NCF Nation: Taylor McHargue



COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Plenty of excitement and drama at Kyle Field as Rice made the game interesting but Texas A&M eventually pulled away for a 52-31 win over the Owls behind a second-half offensive effort sparked by quarterback Johnny Manziel.

It was over when: Rice went scoreless on its first three drives of the third quarter. Texas A&M intercepted quarterback Taylor McHargue on consecutive drives to start the second half and turned those two picks into 10 points on offense, to turn a 10-point lead into a 38-21 advantage. The Owls responded to cut the lead back to 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Manziel led a six-play, 93-yard drive in 1:46 capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ben Malena for a 45-21 lead and the Aggies never looked back.

Game ball goes to: Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. Sure, it would be easy to give it to Manziel for sparking the second-half offensive effort, but Evans played a crucial role on the two touchdown drives that blew the game open for the Aggies. He caught the 23-yard touchdown pass from Manziel to give the Aggies a 38-21 lead at the 9:43 mark in the third quarter. Later, on an early fourth-quarter touchdown drive that extended the lead to 45-28, Evans threw a big block for Malcome Kennedy on a 34-yard reception that got the Aggies in the red zone, then had a quality downfield block that sprung Malena for the 18-yard touchdown reception.

Stat of the game: 509 total offensive yards for Rice. The Aggies' defense had a few question marks coming into the season and didn't help matters by some self-inflicted issues, with six key players, including five starters, missing all or part of the game due to suspensions. That meant a lot of freshmen and newcomers on the field and it showed as Rice moved the ball well early and ran the ball with consistency. Once the Aggies get some of their key players back it will be interesting to see how things play out, but an effort like the one seen on Saturday won't bode well for Texas A&M once it gets to SEC play.

Greetings from Kyle Field

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
12:15
PM ET
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- After what has been an eventful offseason, game day is finally here for Texas A&M.

The No. 7 Aggies host Conference USA foe Rice at 1 p.m. ET today, giving their fans a taste of real football after an offseason that involved a lot of headlines.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel will miss the first two quarters, serving a suspension announced Wednesday by Texas A&M and the NCAA after the investigation into allegations that he profited from autographs concluded.

The big question is, who's starting? The answer hasn't officially been made public at this point -- head coach Kevin Sumlin did say that both junior Matt Joeckel and true freshman Kenny Hill will play in the game.

The speculation seems to be that Joeckel will get the nod in the game's first series, though. Former Aggies defensive tackle Spencer Nealy posted a congratulatory message to Joeckel on his Twitter account on Friday night, tweeting:



The Aggies will be shorthanded on defense, with several players serving out suspensions stemming from offseason incidents. Starting defensive tackle Kirby Ennis and safety Floyd Raven, who is listed second on the depth chart at free safety, will miss the entire game. Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett, a starter best known for his interception that sealed A&M's upset victory at Alabama this year, will miss one half of action.

True freshman defensive tackle Hardreck Walker is the likely replacement for Ennis when the Aggies are in four defensive lineman alignments. Junior Clay Honeycutt is the starter at free safety after having a strong preseason training camp and look for a combination of Tramain Jacobs and Alex Sezer, Jr., to fill in for Everett when he's sitting.

Rice comes in with a veteran group, led by a fifth-year senior at quarterback in Taylor McHargue. This will be his fourth-straight opening game start; he is one of seven current FBS quarterbacks to have that distinction. The Owls will also be without a pair of defensive starters, linebacker Cameron Nwosu (injury) and cornerback Phillip Gaines.

In a day dominated by backup quarterbacks, Rice took down Air Force 33-14 in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl thanks to 26 unanswered points in the second half. It was Rice's first bowl appearance since the Owls beat Western Michigan 38-14 in the 2008 Texas Bowl.

It was over when: Rice junior safety Paul Porras intercepted Air Force quarterback Kale Pearson's pass at the Falcons' 36-yard line with Rice leading 27-14 with 3:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. Rice scored four plays later to make it 33-14.

Game ball goes to: Rice backup quarterback Driphus Jackson took over for starter Taylor McHargue late in the first half after McHargue suffered a head injury from a hit by Air Force's Steffon Batts. Jackson went on to complete 15 of 21 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

Stat of the game: Air Force entered the game averaging 435.9 yards of offense per game but was outgained 503-214 Saturday. That was a season low for the Falcons. Rice also registered 24 first downs to Air Force's 12. The Falcons recorded just two first downs in the second half.

Stat of the game 2: The Falcons owned the nation's No. 2 rushing attack, averaging 328.8 yards per game, but registered only 166 yards against the Owls, which were allowing nearly 200 rushing yards per game. Rice's rush defense stepped up in the second half, as the Owls allowed just 24 rushing yards in the final two quarters.

Unsung hero of the game: Jackson gave the Owls a nice spark in the second half, but he also got a lot of help from wide receiver Jordan Taylor, who caught nine passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns.

What it means for Rice: The Owls finished the season winning six of their final seven games and claimed its first bowl win since its last postseason appearance in 2008. It was only the second bowl win for Rice in the past 57 years.

What it means for Air Force: The Falcons ended the season losing four of their final five games, turning the ball over 17 times during that span. Air Force has lost two straight bowl games. For the first time since 2005, it lost to Army and Navy, lost its bowl game and had a losing season.

Non-AQ quarterback injury report

September, 14, 2010
9/14/10
4:53
PM ET
Injuries to quarterbacks at several non-AQ schools have started to mount. Here is a primer:

Houston

Injured: Case Keenum has mild concussion symptoms after getting hurt following an interception he threw against UTEP last week. His status is day-to-day.

Who's in: If Keenum can't play against UCLA on Saturday, Cotton Turner would get the nod. Turner went 9-of-10 for 69 yards with a touchdown in relief of Keenum against UTEP. "Our players, when he hit the field, there’s a confidence level in him and Friday night can only help everybody’s confidence level in him," coach Kevin Sumlin said.

Memphis

Who's injured: Cannon Smith sustained a concussion against East Carolina and is out for this week's game against Middle Tennessee.

Who's in: Ryan Williams, a true freshman, played well in relief of Smith last week, going 18-of-25 for 293 yards and three TDs. Williams has played in both games this season.

Middle Tennessee


Who's injured: The Blue Raiders are actually down to their third quarterback, following the suspension of starter Dwight Dasher. Logan Kilgore, who replaced him, missed last week's game against Austin Peay with a toe injury and is still in a walking boot.

Who's in: Jeff Murphy started last week and went 23-of-36 for 301 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Both he and Kilgore are junior college transfers playing their first season at Middle Tennessee.

North Texas

Who's injured: Nathan Tune dislocated his hip in a loss to Rice, and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Who's in: Derek Thompson. He has played sporadically and doesn't have much experience, but there isn't much depth here. Riley Dodge, the starter last season, moved to receiver because of elbow troubles but will go back to quarterback to help with depth.

Rice

Who's injured: Taylor McHargue sustained a mild shoulder separation against North Texas last week and is out for Saturday's game against Northwestern.

Who's in: Nick Fanuzzi, who started last season but lost his job to McHargue in the fall. Fanuzzi came in against the Mean Green and led the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter and finished 12-for-23 for 189 yards and a touchdown.

Utah

Injured: Jordan Wynn sprained the thumb on his throwing hand in the season opener against Pittsburgh and is listed as day to day. He missed last week's game against UNLV and his status is unclear for Saturday's game at New Mexico.

Who's in: Terrance Cain. He is a capable player, having started eight games last season. Against UNLV, Cain went 13-of-20 for 207 yards with two touchdown passes. "We’re fortunate to have Terrance Cain as our backup," coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We had no panic, no concern because we knew Terrance was going to step in and get the job done."
Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program heading into the spring:

Central Florida Knights
Spring practice starts: March 19
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:
  • The Knights will need to develop offensive line talent after allowing 2.54 sacks per game and failing to block for a rushing offense that ranked 82nd in the country. The Knights return all but two offensive linemen and have one coming in the spring.
  • The quarterback battle will heat up with early enrollee Jeffrey Godfrey, who already has impressed coach George O’Leary. Godfrey will compete against Rob Calabrese for the starting role.
  • The Knights will have to find replacements for three key members of the defensive line -- DE Jarvis Geathers, RT Torrell Troup, LT Travis Timmons. The defense was the main reason the Knights finished 8-5 and won their final five games.
East Carolina Pirates
Spring practice starts: March 22
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:
  • With a new coach, a new system, and a crop of new starters, East Carolina will have its work cut out for it this spring. New head coach Ruffin McNeill needs to replace 15 players with starting experience, which won’t be easy with just a month to work.
  • The most underrated positions the Pirates have to fill are punter and kicker. All-American Matt Dodge is gone as is kicker Ben Hartman, who set the school record for career scoring. Finding replacements for those two is a top priority.
  • New offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will be implement Texas Tech’s offensive system with just two scholarship quarterbacks and a team that relied on its running game. Riley is confident he can install all of his spread offense this fall, but there’s no telling how quickly the Pirates will pick it up.
Houston Cougars
Spring practice starts: March 27
Spring game: April 24

What to watch:
  • The one thing that really kept Houston from an undefeated season was its defense. Brian Stewart, who was named the defensive coordinator in January, inherits a young team with a lot of talent, but he has some work to do to catch the defense up to the offense by September.
  • Quarterback Case Keenum returns for his senior season, but his center, Carl Barnett, does not. Barnett started 39 games, so Keenum will have to establish a good rapport with his new center this spring. Blake Sargent, who was the backup last year, appears to be the front-runner.
  • Even though the Cougars did not lose many starters on offense, coach Kevin Sumlin will look for more athletic players to rotate into the mix. Last season, 19 players had at least one catch and 12 had double-digit catches.

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