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8 Things We Learned From Texas A&M's 52-28 Win Over South Carolina

Entering last night's game, South Carolina was the favorite in the SEC East, while Texas A&M was thought to be a young team with a spotty defense that had to learn to win without Johnny Manziel. 52 points later, both programs' narratives have been flipped on their heads. Here are eight major takeaways from last night's Texas A&M blowout of South Carolina in Columbia.

1.) A&M's QB Position Is Secure:

Kenny Hill is not Johnny Manziel, at least not yet, but he doesn't have to be. Where Manziel's college game was often defined by his amazing ability to scramble and create plays, Hill's first start against South Carolina was all about efficiency and poise in the pocket. It didn't hurt that Texas A&M's offensive line was largely impenetrable (more on that later), but any time that South Carolina got any heat on him, he found a receiver open for a nice chunk of yardage.

Expecting Hill to destroy teams like this every week is unrealistic, as are the Manziel and Jameis Winston comparisons that flew around the web last night during this first start, but at worst, it looks like Kevin Sumlin has yet another strong quarterback under center. The scariest part? The Hill-Kyle Allen quarterback competition was reportedly a close one, so the Aggies should be set at that position for a while.

2.) The Aggies Are As Strong As Ever On The Offensive Line:

Texas A&M has been a factory for high-level offensive linemen under Kevin Sumlin, and that doesn't seem to be changing in 2014. South Carolina doesn’t have Jadeveon Clowney or Kelcy Quarles on the team this year, but Steve Spurrier’s staff has recruited incredibly well and has proven that it can identify top defensive line talent. The move to the 3-4 defense didn't help the Gamecocks, but Texas A&M’s offensive line looked absolutely elite.

3.) Both Teams Have A Lot Of Work To Do In The Secondary:

South Carolina’s defensive backs were probably the team’s biggest issue on Thursday night, but the Texas A&M secondary did not fare much better, aside from the third quarter interception by Armani Watts. Dylan Thompson torched the Aggies defensive backs for 366 yards and four touchdowns through the air, including two over 45 yards. Thompson nearly added a fifth touchdown on a deep throw to Nick Jones, but Watts laid a huge hit on the Gamecocks receiver at the goal line, knocking the ball out and preventing what could have been a big score.

Texas A&M was extremely vulnerable to the deep ball, but they still made some big plays to take South Carolina out of rhythm. The same can’t be said for the Gamecocks, who were meticulously carved up by Hill. He didn't hit the deep strikes that Thompson did, but South Carolina had no answer for the Aggies’ high-efficiency offense. The young secondary was one of the biggest concerns about the Gamecocks heading into the season, and all of those fears were realized.

4.) Lost In The Blow-out Was A Solid Performance From Dylan Thompson

Considering the major struggles of South Carolina’s vaunted rushing game, and the fact that the Gamecocks were playing from behind for most of the game, Dylan Thompson played a pretty strong game on Thursday. The stats speak for themselves; Thompson has never been the accurate passer that his former teammate Connor Shaw is, but he delivers the ball well down field and makes big plays. Thompson’s 9.15 yards per attempt was even higher than Hill’s 8.52. The interception was a underthrown, and a bit of a desperation play, but assuming the Gamecocks don’t give up 50 points on a regular basis, he shouldn’t need to make those types of gambles on a regular basis.

Next: Mike Davis, Texas A&M's Front Seven, And Kevin Sumlin >>>

5.) Mike Davis Was A Total Non-Factor, Which Can’t Happen Again

Mike Davis came into the season as one of the nation’s best rushers, and did nothing to back that up against Texas A&M. He only picked up 15 yards on six carries, and added a one-yard reception. Junior back Brandon Wilds, who had 45 yards on nine rushes, looked like the much better option in the backfield.

South Carolina was not in a great position to pound the ball for most of Thursday’s game, but even early on before things got out of hand, Davis could not get anything going. Thompson proved to be effective, but most SEC defenses will handle the deep throw better than the Aggies did. Davis needs to be the running back that he was last season if South Carolina wants to bounce back from this loss.

6.) Texas A&M’s Front Seven Was Impressive:

While the Aggie secondary still looks lost at times, the defensive front was quite good against an experienced and talented South Carolina offensive line. The linebackers were especially disruptive, with Jordan Mastrogiovanni recorded seven tackles, and A.J. Hilliard, Donnie Baggs, and Myles Garrett all picking up sacks. As discussed above, the front seven also shut down Mike Davis, who many expected to gash the A&M defense that was so weak at every level in 2013.

7.) The Aggies Offense Is Going To Be Scary For A While:

Kenny Hill is a sophomore. The three running backs who made an impact—Trey Williams, Brandon Williams, and Tra Carson—are all juniors. Of the 12 players to make a catch for Texas A&M, only Malcome Kennedy (14 receptions, 137 yards) and tight end Cameron Clear (one reception, 12 yards) are seniors. That group includes four juniors (the three aforementioned running backs and receiver Sabian Holmes), three sophomores, and three freshmen. Between the strong offensive line, and this incredible depth at the skill positions, don’t expect Texas A&M to slow down on that side of the ball.

8.) Any Notion That Kevin Sumlin’s Success Was Only A Product Of Johnny Manziel Should Be Gone:

Kevin Sumlin had plenty of success before coaching Johnny Manziel, and there’s no reason to believe that things will change now that the Heisman winner has moved on to the NFL. Before Manziel, Sumlin coached Case Keenum and Sam Bradford at Houston and Oklahoma, and had plenty of success as the head coach of Houston. While questions about his program post-Manziel were inevitable, there was far more evidence that he would continue to have success at A&M than to the contrary. With the recruiting success and amazing new facilities in College Station, expect Sumlin to be a factor in the SEC for a while, unless the NFL comes calling.