DALLAS (AP) — Kenny Hill thrilled for only one half, speedy receiver Jeremy Tabuyo turned two short passes near the sideline into long touchdowns, and sixth-ranked Texas A&M had a nice warmup in North Texas.
The Aggies’ return to the area next week isn’t likely to be as easy as their 58-6 victory Saturday against SMU, which was playing its home opener after coach June Jones resigned.
“We’ll know a lot more about us next week,” coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We’ll see next week. Big-time atmosphere.”
Texas A&M is 4-0 for the first time since 2006 after Hill accounted for 322 yards of offense and a 38-3 halftime lead in the first of consecutive games by the Aggies in the Dallas area.
Next Saturday, they will play about 25 miles west in Arlington, Texas, for a neutral-site SEC game against Arkansas at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, where the national championship game will be played in January.
Among the positives from the SMU game for Sumlin: “Getting through the game without some starters, keeping them fresh.”
SMU (0-3) played for the first time since Jones resigned Sept. 8, two days after the second game of his seventh season on The Hilltop. SMU’s only score those first two weeks came on what turned out to be his final play as coach, a 33-yard touchdown pass in a 43-6 loss at North Texas.
In defensive coordinator Tom Mason’s first game as interim head coach, the Mustangs managed only two field goals by Cody Rademacher (29 and 37 yards), had 241 total yards while giving up eight sacks and used their fourth quarterback already this season.
“I’ve got to get these kids back and get them confident,” Mason said. “We’ve got some good kids. I think these kids will respond.”
Garrett Krstich, the junior quarterback who replaced ineffective first-time starter Kolney Cassel in the second quarter, felt as though the Mustangs got a little better. But he knows they must “get a lot better to compete.”
Hill, the sensational sophomore who succeeded 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as Texas A&M’s starter, completed 16 of 22 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and his first career interception. He also ran for 57 yards — a big 58-yard play and a 1-yard loss.
The first touchdown pass for Hill came on a short pass that Tabuyo caught near the sideline. He managed to stay in bounds before weaving through defenders, including two that ran into each other after he got by for a 30-yard score.
On his only other catch of the game, Tabuyo turned a short pass from freshman quarterback Kyle Allen into a 50-yard score in the third quarter. The sophomore from Honolulu again caught the ball along the right sideline near defenders before breaking free.
“Jeremy, he’ll be in my office Monday morning, wanting to start,” Sumlin said. “Two catches, what did you have, 80 yards and two touchdowns? Kind of hard to argue with him.”
Trey Williams had a pair of touchdown runs (8 and 5 yards) in the first half, and Brandon Williams added a 10-yard score for the Aggies, who had 663 total yards. Allen finished 8-of-15 passing for 130 yards.
There was also a nice save by a Texas A&M cadet late in the first half after SMU receiver Der’rikk Thompson was bumped on an incomplete pass near the sideline, and his momentum sent him toward Reveille VIII, the Aggies’ live mascot. But a cadet stepped in front of the collie and kept Thompson from running into her.
Hill threw an interception on Texas A&M’s second possession, his first in 150 career attempts — 128 this season.
“It was a miscommunication, mostly on my part,” Hill said.
The Mustangs then went three-and-out, and on the next drive Hill turned a broken play into a big run. Hill followed Williams through a hole and broke several tackles for a 58-yard gain, setting up Williams’ 8-yard TD run.
SMU starter Neal Burcham’s season ended after he injured his right elbow in the last game. Cassel started Saturday and was 1 for 5 for 2 yards with three sacks before going to the bench. Krstich was then sacked five times while completing 13 of 24 passes for 137 yards.
“That’s not the kind of performance we want to display. I think we got a little better today. We did move the ball a little bit,” Krstich said. “We’re excited moving forward. Don’t count us out.”