AUBURN | Auburn steps back into the spotlight on the national stage this week, visiting Texas A&M for the very first time. The Aggies are ranked No. 7 while Auburn is in the Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 24.
Head Coach Kevin Sumlin is in his second season with the Aggies. His 11 victories in 2012 earned him SEC Coach of the Year honors. Considered one of the top offensive minds in college football, Sumlin was a standout linebacker at Purdue from 1983-1986.
A&M runs one of the most prolific offenses in the country, a spread with multiple formations. The Aggies typically deploy with "10" personnel (one running back, zero tight ends). They will go twins to both sides, trips to one side and sometimes five-wide on obvious passing downs.
The offense is led by 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel (6-1, 200, Soph.). Manziel averages 6.5 yards per carry and 71.2 rushing yards per game. He's completed 73.2% of his pass attempts, averages 306 yards per game passing.
The offensive line is anchored by left tackle Jake Matthews (6-5, 305, Sr.) and his younger brother Mike Matthews (6-2, 285, Soph.). A&M uses a lot of inside zone plays and the line executes those blocks pretty well. Pass protection is solid, but with Manziel's elusiveness, it almost doesn't matter. A&M quarterbacks have been sacked seven times this season.
Other than quarterback, the strength of the offense is the wide receivers. Manziel takes a lot of chances in the passing game and his wide receivers usually make those gambles pay off.
Sophomore Mike Evans (6-5, 225) might be the most physical wide receiver in the SEC. He is certainly one of the most talented -- with 32 receptions in six games, and a remarkable 23 yards per catch. Seniors Travis Labhart (5-9, 182) and Derel Walker (6-2, 185) and junior Malcome Kennedy (6-0, 200) all run extremely well and catch the ball consistently. Kennedy is the second-leading receiver with 30 catches. When the Aggue choose to use a tight end, Cameron Clear (6-6, 270) is the starter.
He is very athletic for a big man.
A&M uses three or four tailbacks. Ben Malena (5-9, 185, Sr.) is considered the starter, but Trey Williams (5-8, 195, Soph.) plays often. Sophomore Tra Carson (6-0, 230) is the goal line/short-yardage power back. Malena has 73 carries through six games and averages 5.1 yards per carry. Williams only has 22 carries, though he averages an impressive 7.8 per carry.
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