Transfers leave Aggies thin at QB for bowl vs. Louisville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin goes into the Music City Bowl down to his third option at quarterback after Kyle Allen decided to transfer, and then Kyler Murray decided to leave the Aggies.
That leaves Jake Hubenak making his first start Wednesday night against Louisville, and Sumlin said the Aggies are just fine with that.
''Let's face it, you know the guy's been around a bit,'' Sumlin said. ''He's been at another university. He's been at a junior college, an older guy that's traveled around a little bit. So he's used to adversity, and I think he's handled it well so far.''
A torn ACL in high school led Hubenak to walk on at Oklahoma State where he redshirted, and he bolted for Blinn Junior College in Texas where Hubenak threw for 4,052 yards and 47 touchdowns with only nine interceptions in eight games to work his way to Texas A&M. Hubenak played in five games this season, throwing 27 passes.
Sumlin insisted the loss of his top two quarterbacks has been no distraction for the Aggies (8-4). Yes, the coach is making sure to fix any issues that led to them both leaving.
''At no time did we recruit guys that we want to leave the program,'' Sumlin said.
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has a relative wealth with three options at quarterback, and he's going back to freshman Lamar Jackson who last started Oct. 30 against Wake Forest for the Cardinals (7-5). Jackson leads Louisville throwing for 1,613 yards. He's also their leading rusher with 734 yards, topping 100 yards in a school-record four games. He came off the bench and ran for 186 yards and two TDs in beating rival Kentucky.
''I've been looking forward to this day for a very long time,'' Jackson said of his first bowl game.
Here are some other things to know about this Music City Bowl, sponsored by Franklin American Mortgage:
DEFENSIVE AGGIES: Sophomore Myles Garrett leads the SEC with 11 1/2 sacks, 18 1/2 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. He has plenty of help too with junior defensive end Daeshon Hall adding seven sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss. The duo is a big part of a defense that ranks fourth nationally allowing 161.3 yards passing and third averaging 8.6 tackles for loss per game.
CARDINAL WALL: Louisville are very good on defense too, ranking 13th nationally allowing 323.4 yards per game. Five Cardinals have nine or more tackles for loss led by junior linebacker Devonte Fields who tied for second nationally with 19 1/2 tackles for loss. Any pass that gets through is at risk too. Louisville ranks 14th nationally and led the ACC with 16 interceptions.
BIG LEG: Aggies senior punter Drew Kaser is within range of a few marks going into his final game. He is averaging 46.30 yards per punt in his career, putting him .01 off the NCAA record of 46.31 set by Todd Sauerbrun at West Virginia between 1991-94. Kaser also is second this season averaging 47.96 yards per punt, trailing Florida Atlantic punter Dalton Schomp's average of 48.00 per punt.
BOUNCE BACK: The Cardinals opened the season losing their first three games - including a 20-17 loss to now-No. 1 Clemson. They enter the bowl game having won five of their last six. Petrino said they just working hard. ''Obviously not something that we ever want to do again, and we did not enjoy the experience at all,'' Petrino said. ''But we fought through it.''
YOU AGAIN: This time last year, John Chavis was prepping LSU's defense for this game, which the Tigers lost 31-28 to Notre Dame. Chavis then bolted for Texas A&M where the defensive coordinator has helped the Aggies across the board from last season.
SUSPENDED: Sumlin said sophomore wide receiver Speedy Noil is suspended for the bowl game. Noil caught 21 passes for 226 yards and two TDs this season.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org