Texas A&M doesn’t need help at running back. Not with Tra Carson and
Trey Williams James White returning and freshman phenom Kyler Murray likely to help carry the load in the running game.
The Aggies do need help defending the pass. Texas A&M ranked 66th or lower nationally in pass efficiency defense, yards per attempt allowed and passing defense in 2014. And with leading tacklers Howard Matthews and Deshazor Everett graduating, it’s an all-hands-on-deck type of season in the A&M defensive backfield.
So with that in mind, Texas A&M has moved running back Brandon Williams to cornerback.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin discussed the change with Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle: “He can always come back and play running back, we know that. Let’s see what he can do, and he’s excited about it. If he can help us (on defense), and it helps him in his career, it will be a great move for both of us.”
Williams ranked third on the team last year with 379 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 87 carries. A native of Brookshire, Texas, Williams originally signed with Oklahoma out of high school.
Last we checked in with Oklahoma running back Keith Ford, the Houston-area product was reportedly considering Texas A&M as his next destination.
Now there’s no “reportedly” about it. In a conversation with GigEm.com, Ford named the Aggies as his leader. “Utah has called me, Louisville is showing a lot of interest and so has U of H. Texas A&M has also reached out to me. I don’t want to leave the state of Texas so I’m kind of leaning towards Texas A&M,” Ford said. “It’s not official yet because I still need to talk with the coaches but I am leaning towards Texas A&M.”
Ford said he had a scheduled visit with Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin that could clarify things for both sides. Ford said A&M was originally his leader out of high school.
“Coach Sumlin wants to schedule a time where I can come up there and meet with him,” he said. “We’re trying to work around my parents schedule because they want to come with me but they also have to work. Coach Sumlin told me that he doesn’t take a lot of transfers but he understood that I wanted to be closer to home. Before anything, he wants to get to know me first. As a head coach to tell me that, it was great to hear.”
One transfer the Aggies have accepted? How about Brandon Williams, also a former Sooner originally hailing from the Lone Star State.
Ford played in 18 games with three starts at OU, rushing 86 times for 503 yards and six touchdowns while snaring 11 passes for 140 yards and an additional touchdown.
Joe Mixon is (presumably) on his way in. Samaje Perine is still on campus for another two to three years. Alex Ross isn’t going anywhere, either. Because of those three facts, Oklahoma running back Keith Ford is transferring.
“The past 2 years with the Oklahoma Sooners has been a great experience, however after my injury last season I never fully recovered. Since that time I have had a chance to evaluate my role at OU with my family and have decided it is time to start a new chapter,” Ford said Wednesday in a statement. “Despite what the suspension was about I am currently academically eligible to transfer according to NCAA rules to another university and have been given a full release by OU.
“I would like to thank Coach (Bob) Stoops and Coach (Cale) Gundy for all of their support and I wish the Sooners the best of luck next season.”
Our astute readers will not Gundy is no longer Oklahoma’s running backs coach. He moved to inside receivers in this winter’s staff shakeup, and Jay Boulware was hired to handle running backs. Ford said his relationship with his new position coach was a driving reason behind his transfer. “It just wasn’t the right fit. His style of coaching was not my style,” Ford said in an interview with the Tulsa World. I had a relationship with Coach Gundy. I really came to OU because of Coach Gundy, because I wanted to work with him. I didn’t really know this guy and his actions didn’t fit the way I wanted to be coached.”
Ford was indefinitely suspended in March, which his parents blamed on a broken leg he sustained in a win over Tennessee last September. Add it all up and you see why the four-star recruit out of Cypress, Texas is now in search of greener pastures.
In two seasons as a Sooner, Ford played in 18 games with three starts, rushing 86 times for 503 yards and six touchdowns while snaring 11 passes for 140 yards and an additional touchdown.
The Houston product mentioned Texas A&M as a possible desination, but Keith Ford, Sr., noted the list could grow as the transfer process shakes out. “OU has already sent my transcript release (to A&M), so I’m going to be talking to them and see how their running back coach is. Just really take my time with the process,” Ford said.
Should he land at Texas A&M, Ford would be the second recent Sooner running back to make the Norman-to-College Station move, following fellow Lone Star State native Brandon Williams.
No. 24 Texas A&M appeared to be in good position to build on last week’s upset of Auburn, taking a 13-6 lead into the break against Missouri.
And then the tried-and-true Aggie defense showed up in the third quarter, allowing Missouri to score touchdowns on all four of its third quarter possessions to take a lead it would not relinquish en route to a 34-27 win in College Station.
Worse for A&M than the scores was the way Missouri did it, marching 77 yards in eight plays, 75 yards in six plays, 80 yards in six plays, and 80 yards in eight plays – a total of 312 yards in 28 plays. Foot, meet throat.
Missouri led 34-20 through three quarters, but Texas A&M pulled within 34-27 early in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie it late with a 3rd-and-1 at the Mizzou 2, but Brandon Williams lost a yard on third down, and Kyle Allen‘s pass to Cameron Clear lost another yard on fourth down. Missouri took over with 2:47 to go and did not give the ball back.
Russell Hansbrough ripped the Aggie defense for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, and Marcus Murphy added 20 carries for 88 yards. The Tigers rushed for 335 yards as a team, and Maty Mauk added 23-of-40 passing for 252 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Kyle Allen completed 24-of-35 passes for 237 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, but did not get much help from a Texas A&M ground game that gained only 104 yards on 27 carries.
The win keeps Missouri’s SEC championship hopes alive; Georgia’s 34-7 win over Auburn completes the Bulldogs SEC season at 6-2, meaning a loss by the Tigers would cede the SEC East title to Georgia. Missouri must win at Tennessee next week and in the finale against Arkansas on Black Friday to claim a second straight trip to Atlanta.
Texas A&M falls to 7-4 on the season and will fight for pride and bowl positioning against LSU on Thanksgiving night in College Station.
Missouri is in need of some offense in the second half if they want to join the Auburn Tigers in Atlanta for next weekend’s SEC Championship Game. Trailing Texas A&M 14-7 at the half, Missouri is in a hole that could allow South Carolina to take their place in Atlanta.
Texas A&M’s defense has often been exposed and criticized this season, but so far in Columbia, Missouri the Aggies defense has handled Missouri’s offense quite well.
Johnny Manziel has completed 12 of 16 pass attempts for 124 yards and a touchdown to help the Aggies get something going on offense, but he has yet to make any huge plays with his feet. Manziel has five rushing yards on seven official carries. Brandon Williams has rushed for 60 yards and Tra Carson has a rushing touchdown to help Texas A&M hold the 14-7 lead at the break.
Missouri’s biggest offensive highlight in the first half was a 38-yard touchdown pass from James Franklin to Dorial Green-Beckham in the second quarter. That tied the game at 7-7 but a little more than a minute later Manziel heaved up a desperation pass that was hauled in by Derel Walker for a 32-yard score under pressure.
Missouri will need to get something going in the second half, and a fast start could be crucial to establish some momentum. Texas A&M’s defense has not played this well all season, but how long can they keep that going? Missouri should be able to find some plays that work and break this Aggies defense.
A Missouri win will send them to the SEC Championship Game next week. A Texas A&M will send South Carolina to the championship game. Auburn clinched a spot in the conference title game with a wild ending in the Iron Bowl against Alabama.