COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kenny Hill looked more than ready to replace Johnny Manziel on the field. He is still getting used to the attention that goes along with the job.
Hill broke Manziel’s single-game passing record with 511 yards and No. 21 Texas A&M beat No. 9 South Carolina 52-28 on Thursday night, ending the Gamecocks’ 18-game home win streak.
Hill looked poised and confident in his first start, leading the Aggies (1-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) to the most total and passing yards against South Carolina. The sophomore completed 44 of 60 passes with three touchdowns.
The hardest part of his night came after the celebration on the field.
“I just wanted to get the first press conference over with,” said Hill, who hadn’t spoken with reporters before. “I get nervous up here.”
That’s a far cry from Manziel, a lightning-rod personality quick to speak his mind and gesture to crowds and opponents. Johnny Football rode his flashy style all the way to the Heisman Trophy in his freshman year, and one of the Aggies’ biggest worries was if they could find the same rhythm with a different leader.
Hill made it clear they could.
“We aren’t a one-trick pony,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said.
But Hill would like a different nickname: “I don’t really like ‘Kenny Football.’”
Hill helped Texas A&M to a 31-14 halftime lead and finished up with the most passing yards allowed in Steve Spurrier’s 10 seasons with the Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1).
“I think we all had a chip on our shoulders,” Texas A&M defensive lineman Julien Obioha said.
The Gamecocks played their first game since the departure of star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — and it showed. South Carolina gave up seven TDs on A&Ms first 11 possessions.
Tra Carson ran for three touchdowns and receiver Malcome Kennedy had 14 catches for 137 yards. The Aggies piled up 680 yards of offense, the most South Carolina’s given up since Arkansas went for 650 in 2007.
Manziel held five of the Aggies’ six best single-game passing marks, topped by his 464 yards in a loss to Alabama last season. Hill moved past them all with his flawless showing on the road.
“That team was so much better than us, it wasn’t funny,” said Spurrier, trying for his 200th victory as an SEC coach. “They out-coached us, out-played us, they were better prepared and they knew what they were doing.”