COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M's defense should be fine with Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall teaming up to form perhaps the best defensive end duo in the country.
Things are much less sure on offense where graduate transfer Trevor Knight takes over at quarterback after both Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen transferred in December.
Knight started 10 games and threw for 2,300 yards and 15 touchdowns for Oklahoma in 2014 before being benched in favor of Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield before last season.
But coach Kevin Sumlin saw enough from him this spring to name him starter and is confident he's the right guy to lead his high-powered offense.
“He filled a void for us as a quarterback who was not just a transfer quarterback but a guy who had real game experience and had some success,” Sumlin said. “So, for us, it was a great match.”
Knight had a reputation as a risk-taker at Oklahoma and his gun-slinging ways often led to turnovers. It was those miscues which contributed to his being benched last year.
However, Sumlin is quick to point out that he's matured since then and he believes that losing his job helped Knight become a better player because it gave him time to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses.
“His ability since he came into the first team meeting and sitting there in the front row with his beard, and all of the 17- (and) 18-year-old guys are going: `Who is that old man? Didn't I see him on TV playing for Oklahoma,'” Sumlin said. “And his ability to be humble and still be able to share his experiences and talk to our guys, it's been fabulous.”
Some things to know about the Aggies:
BIG TEST EARLY
The Aggies don't get a warm-up against a small school as many teams do. They start by hosting UCLA on Sept. 3. The Bruins were picked to win the Pac-12 South in a preseason media poll. UCLA had the best pass defense in the Pac-12 last season, which will be a good test to see where Knight is at in his first game as an Aggie.
ABOUT THOSE DEFENSIVE ENDS
Garrett was a Lombardi Award finalist last season after leading the SEC with 12 1/2 sacks, 19 1/2 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. Hall added seven sacks and 14 1/2 tackles for losses. Though Garrett is the bigger name of the two, both agree that a large part of their success comes from working together.
“If he's doing really well and starts sliding the line over to him, that would make openings for me so I could make some plays in the game or make a sack on the quarterback or get inside and make the tackle for loss,” Garrett said. “He's just as effective as me.”
After the UCLA game, the Aggies have just one game before they jump into Southeastern Conference play with a trip to Auburn followed by their annual Arlington, Texas meeting against Arkansas. They have a tough stretch in October where they host East division favorite Tennessee followed by a trip to Alabama, the West division favorite. They'll close out the regular season by hosting LSU on Thanksgiving, a game that will by tough with the Tigers expected to contend with Alabama for the SEC title.
The Aggies will likely be in the middle of the pack in the SEC. They aren't one of the league's bottom feeders, but probably won't be able to keep pace with the elite teams in the league. If Knight is solid and the defense does what's expected they could win nine games, but it's unlikely they could do much better than that.