Don’t Worry About The New Texas A&M Quarterback; Kevin Sumlin Will Be Just Fine

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This year’s SEC media days might feel like a case of deja vu for Kevin Sumlin, playing Phil Connors in this college football version of Groundhog Day. Filling in for Ned Ryerson: SEC media, “bing’ing” Sumlin about the Texas A&M quarterback situation.

In 2012, Sumlin had just taken over for Mike Sherman. The Aggies were coming off a disappointing 7-6 campaign, and had just lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

At that year’s media event, Sumlin was still weeks away from naming Tannehill’s replacement. Sound familiar?

Sumlin is faced with a reply of the situation this year, only the departed first rounder this time is Johnny Manziel. Otherwise, the story plays out in much the same fashion.

Johnny Manziel and Jameill Showers were locked in a competition that ended just days before the Aggies were scheduled to face Louisiana Tech. The game was postponed a month-and-a-half due to a hurricane, and the Bulldogs became an integral background player in the meteoric rise of Manziel.

But in the initial build-up to Week 1, Manziel was an unknown–save his run-in with police officers that summer.

Manziel’s successor cannot be fairly judged after just one week, as Manziel’s Heisman season reminds us. He opened his college career with a decent showing against the stout Florida Gators defense, though decidedly unspectacular at 23-of-30 for 173 yards with 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The 2014 Aggies open in similar fashion, taking on a foe from the SEC East, South Carolina. Playing in Williams Brice Stadium on the first-ever SEC Network telecast is a bright spotlight for the next Texas A&M quarterback. But for Sumlin, the process of acclimating a new quarterback is new hat.

Below are the first-year stat lines of his last four quarterbacks. Houston’s Case Keenum is the only player with game experience prior to working under Sumlin’s tutelage.

Year Quarterback Pass Completions/Attempts (Pct.) Pass Yards Pass TD/INT Carries Rush Yards Rush TD
2007 Sam Bradford 237/341 (69.5) 3,121 36/8 317 0
2008Case Keenum* 397/589 (67.4) 5,020 44/11 76 221 7
2010 David Piland 201/345 (57.1) 2,929 16/12 23 28 0
2012Johnny Manziel 295/434 (68.0) 3,706 26/9 201 1410 21

And even Keenum saw an immediate improvement in his first year playing for Sumlin. His statistics as a freshman were pedestrian at best, despite playing in Art Briles’ system: 14 touchdowns with 10 interceptions and 2,259 yards.

But in 2008, Keenum’s first season under Sumlin, he passed for 44 touchdowns and a ridiculous 5,020 yards.

Keenum was injured early in 2010, forcing Sumlin to start David Piland. While Piland was not up to par with his predecessor, he still managed

Perhaps the most promising takeaway the new Texas A&M quarterback can take from Sumlin’s previous first-time starters is the stark contrast in stat lines from Bradford, Keenum and Piland to Manziel.

At Oklahoma and Houston, Sumlin obviously preferred his quarterbacks to operate strictly as passers. Demarco Murray, Allen Patrick and Chris Brown shouldered the rushing burden for Oklahoma in 2007; while Keenum rushed some for Houston in 2008, Bryce Beall was the ground game focal point.

But with the athletic Manziel, Sumlin tapped into a new dimension of his prolific scheme, unleashing Manziel’s uncanny rushing ability. Not that Sumlin completely re-wrote his playbook, mind you: Manziel’s pass attempts still ranked No. 23 in the nation, and the running backs still shouldered a considerable load with Ben Malena, Christine Michael and Trey Williams combining for almost 320 carries.

Kyle Allen and Kenny Hill are the Manziel and Showers (or Showers and Manziel) of this year’s Texas A&M quarterback competition.

“Kyle is more of a pocket guy,” offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi told Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle. “Kenny is a little bit more mobile. I see a lot of similarities, in that they’re both playmakers, as well.”

Allen was 247Sports.com’s top-rated pro-style quarterback in the 2014 signing class. Should he win the starting job, the Aggies’ offense will look much different than the last two seasons with Manziel quarterbacking it.

And given Sumlin’s track record, the Texas A&M quarterback is going to be just fine.