Knight, Mazzone look for more as Aggies host Prairie View
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) No. 20 Texas A&M's first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone likened his work with quarterback Trevor Knight in their debuts with the Aggies to a first date.
There were some things that went well in Texas A&M's 31-24 overtime win against UCLA. But there are also plenty of ways the pair will improve as they get to know each other better.
''Don't think he was satisfied or we were satisfied,'' Mazzone said. ''We are still a work in progress. For him and me. That's first time he has to learn how I am as play-caller and I have to learn his play ... try to figure each other out and play to each other's strengths.''
On Saturday, the pair will get another chance to work together when the Aggies, who jumped in the poll this week after being unranked in preseason, host FCS Prairie View in the first meeting between two schools just 50 miles apart. The Panthers opened the season by rallying twice to beat Texas Southern 29-25.
Knight threw for 239 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores in his first game at A&M after transferring from Oklahoma as a graduate student. Coach Kevin Sumlin was impressed with the 22-year-old's poise throughout the game and particularly in overtime when he ran for the winning touchdown.
Knight is looking to clean up some things this week and do more for the Aggies.
''We know that we can play a whole lot better,'' he said. ''So that's our focus this week. Attack the week and make ourselves better.''
Though Knight is a veteran who had appeared in 24 games for the Sooners before coming to Texas A&M, he admitted that getting his first game with the Aggies out of the way was a relief. He feels much more comfortable having been in a game with his new teammates and believes the jitters he had in the season opener will be gone on Saturday.
He believes the way the team performed to win in overtime will help the Aggies as competition gets tougher.
''I think we are closer because of last Saturday,'' Knight said. ''Knowing that if we stick together we're going to be OK.''
Some things to know about the Prairie View-Texas A&M game:
CLOSING GAMES OUT
The Aggies led by 15 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday before allowing UCLA to rally to tie it and send it to overtime. It's a letdown that concerns Sumlin as Texas A&M prepares for the start of SEC play against Auburn next weekend.
''We have to close out games. Finish games,'' Sumlin said. ''Have to get more out of our backup guys in critical games like that. Got to find more guys to keep guys fresher in certain positions. Got to do some things offensively to help ourselves.''
GARRETT GETS GOING
Defensive end Myles Garrett, who is projected to be a top-five pick in the NFL draft if he leaves school after this season, picked up where he left off last season. He was in UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen's face all day and finished with a sack, 1 1/2 tackles for losses and two quarterback hurries. He led the SEC with 12 1/2 sacks last season.
Wide receiver Speedy Noil will return this week after sitting out the opener as the second game of a two-game suspension he received before A&M's bowl game last season for an unspecified violation of rules. Sumlin said Noil earned a starting spot in camp and is looking forward to his return.
''It was best fall camp he's had,'' Sumlin said. ''For him it's consistency in his actions. Has as much talent as anybody ... worked really, really diligently in the offseason to understand his positon.''
Noil had 44 catches for 559 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman in 2014 and added 645 yards on 27 kick returns that season. He was slowed by injuries and two separate suspensions last season and finished with just 226 yards receiving.
RUNNING GAME SHINES
Texas A&M finished with 203 yards rushing on Saturday behind a running game led by freshman Trayveon Williams and Oklahoma transfer Keith Ford. Williams ran 15 times for 94 yards and Ford had 14 carries for 65 yards in his first game after sitting out a season following his transfer. Sumlin said James White, who had just two carries in the opener, will also see plenty of action this season, leaving the team with plenty of options at the position.