Texas A&M duet featuring Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans sang in perfect harmony against Sam Houston State’s cornerbacks Bookie Sneed and Shelby Davis during Saturday’s 65-28 win.
SHSU’s secondary could not support Timothy Flanders’s 173 yard rushing effort against the No. 7 Aggies, while the Heisman winner steered the reigns for 426 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Following a 20 minute performance against Rice University in week one, capping the extensive NCAA investigation for allegedly selling his likeness, Manziel completed 29 of 42 passes against SHSU, targeting Evans for 155 yards.
“That’s embarrassing honestly,” Sneed said. “We should do a better job defensively containing him in coverage.”
The 6’5″ sophomore receiver utilized his size against Sneed to escape lockdown coverage and abused the Bearkat secondary. Evans’s performance against SHSU recorded his third 100 plus yard receiving game as an Aggie.
“Receivers are like basketball players, once they get one or two catches on them they keep rolling,” Sneed said.
Although clouded by botched coverage and a weary defense, Flanders expanded his Southland Conference resume, achieving the second spot in the conference’s all-time rushing leaders.
Flanders’s three touchdown performance kindled early production with consecutive first down runs stretching the sidelines. Offensive coordinator Doug Ruse hit the crippled Aggie defense with continued quarterback options and sweeps for positive rushing yards in the first half.
Senior All-American Flanders maintained SHSU’s only offensive breath of production on the ground pushing into the latter minutes of the third quarter. He narrowed SHSU’s deficit to within nine points with a 68 yard touchdown to break open the third quarter.
“The score really didn’t tell how we played the whole game,” Flanders said. “I think we played pretty good for the most part. Even at halftime we knew we weren’t out of it.”
Flanders received the SLC’s offensive player of the week for his performance against the Aggies.
Tackling continued to be a prominent issue on defense û a problem that head coach Willie Fritz blamed on himself. SHSU’s youth was a factor in the Bearkat’s secondary during the second half stemming from costly penalties and inability to contain Manziel in the backfield.
Fritz told the Houstonian preceding Saturday’s contest he did not push heavy contact drills on defense during fall and summer drills. Manziel exploited SHSU’s lack of ability to wrap up in the backfield, eluding pressure in the pocket from the defensive line.
“When you play an opponent like that you either have to keep matching them or you got to stop them at some point in time,” Fritz said.
The Aggies slipped away in the third quarter with three consecutive touchdowns while swarming Flanders in the backfield. Bell struggled to connect for positive yards and produced costly turnovers to hand Manziel possession in Bearkat territory.
The Bearkats’ starting lineup against FCS opponent Texas Southern University in Huntsville have only logged a combined four quarters of play against Houston Baptist and the Aggies.
SHSU (1-1) fell to fifth place behind Towson University in FCS standings following Saturday’s loss.