It made little difference on the scoreboard, where Texas A&M scored a runaway win over visiting Vanderbilt on Saturday, but Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal did a better job covering nearly uncoverable Aggies receiver Mike Evans than just about any corner Evans has seen this season.
Evans finished with five receptions for 77 yards and a pair of touchdown catches -- productive, to be sure -- but for a player who has torched two SEC secondaries for more than 275 yards each this season, it wasn't a poor showing for the Commodores' senior.
But Hal's day wasn't without its imperfections. Evans beat him on a go route down the right sideline for a 43-yard touchdown in the first quarter on an accurate deep pass from Johnny Manziel. Evans released to the outside against tight coverage with too much ease, and no safety help on the back end, to beat Hal with an impressive burst of speed for the score. See that play here:
Hal's best play came near halftime, when Manziel tried to connect with Evans on a shorter throw, but Hal had good inside position on the play and broke up the pass, which was then intercepted by Vandy safety Kenny Ladler.
Earlier in the week, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin commented on Hal's ability to deal with bigger receivers such as Evans (6-foot-5, 225 pounds). Hal is 6-0, 185, but has been effective against bigger receivers in the past, including Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief (6-3, 226) in the season opener.
Hal, a senior, is among Vanderbilt's top prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft. Evans is a third-year sophomore with the option of turning pro early, or returning to A&M.