half-sack and turned heads in Saturday’s spring game, as expected.
Trevor Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, flashed far more promise and polish in Saturday’s spring game than Jake Hubenak, a former walk-on at Oklahoma State.
But the most eye-opening truth occurred in the highest-profile showcase to date in the Great Aggieland Quarterback Reclamation Project.
Trevor Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, flashed far more promise and polish in Saturday’s spring game than Jake Hubenak, a former walk-on at Oklahoma State who was listed as the team’s No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart distributed to media members before the game.
Knight, who directed the first two possessions of the scrimmage despite his status on the depth chart, led the offense to three touchdowns in nine possessions. Hubenak, who made his lone Division I start in last year’s 27-21 loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl, oversaw four three-and-out possessions on a day when the offense produced six touchdowns and outlasted the defense 42-38 in the scoring system used by coaches to assign defensive points.
We’ll evaluate things. We’re on our own timeline for that. I thought both of them, when they were in there, were pretty good.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on the quarterbacks
One caveat, though. Sumlin said Hubenak battled flu-like symptoms during the contest and coaches limited his snaps after watching him struggle in his first-half possessions. He did not return in the second half, with Sumlin declaring the starting job wide open until further notice.
“We’ll evaluate things. We’re on our own timeline for that,” Sumlin said. “I thought both of them, when they were in there, were pretty good.”
That brings us to the biggest truth to take away from spring drills: Sumlin needs one of these guys to separate from the other, in a big way, heading into a 2016 season that will be defined by the Aggies’ play at quarterback. That standard is inevitable after last year’s 8-5 season ended with a pair of five-star quarterbacks headed to other programs as transfers (Kyle Allen to Houston, Kyler Murray to Oklahoma).
Trevor Knight completed 25 of 36 passes for 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also scored on a 2-yard run on a zone read.
Knight, who enrolled in January, appeared to take the first several steps in that direction Saturday regardless of how the names stacked up on the pre-game depth chart. And regardless of any virus that ailed Hubenak.
He completed 25 of 36 passes for 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also scored on a 2-yard run on a zone read. He seemed decisive and crisp in his execution. Receiver Boone Niederhofer, who caught both of Knight’s TD passes, said Knight has turned heads since arriving on campus.
“Before spring practice started, we could see Trevor was a good athlete and a good leader, just like Jake was,” Niederhofer said. “It’s been cool to see both those guys take leadership roles and kind of take control of the team.”
Before bowing out early, Hubenak connected on 5 of 10 passes for 46 yards. But third-teamer Connor McQueen was more effective Saturday. And, arguably, the most impressive pass of the scrimmage was thrown by receiver Christian Kirk, who found Speedy Noil for a 36-yard scoring strike on a trick play.
The website CoachesHotSeat.com pegged Kevin Sumlin as being on the nation’s hottest coaching seat in college football.
Sumlin said Knight “got more snaps than we wanted him to get” during the contest because of Hubenak’s ailment. But that also gave coaches more videotape to grade of the player Sumlin called the “most important” addition to his 2016 signing class because Knight, as a fifth-year senior with 15 career starts at Oklahoma, brings a level of experience and moxie to this offense that no other player on the roster can offer.
Sumlin will need all of those intangibles if this team is going to improve on last year’s 8-5 mark in a season that will begin with Sumlin on the hot seat because of last year’s quarterback defections. The website CoachesHotSeat.com pegged him Saturday as being on the nation’s hottest coaching seat in college football. A solid start to September could cool things considerably and Knight offers the best chance to make that happen.
Neither quarterback was made available for interview Saturday. But Sumlin make it clear that Knight made a positive impression.
“I saw Trevor operate from the pocket. But he also was able to extend some plays with his legs and move around a little bit, which helps the protection,” Sumlin said. “And when he moved around, he was pretty accurate when he did it. I thought the quarterbacks were pretty efficient.”
Eventually, Sumlin must pick one. Saturday’s evidence overwhelmingly favored Knight. Regardless of how the names were listed on the depth chart.