If Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans plays exactly like he did during this past weekend’s 49-42 loss to Alabama for the rest of the season, Texas A&M will most likely be unbeatable. The game between the two-time defending national champion, Alabama and Evans’ A&M team, was close enough to get a rematch in the BCS National Championship game, if everyone else loses a game and the Aggies run the table.
Unless you were living under a boulder Saturday, you witnessed Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron’s dominant performances. However, the most impressive game award needed to be sent in the direction of Texas A&M’s reception leader from last season and this season, Evans.
The 6-foot-5, 225 pound sophomore put up the kind of numbers that most resemble the early prognostication of the Biletnikoff Award. Evans had seven passes for 279 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown reception that cut Alabama’s leading differential to a score midway through the fourth quarter. Evans’ longest touchdown catch prior to that was a 75-yarder, which came last season at Louisiana Tech. Evans broke a Texas A&M reception yard record previously set by Ken “Dude” McLean in 1965, with his 279 yards.
Just when Alabama had Manziel accounted for, Evans was a security blanket tightroping the sidelines and catching jump balls with his 6’5 frame in man to man coverage. The comfort level is astounding for both redshirt sophomores Manziel and Evans. Manziel never had to double pump, just slid the football right in Evans direction. Starting with the first drive, as Manziel threw one right on the button and a back shoulder pass, both Evans had to adjust over the undersized Tide corner John Fulton. It was clear those plays were scripted in the game plan by Aggies offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney earlier in the week. A&M knew exactly what they getting with Evans and didn’t pull any punches.
Six of Evans’ catches went for 20 yards, whereas his longest catch went for 15 yards in the first meeting with Alabama last year. Whether it was bump and run coverage or sliding a man underneath or out high, The Tide had no bearings on Evans’ game, leaving the Nick Saban-coached corners helpless, and their press coverage didn’t really have an impact for the most part because of Fulton, Cyrus Jones and Deion Belue taking the bait.
Evans’ route running and overall presence held serve, establishing the run game for A&M. A&M sprung different runners for 164 yards for an average of a handful. Evans’ throwing blocks for his running backs on the perimeter was a sight to see for most, as they hadn’t seen his NFL body and toolset.
Three games into the 2013 season, Evans already has 518 yards and three touchdowns off 20 catches. Evans caught four passes for 135 yards in the first quarter, going over 100 in the first two series alone, and hauled in 82 balls for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Most outstanding is defined differently throughout college football. Whether it’s describing who should be the best two teams to play for a national championship or voting for a Heisman winner, outstanding is the word that judges both things. McCarron’s performance of 334 passing yards and four scores would bear outstanding, because he’s about to become the first quarterback to lead his team to three-straight championships in the poll era, while Manziel’s performance of 556 total yards signifies that he’s outstanding because of talents of being the game’s best player. Evans, however, showed off his true colors in a much anticipated game. Games like that will put him in a class of his own and be looked upon as outstanding based on the threat he brings to opposing defenses.