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Is A&M’s Manziel That Good Or Is Bama’s Defense Not As Good As 2012? Yes

johnny-manziel-decks-bama-playerWrap your minds around these numbers, sports fans:


*  28-of-39 passing for 464 yards

*  Five touchdown passes (against two interceptions)

*  14 rushes for 98 additional yards

*  A 562-yard one-man performance as part of a 628-yard day overall


Even if you hadn’t already seen the highlights and box score from Saturday’s Johnny Manziel show, you would have likely guessed, “Johnny Football!” if asked what college football player had posted such eye-popping numbers.  But would anyone have guessed those digits had come against top-ranked Alabama?


So the verdict from Saturday: Manziel looks just as good — if not better — than he did a year ago.  An offseason of tweets and autographs hasn’t held back Texas A&M’s QB one iota when it comes to on-field performance.  In fact, Bama had all offseason to prepare for the Aggie superstar and it made no difference.  Spies.  Mush rush.  Good athletes.  All torched by Manziel’s remarkable touch on the ball and his fleet-footed escapability.

At the same time, the 2013 Alabama Crimson Tide haven’t looked a whole lot like the 2012 or 2011 BCS champion Tide… aside from that whole undefeated thing, of course.

If/when Kirby Smart finally decides to depart Tuscaloosa and seriously chase a head coaching job, don’t expect Bama’s performance in Saturday’s contest to be listed on his resume.  His defense — Alabama’s defense — was put to the sword to the tune of 464 yards passing and 164 yards rushing.  The Red Elephants were saved by two interceptions of Manziel, one of which was returned 73 yards for a touchdown on a fantastic run by Vinnie Sunseri.  In the end, that was enough for a 49-42 UA win.  (We took the Tide 35-28, for the record).

In Game One, Alabama’s offense struggled.  In Game Three, AJ McCarron and the Tide offense had to bail their defensive counterparts out.

Expect Nick Saban’s rebuilt defense to improve.  After all, there aren’t many one-man wrecking crews like Manziel dotting the college football landscape and we all know how well Bama has recruited in recent years.  But at this stage, Bama’s defense doesn’t look like its old self.  In last year’s 23-17 loss to Manziel and the Aggies, for example, Alabama allowed 19 fewer points and just 418 total yards of offense.  So, yes, there is reason for some concern in the UA football complex today.  You don’t yield 628 yards and laugh it off.

Even though Manziel really is that good.

On his best behavior Saturday, the biggest CBS football audience since 1990 fell in love with his skills all over again.  There is no player like him today.  Just as Tim Tebow and Cam Newton appeared to be “once in a generation” players, Manziel is the latest to wow America with “how’d he do that?” plays and moves.  Just imagine how much positive hype this kid would be getting had he not shared his every offseason move with half-a-million Twitter followers.

On Saturday, he erred in the turnover department — A&M lost that battle 2-1 after winning it 3-0 in last year’s matchup — but Manziel’s overall performance was coruscant considering the pre-game hype and the foe.  His 562 yards of total offense were the most ever racked up by an SEC player against an SEC defense.

So is Alabama’s defense not as good as it was in 2012?  Is Manziel really as good as he looked on Saturday?

Yes.  On both counts.




someone remind aggie's A.D. that only coach saban and the MAN UPSTAIRS controls the TIDE. we all politely and quietly smiled,that he thought he and the moon had ANY say in the matter.


you know what else is bigger in TEXAS;;;;;;;ALABAMA'S  SCORE


one thing can finally put to rest: no more of this "whoever has had however long to figure ouy and prepare for johnny/A&M offense".  that saying got so old it was ridculous, and it finally got shot down.  i kept asking why no one thought johnny would improve, why no one thought sumlin would do his due diligence and, you know, actually study film and look to take the next step forward that many 2nd-year coaches do with their systems, etc and no one could give me straiight answer.  like sumlin said a few weeks ago: "we have coaches, too".

time to put the lame excuses to rest and let the truths come out: johnny is for real, last year was not a fluke, A&M has a contender-worthy offense but a young, struggling defense that needs to improve fast if they want to contend for more than "just" the cotton or capitol one bowls (it's a big step forward for the program when those are considered low marks).  there, the truths are out, no more rumors, time to enjoy the rest of an already exciting season!   


You've been bagging as hard as anyone on manziel, but now its time to realize that you need to really sit back and enjoy the undisputed greatest player in college history...

Manziel, in his last 2 games against top ranked opponents, (No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 1 Alabama)...

1,078 total yards
751 yards passing
327 yards rushing
9 TDs
Most total yards ever in Cotton Bowl
Most total yards ever against Alabama

In his Heisman season, Johnny averaged 8.06 yards per play.

In his phenomenal first year under center for A&M, Manziel's 5,116 total yards were the most ever gained by a player in a single season in SEC history. Perhaps not surprisingly, Manziel's 393.5 yards per game average is also a conference record. He compiled the first, second and tenth biggest SEC games in terms of total yardage -- ever. His 1,410 rushing yards rank 19th all time on the single-season list for the league, and his 3,706 yards passing was the eight-best year the SEC has ever seen; either one of those marks would be impressive in their own right. His conversion rate on third down was more than TWICE as good as the Heisman season third down conversion rates of Tebow, Newton, and Griffin. His converstion rate on 3rd down and 7 or more yards is more than TWICE as good as any offense in the history of college ball for which stats exist on the internet.... that goes back to 1959.

So far in 2013? 9.8 yards per play. A 22% increase.

In just 15 career starts, Johnny already has 5 of the top 6 total offense games in A&M history.

In the 80+ year history of the SEC, no one had ever had a 550 yard game prior to Johnny. He's done it three times in only 15 starts, and he has sat 10 full quarters, mostly due to big leads.

Two of Johnny's three 550+ yard performances came against ranked opponents.

In his Heisman season, Johnny averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt with a 155 rating. In 2013, he's at 11.1 yards per attempt and a 198 rating.

Bottom line, he's already far surpassed the individual performances of any other player... and if he sticks around there is a shot at him winning the ultimate prize as well, a MNC.  But win one or not, there is no denying that he's the most entertaining and effective player to ever suit up for a college team.

Other Accolades:

NCAA records & notes

FBS Freshman record: rushing yards by a quarterback, season (1,343)[5]
FBS Freshman record: total offense, season (5,116)[5]
Most games with 300+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards, career (3)[5]
FBS record: First Freshman (and 5th player ever) in FBS history with 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards, season[5]
FBS record: Rushing yards by a Quarterback in a Bowl Game (229 yards)[5]
Second freshman in FBS history to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards[5]
First Freshman to win the Heisman Trophy[5]
First Freshman to win the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award[5]
First Freshman to win the Manning Award[5]
Only the 4th player to have 20 Passing TD's & 20 Rushing TD's, season

SEC records & notes

Most yards total offense in a game (576, breaking Archie Manning's 1969 record of 540 yards)[51]
The first 3 spots on the SEC total offense in a game
576 yards
562 yards against #1 Alabama
557 yards two weeks before the 576 yards
Most yards total offense, season (5,116, breaking Cam Newton's 2010 record in two fewer games)
Most yards total offense, game average (383.3, breaking Tim Couch's 1998 record, of 377.4 yards)
Highest yards per play average (50 plays minimum), game (10.71, against Arkansas on September 29, 2012, breaking Steve Tanneyhill's record of 10.0 yards)
First SEC quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in one season

Texas A&M records & notes

Record for total yards in a season with 5,116.
Record for passing yards in a game with 464 yards against #1 Alabama on September 14th 2013.
Also has the 2nd spot with 453 yards against Arkansas on September 29, 2012.
Most yards total offense in a game (576, breaking Archie Manning's 1969 record of 540 yards)[51]
The first 3 spots on the Texas A&M total offense in a game
576 yards
562 yards against #1 Alabama
557 yards two weeks before the 576 yards
In 10 games, Manziel had 4 of the top 10 games in total offense in Texas A&M history.
Logged 10 straight games with 300 or more total yards.
The third A&M quarterback to surpass 3,000 passing yards in a season.
The tenth A&M quarterback to surpass 4,000 passing yards in a career.
The 2nd most passing yards in a single season.
The most rushing TD's in a single season.
The 3rd most passing TD's in a single season.
5th in career passing TD's.
Tied for 15th in career rushing TD's.
7th in school career passing yards.
24th in school career rushing yards.


Begs another question. Is Alabama's offense that good or is Texas A&M's defense that bad? Given the two games by the Tide and the three by the Aggies to date, it looks as though A&M's defense really is that bad. If you like close, high scoring games, they're the team to watch this year.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


Who at this site has ever said Manziel isn't for real and that last year was a fluke?  If you could direct me to any point where that's been written or hinted at, I'd appreciate it.

And if it's not been written here, why type your response to it here?

Even in defeat, even when I write a glowing column about Manziel's play... the response from some Aggies is negative.

As for writing that other teams might figure out a way to defend Manziel, well, that's pretty much what's said every time an athlete or team has an amazing season.  Teams try to figure them out.  For the Michael Jordan's, they never do.  For most others, they do.  Alabama didn't.  I never wrote that they would... I wrote what I thought they'd try to do and I said we'll see if Manziel and A&M are up to the challenge.  Now we've seen the result.  And I wrote gushingly about it.

But truth be told, I did pick Alabama by seven and I'm pretty sure they won by seven.  Wonder how many Aggie fans who defend Manziel -- even when he's being praised -- picked their team to lose on Saturday? 


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


What a waste of time copying that from some messageboard.

I haven't "bagged" on Manziel as a player.  That's the difference between you and me.  I can see -- and have stated a million times -- that he's a great player.  I can also see -- as can everyone else not dipped in maroon and white -- that he's had a number of off-field issues in the last few months.  Hell, I will be surprised if there's not some other Manziel brouhaha before year's end.  

I call each Manziel issues as I see it.  To say he played great Saturday doesn't mean I've somehow come around.  I've always thought he was a good player.  You -- and quite a few Aggie fans like you -- are the ones so the world as being only "love Johnny or hate Johnny." Sorry, but many of us have a bit more depth than that.



@cbr45111 I haven't seen anyone questioning his spectacular on field talent/results. It is his off field activities, self centeredness, and extreme self promoting that have caused many outside of Aggie Nation to have difficulties with JFF. 

The difference is, those outside of the A&M bubble see good and bad Johnny while some in Aggieland see only good Johnny. Both exist.


@the_voice I think you're dead on by saying A&M will be in a lot of shootouts.  They will come out on top every time except this past one.  Prob even if they somehow see Bama again in the NC.  As a bama fan, I would be worried.


@yerboyfloyd @bamaboyintn i try to not clutter my life with things fans crying for coaching jobs or fans crying over dead stupid of any fan to think that hurting a poor tree makes your team better.nope,nope ,nope.i had to endure not having a coach in the late ninetes and early twenties.,so---as i enjoy this successful part of our history, you will just have to endure me.i don't hate people when we lose,(which will cycle back again)so don't hate when we win. 


@John at MrSEC @alamoaggie08

oh for the love of god, john, i'm talking in general, not directly to or about you. the internet world does actually revolve around more than heck i'm giving you credit for actually recognizing those things considering several other sites haven't. is there no such thing as general comments anymore? has it gotten to the point that nothing can be said anymore that doesn't 100% directly relate to every word in your article or praise your royal SEC-ness?

what i'm talking about is the "rumors" that circulated everywhere all summer long leading up to this game, and all i'm saying is i'm glad they've been put to rest.  you know, kinda like what you said?  was it mostly trash talk by opposing fans and some media members that needed to get a negative post about A&M out there? of course, but they can't claim that crap anymore. plenty of people (yes, including you) pushed that "saban has had time to prepare" line so much so that sumlin finally had to respond to it in a recent press conference with his simple "we have coaches, too" line.

finally, you want to talk about allegedly putting words in others' mouths (or in this case comments), where did i say you were wrong about the outcome of the game? i didn't go into that game with high expectations of winning (mainly because of the defense), but i, like you, think johnny came out of this game a winner anyway. he put all the general rumors and assumptions to rest, and now people are talking about his play on the field (in a good way), not off it. another common rumor (and let me just confirm so that you don't get confused again: i'm talking about in general, not something generated by you) was that anything other than a win would be bad news for johnny and would tarnish his image even more. well, guess what? despite the loss, despite the INT's, he still came out of it a better candidate for the heisman than he went in, and he came out of it without being hated any more than he already was. if he had to lose, when all is said and done it's not a bad situation to be in, correct?


@John at MrSEC @cbr45111 You know you don't like Manziel and you prey on his negative decisions.  Just like you hate MarshallHenderson.  You can't stand for someone to be good and act the way they want. 


@dsnyderbama7 @the_voice JFF is high risk, high reward. He takes crazy risks, such as the fling and pray after remarkably escaping a near sure sack. It worked because his receiver made an outstanding catch, but it could have just as easily been an interception. From an opponent's standpoint, he'll either kill you (usually) or self destruct (last Saturday). Most games it doesn't matter (he's that good when he's good), but when you play high level competition, flip a coin. Nobody knows what to expect out of him. 

The game I would love to see is Oregon v. TAM. Both teams might top 100.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@alamoaggie08 @John at MrSEC 

When comments are left under a story, sorry, but I think that would suggest to most people that you are indeed commenting on what's been written on  For example, if I walked into McDonald's and yelled, "hamburgers taste bad," I think most would assume I'm referring to McDonald's burgers, rather than Wendy's.



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