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Texas A&M’s highly touted QB Kyler Murray a nightmare matchup for Auburn

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, left, pats quarterback Kyler Murray (1) as he walks off the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in College Station, Texas.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, left, pats quarterback Kyler Murray (1) as he walks off the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in College Station, Texas. AP Photo

Texas A&M couldn’t have picked a better opponent for true freshman Kyler Murray to gain experience in only his second career start.

Auburn’s defense has struggled against dual-treat quarterbacks this season including Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Jacksonville State’s Eli Jenkins and LSU’s Brandon Harris.

Murray made a few brief appearances during the Aggies’ out of conference schedule,  but didn’t get the starting job from Kyle Allen until last week’s game against South Carolina.

In his first start, Murray nearly totaled 400 yards of offense, rushing for 156 yards, in a 35-28 win over the Gamecocks.

His performance provided a much-needed boost to a Texas A&M (6-2, 2-2 SEC) offense that struggled in a 23-3 loss to Ole Miss, but Murray caught the attention of Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp long before he lit up South Carolina.

Muschamp recruited Murray as Florida’s coach when the 5-11, 188-pounder was one of the most highly sought after prospects in the nation.

“Murray is a different guy at the quarterback position,” Muschamp said. “You got to handle his legs, you got to handle his accuracy and you got to handle his ability to win. At Allen High School, he never lost. I’ve known about him for a long time. He’s an impressive player, extremely talented and a guy that you have to account for on every snap with everything you do.”

The son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray closed out his high school career with a 43-0 record as a starter with more than 14,500 total yards.

As a senior, he picked up multiple national player of the year awards as a senior leading his team to back-to-back titles.

Muschamp used multiple analogies to describe how difficult Murray is to defend running out of the backfield – “you can't hem up in a phone booth” and “he’s quick as a cat” with the bottom line being Auburn’s defense is going to have its hand full in College Station Saturday.

“He's just a guy who is very difficult to defend,” Muschamp said. “If you play man to man, you risk a missed tackle. He's faster than most of the guys we're going to have on the field. At the end of the day, it just creates a lot of issues for you. How do you want to play him? You have to be multiple in what you do. You have to be very disciplined in how you play a player like this. That's what we're going to try to do.”

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google

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