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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Maroon and white classic

 
 

A record crowd of more than 45,000 filed into Kyle Field on Saturday to catch a glimpse of the next chapter of Texas A&M football as the annual Maroon and White game kicked off the unofficial start to the season.
The spring football game was televised by Kirk Herbstreit and the ESPN College Gameday crew for the first time in program history. Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel stood center-stage yet again – though not as a national celebrity, but as the quarterback of the Aggie offense.
The sophomore-to-be said the game’s fan presence was beyond what he or any of his teammates expected, providing them with an in-season atmosphere to showcase their improvement from spring training.
“It was unreal to have that kind of support,” Manziel said. “Running out of the tunnel, it almost felt like a real game. It’s been a grind and we were excited to go out and show what we’ve been working.”
The A&M athletic department opened the home grandstand’s third deck to allow for the massive influx of fans. By game’s end, the crowd had flooded a majority of the home side and filled the first deck of both the student section and The Zone.
Associate athletic director Jason Cook said the game’s unprecedented fan presence was a result of the University’s realignment to the Southeastern Conference.
“This is why we moved to the SEC,” Cook said.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin said the atmosphere generated by the crowd was valued by players and coaches alike.
“We’re really appreciative of our fans showing up,” Sumlin said. “For our team, our players and our coaches, [the fan presence] was a big deal. Hopefully, we put on a decent show today.”
Manziel and the offense, suited in maroon, beat the white-clad defense 43-23, but Manziel alarmed coaches by throwing a block to allow sophomore running back Brandon Williams a touchdown.
Co-offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said the play was one Manziel needed to avoid while in a practice situation.
“I told [Manziel], ‘Don’t ever do that again,'” McKinney said. “His instincts came into effect. He wanted to go and block for the guy, but we’re in the spring game. We don’t need to lose him on a busted play. We don’t want to see that.”
Manziel finished the day with three touchdowns and 303 passing yards. Williams, an Oklahoma transfer, racked up 59 yards on seven carries and 29 yards on three receptions, showing versatility as a running back and receiver out of the backfield.
“[Williams is] a home run threat from anywhere on the field,” McKinney said.
The defense, after injuries to multiple starters throughout spring training, often relied on new additions. Senior Nate Askew started at linebacker after an offseason position shift from receiver, a change defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said has gone well.
“[Askew] got better each and every day of spring practice,” Snyder said. “I think he’s having fun and he’s found a way to help this football team.”
Looking forward, Sumlin said the game and spring training allowed the team to create relationships and build a foundation for the upcoming season.
“We couldn’t do everything we wanted to do, but I thought there were some good things that happened today with some good competition,” Sumlin said. “There’s room for all these guys and we’re going to need them in a league like the SEC. They all have skill sets that can help us win.”

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