By Darrell Puckett
Johnny Manziel who? That’s the question that Alabama and Auburn fans have been asking this season after both defeating Texas A&M. The real question should be, why not Manziel? Why haven’t you beat the top two teams in Alabama after winning the Heisman trophy as a redshirt freshman? Can Johnny Football beat the tough SEC teams without a supporting defense? This week I take a look into Texas A&M football this season and why they’re 5-2.
Manziel has completed 159 of 217 pass attempts for 2,289 yards, 18 touchdowns with 7 interceptions, while completing 73.3 percent of his passes. Last season he completed 295 of 434 pass attempts for 3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions, while completing 68.0 percent of his passes. Through seven games, Manziel has actually outdone his performance from last season thus far, but is experiencing more difficulty this year.
So what’s the deal with Johnny Football?
Alabama has shown its ability to build another championship caliber team, but how about Auburn? The loss to the Crimson Tide was due to an interception thrown in the second quarter, but how did Manziel lose his composure against an Auburn team that is rebuilding? It’s simple. Manziel is putting too much pressure on himself to perform like he did last season.
Of course that’s just a general answer and doesn’t present any insight. Let’s look deeper. Manziel has never experienced adversity in the SEC like this season. There were a total of five upsets in SEC play this Saturday, so maybe the conference is just better this season.
The A&M defense is 104th overall in points scored against the team, and 27th in rushing. The offense ranks 5th overall and 4th in points scored, so possibly Manziel feels the pressure of having an inexperienced defense and must put the team on his back. Let’s take a look into depth on defense.
The Aggies have a total of 18 freshmen, eight sophomore, nine junior, and 15 senior defensive players listed on rosters. With 15 seniors, why can’t they play defense? Key injuries have put a toll on the Aggies, but every team deals with injuries. Something needs to change for Manziel to excel this season.
Despite his struggles this season, Johnny Football is still going to be a first round NFL draft pick. For everyone criticizing Manziel, he will succeed past the SEC this season. Hate or love him, there’s no doubt in his big-play ability and winning mentality.
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[Edited by Anne Stanford and Silvia Giagnoni 10/21/13]