SEC INSIDER

Aggies’ QB Allen emerges into ‘the man’

The Sports Xchange

December 29, 2014 at 6:37 pm.

Kyle Allen (10) was lights out in Texas A&M's win over West Virginia. (Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When Texas A&M opened the season with five straight wins and was ranked No. 6 in one poll, freshman quarterback Kyle Allen was an afterthought.

After all, sophomore Kenny Hill earned a cool nickname — Kenny Trill — and had thrown for 1,746 yards and 17 touchdowns to firmly establish his candidacy for the Heisman Trophy.

But Hill fell off dramatically in a three-game losing streak and then drew a suspension before a Nov. 1 game against Louisiana-Monroe. Allen was no longer a clipboard-carrier. He was the man.

In Monday’s 45-37 Liberty Bowl win over West Virginia, Allen morphed from uncertain signal-caller into a player who might lead the Aggies back into contention in the brutally tough SEC West next year.

Shrugging off an early pick-six which put Texas A&M in a 17-7 first-quarter hole, Allen completed 22 of 35 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 33 yards and a fifth score.

“Really, everything just fell into place after a slow start,” Allen said. “The running backs ran well, the line protected me and the receivers caught the ball.”

Allen’s game might have turned on his 40-yard touchdown pass to running back Trey Williams with 1:28 left in the first quarter, cutting the Mountaineers’ lead to 17-14. Barely beating a middle blitz, Allen fluttered his short pass to Williams, who caught the ball backing up near the first down marker and then raced untouched to the end zone.

“I didn’t really make a good throw, but Trey made a good catch,” Allen said.

There were plenty of good throws after that for Allen, most notably his 21-yard dart to wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones on a 3rd-and-20 play at the West Virginia 39 in the third quarter to set up Williams’ 18-yard scoring run.

Another 21-yard reception on a quick slant to wide receiver Malcome Kennedy with just over two minutes left in the game converted a third down and enabled the Aggies to run out the clock.

One guy who wasn’t surprised by Allen’s performance was Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen, who knows what Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin wants from a quarterback. After all, Holgorsen worked under Sumlin at Houston in 2008-09.

“He’s going to be a heck of a player,” Holgorsen said of Allen. “The way he operated, the way he communicated and the way he ran the offense, I saw improvement. He’s going to continue to get better.”