As another scout explained, "This was a perfect storm kind of deal tonight in that he had a lot of time to pick his spots, and the lanes in the secondary were huge. But he still had to drop it in there. I didn't seem him make but one or two questionable decisions. Good quarterbacks take little openings and make them look huge with accuracy. He did that. That builds confidence. Now he has a month against second-tier competition to keep building that confidence."
By the end of the third quarter, the small handful of scouts who'd actually stuck around were bringing up another name from Sumlin's past, and it wasn't Manziel.
"Looks an awful lot like Case Keenum, doesn't it?"
For those of you who have forgotten, Keenum (now with the Houston Texans) was Sumlin's quarterback at Houston. In 2011, their last season together, Keenum was otherworldly, throwing for 5,631 yards and 48 touchdowns against only five interceptions. He completed passes at a 71 percent clip and posted a QB rating of 174.0.
When Keenum's name was mentioned to Sumlin after Thursday night's game, he was quick to say he doesn't like comparing players, but the whole time, he was smiling and nodding.
Like Keenum, Hill came from a big Texas high school and won a state championship but wasn't a nationally clamored-over prospect. Keenum was a two-star prospect. Hill was a three-star, so being in the shadow of all the preseason chatter about Allen, a freshman, didn't bother him. And because of his experience at Southlake Carroll High, the idea of being on big stages, like Williams-Brice, hasn't rattled him, either.
Now, as the scouts clearly knew prior to the South Carolina game -- and as the rest of world certainly knew by the time that game was over -- he also isn't above being coached. And why not? Clearly, that coach knows what he's doing.
"Sumlin has always been overshadowed," the last scout standing said as he packed up his bag after the drubbing of the Gamecocks. "At Houston they wanted to give all the credit to Kliff [Kingsbury, then the offensive coordinator and now the Texas Tech coach]. The last couple of years they wanted to give Johnny Manziel all the credit. At some point, people out there in the world are going to realize that he's a damn good quarterbacks coach."
Thursday night was a pretty nice start.