With all eyes on Manziel during his first start of the 2013 season, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner led a dominant display from the Aggies' offense as they continue to warm up for their mouth-watering clash with Alabama next week.
Despite throwing a disappointing interception early in the game, Manziel bounced back with a near faultless display – providing 439 yards and four TDs including both passing and rushing.
It was a night where the high-profile sophomore silenced all doubters and worked to only dispel the myth that he relies on his feet to make plays too often.
He recorded an unprecedented 400 passing yards, completing 28-of-41 attempts in only three quarters before being replaced by freshman Kenny Hill – who himself notched 74 yards and a touchdown.
Manziel’s pocket presence appeared outstanding as he showed patience and poise to go through his reads and pick out his targets with the help of his composed offensive line. His blossoming partnership with wide receiver Mike Evans reached new heights, with the colossal Evans ending with a career-high 155 receiving yards after making seven catches.
Although Evans proved the go-to-guy, the rest of the unit sent out strong messages ahead of their Alabama challenge – with Sabian Holmes and Derel Walker both making nice receptions. Freshman Ja’Quay Williams also hauled in two magnificent grabs – one for a touchdown – to show why he was such a highly sought-after recruit with the future appearing bright for A&M.
With the passing game wreaking havoc, another strong showing from the running backs also slipped under the radar with Ben Malena again showing his steely grit and determination to average 9.1 yards per carry.
The visitors were able to punish A&M on the ground on several occasions, with Timothy Flanders often picking holes in the defensive to make big carries. Wiith T.J. Yeldon visiting next week, there is certainly concern over their ability to stop the rush.
The defense did come alive in the third quarter with interceptions from DeShazor Everett and Nate Askew – the latter returned for a touchdown – yet consistency and concentration does remain something of an issue for the unit.
Having lost several high-profile leaders such as Damontre Moore, Spencer Nealy and Sean Porter, it remains to be seen which players will step up to fill their shoes over the course of the campaign.
Although their dynamic offense was enough to comfortably see off Rice and Sam Houston State, the defense will certainly need to come to the party against Alabama next week if they are to pull off a repeat of their sensational triumph over the Crimson Tide last year.
Yet if Manziel can continue his blistering form, the Alabama defense is sure to have headaches of its own – leaving the eagerly-anticipated clash still delicately poised.