COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Kyle Allen led Texas A&M to a win in his first career start.
Things will be a lot more difficult for the freshman this week when the Aggies travel to No. 3 Auburn.
Allen helped A&M snap a three-game skid with a 21-16 win over Louisiana-Monroe in place of Kenny Hill, who was suspended for two games, but would have been benched last week before the suspension.
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”Kyle’s very capable … of running this offense and putting up the type of numbers that are necessary to run it,” coach Kevin Sumlin said.
Allen threw for 106 yards and a touchdown, but also had two turnovers against the Sun Belt conference team. Now he’ll have to deal with a team that hasn’t lost at home since 2012.
Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has been encouraged by Allen’s development from the beginning of the season to this point. He competed with Hill for the starting job in camp before Hill won the position just before the season opener.
Despite his improvement in practice, Spavital knows nothing can mimic game action.
”A lot of it is stuff he’s going to have to learn on the run once he gets in there and gets experience,” Spavital said. ”That was a pretty good game for him against an aggressive scheme … he’s getting better each week. He’s his biggest critic, and it’s good to see him coming in here and putting in the effort to get better.”
Sumlin has a ban on freshmen speaking to the media, so Spavital provided a glimpse of how Allen dealt with his chance to lead the team.
”He was definitely excited,” Spavital said. ”Couldn’t see much butterflies with him, I really couldn’t. Normally you’d expect to see it, but he took that first drive down and scored. He’s pleased with his performance, but he knows he can get a lot better.”
Hill, who helped the Aggies to a 5-0 start before struggling with turnovers in three straight losses, will be done with his suspension after Saturday’s game. But Spavital doesn’t expect the sophomore to get his job back when he returns.
”Right now, it’s his to take,” Spavital said of Allen. ”I see him going forward when Kenny goes back it’s just based off performance – what Kyle’s doing.”
Sumlin liked Allen’s poise on Saturday and was a bit surprised at the scrambling the quarterback did against Louisiana-Monroe. He had runs of 13 and 14 yards in that game.
”I think he got confident when he scrambled a few times, because people were like: `Whoa, this guy can run,”’ Sumlin said. ”That’s a good thing and that’s a bad thing. He got a little confident in his ability to run and there might be some false confidence there in guys playing man to man and blitzing, and once he broke out there was nobody there.”
Allen was one of the top-rated pocket passers coming out of high school and Sumlin has reminded him this week that he needs to play his game and that he probably won’t get away with the runs he pulled off last week when they Auburn.
”We’ll play some better athletes this week,” Sumlin said. ”We’re not taking away his ability to run, but he needs to be more aware of what he can do and what he can’t do, and he understands that.”
Besides limiting his scrambling, Sumlin is looking for Allen to do a better job of communicating with his receivers and is stressing ball security this week.
After Saturday’s game, Sumlin said that they played things close to the vest to allow Allen to get comfortable in the offense. The coach known for his high-scoring and pass-heavy offense plans to open up the playbook more this week.
”As a young quarterback, particularly midseason, you’re going to get pressured,” Sumlin said. ”We’ll have to develop a scheme that helps guys get open and protects him against those blitzes … but yeah, we’re trying to give him more and more as we go on.”