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Then And Now: The Transformation Of Johnny Football

manziel-no-sweat-deodorantThis past offseason — in between concerts, parties and autograph sessions — Johnny Manziel said that he wanted to improve as a pocket passer.  His legs had helped him win a Heisman Trophy in December 2012, but the Texas A&M gunslinger knew it would be his arm that would improve his draft stock, not just his legs.

With the 2013 regular season just two weeks away from the curtain falling, we wanted to compare Johnny Football Then to Johnny Football Now.  As a passer, a runner, and as a crunchtime leader, just how exactly has Manziel’s second year held up to his amazing introductory season?

Pretty darn well.

Below we look at four different areas and compare Manziel’s 2013 game to his 2012 play…

 

Johnny Manziel Passing Comparison

  Season   Comp. %   Yds/Game   Yds/Att.   TD-INT   QB Rating
  2012   68.0%   285.1   8.5   26-9   155.32
  2013   73.0%   331.3   10.5   31-11   186.86

 

Johnny Manziel Passing Comparison Vs BCS Foes

  Season   Comp. %   Yds/Game   Yds/Att.   TD-INT   QB Rating
  2012 (9)   69.8%   286.2   8.1   13-7   146.95
  2013 (7)   74.3%   360.0   10.5   21-10   182.56

 

Johnny Manziel Clutch Passing Comparison

  Season   4th Qtr Comp. %   4th Qtr QB Rating   3rd Down Comp. %   3rd Down QB Rating
  2012   59.7%   150.01   67.9%   182.81
  2013   83.0%   226.45   75.0%   219.00

 

Johnny Manziel Rushing Comparison

  Season   Att./Game   Yds/Game  Yds/Att.   TD
  2012   15.4   108.4   7.01   21
  2013   11.0   61.1   5.55   8

 

As you can see, Manziel’s passing numbers have improved across the board.  He’s been more accurate, more productive and more clutch in 2013 than he was in 2012.  The only decline we see is in Manziel’s rushing profile.  And once again, running less was part of the plan.

While Manziel’s improvements in the passing game should aid him when the NFL draft rolls around, the decline in his rushing numbers might cost him a second Heisman Trophy.  Last year he rushed for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Through 10 games this season he’s tallied 611 rushing yards and just eight scores.  That’s the kind of thing that Heisman voters might notice.

For those of you wondering if A&M’s offense has been hurt by Kevin Sumlin’s decision to run Manziel less, the answer appears to be no.  Last season the Aggies averaged 39.1 points per SEC contest.  This year that number has jumped to 46.0 points per league game.

Manziel has become a much better passer in 2013.  His rushing numbers are down and that could hurt his Heisman chances.  But he still has Texas A&M ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings and vying for a BCS bowl game.  Therefore, taken as a whole, the changes to Johnny Football’s game have been a net positive for the player, his draft stock and the Aggie football team.

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Kentucky’s Stoops Says It Would Be “Reckless” To End The Cats’ QB Rotation

maxwell-smith-and-jalen-whitlow-black-jerseysMaxwell Smith is the dropback passer.  Jalen Whitlow is the dual-threat guy.  Neither has done a particularly scintillating job of commanding Kentucky’s offense.

For that reason, the quarterback merry-go-round in Lexington won’t stop until someone claims the starter’s gig once and for all.  According to head coach Mark Stoops:

 

“With the quarterback situation we need to continue to evaluate that, both guys struggled at times Saturday, that had to do with a great Florida defense and us not executing.  We will continue to look at that situation as we go forward…

We’re in a little bit of a quandary right now with what to do.  We’re going to try to give it to one person, give him the reps and see what he can do.  I think we need to do that.  It has not been clear-cut at this point; it would reckless for us to name one guy at this point because nobody has taken the job and we’re going to evaluate it this week…

We need to take one of these guys to take our team.  We just practice and practice every day, and play our games and hope one guy takes charge.  He hasn’t done that yet and I think like most people we feel the same frustration at times.”

 

A comparison of the two signal-callers to date:

 

  Quarterback   Comp-Att   Yds   TDs   INTs   Yds/Att   Rush Yds   Rush TDs
  Smith   44-of-76   634   4   1   8.3   -25   0
  Whitlow   33-of-50   321   1   1   6.4   169   2

 

Pick your poison, folks.  The Wildcats fell 24-7 to Florida last weekend.  This week they travel to South Carolina.  They’ll follow that up with a visit from Alabama.

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Auburn QB Situation Still A Tight, Two-Horse Race

kiehl-frazier-jonathan-wallaceKiehl Frazier or Jonathan Wallace?  Jonathan Wallace or Kiehl Frazier?  Down the spring backstretch they come and they’re still neck-and-neck.

Both quarterbacks have made progress assimilating — or re-assimilating — Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo offense, but neither player has taken control of the race to be Auburn’s starter this fall.  According to new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee:

 

“They’re splitting the reps right now.  Nothing will change.  One guy will do a little better one day; one the other, maybe.  They’ve been pretty even.  They’ve been great.  They’ve been competing hard.”

 

Competing hard?  Probably.  Both being “great?”  Probably not.

Regular readers of this site know that we’re not exactly fans of the two-quarterback system unless two quarterbacks with very different styles are used… with one being used as a change-of-pace guy only.  In most other cases involving two similar quarterbacks who perform at the same level, an old saying usually holds true — “Show me a team with two good quarterbacks and I’ll show you a team lacking one great quarterback.”

Here’s a comparison of Frazier and Walker from last season:

 

 Player   Class   Games   Comp.-Att.   Pct.   Yards   Yds/Att.   TD   INT   QB Rating   Rushes/Yds
  Frazier   So   9   62-116   53.4   753   6.5   2   8   99.87   42-(-35)
  Wallace   Fr   9   46-80   57.5   720   9.0   4   4   139.60   51-152

 

On paper, Wallace was clearly the better quarterback last year, albeit in a different offense.  But a deeper look inside the numbers suggests he performed best when the pressure was off.  (Who doesn’t?)

With Auburn ahead or trailing by 15 or more points, Wallace was 31-of-53 for 525 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.  On the field when Auburn was within 14 points either way of its opponent, Wallace was 15-of-27 for 195 yard, no TDs, and one pick.  That’s quite a drop.

Frazier’s numbers were better with the pressure dialed down, too, but he had fewer of those opportunities.  With Auburn separated from it’s foe by 15 or more points, Frazier was 15-of-22 for 190 yards, no touchdowns and a pick.  When games had a 14-point spread or less, he dropped off to 47-of-94, two scores, and seven INTs.

The verdict?  While Wallace performed better than Frazier last year, his successes must be tempered by the knowledge that he got most of his work when games were already getting out of hand.  Frazier, meanwhile, saw his chances disappear as the season wore on.  He attempted just 13 passes over Auburn’s final seven games.

The wild card in this might be both quarterback’s legs.  With Malzahn running the Tiger offense in 2011, it was clear he trusted the freshman Frazier’s legs more than his arm.  Frazier threw just 12 passes for Malzahn that season… while carrying the ball 76 times for 327 yards and three scores.

So will Malzahn, back now as head coach, trust Wallace’s arm and legs?  Has he come to respect Frazier’s passing ability?  Or if neither QB looks like he’ll become a reliable passer, will he trust Frazier’s legs more than Wallace’s?

With spring practice winding down, there’s no way to tell what conclusions Malzahn and Lashlee are drawing yet.

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QB Moseley To Start For AU Versus Vandy

Auburn’s Gene Chizik has decided to once again start Clint Moseley at quarterback this weekend at Vanderbilt.  Last night the coach said on his weekly radio show:

 

“It’s one of those situations where at the beginning of the week you’ve really got to give them a good look just in terms of number of reps and who’s improving,  And again, Kiehl (Frazier) has kind of a little bit of a nagging injury that he’s just going to have to push some work through. That’s the bottom line.”

 

So just as Moseley’s nagging injury in the preseason gave the starter’s job to Frazier coming out of the gate, now it’s Frazier’s own injury that making Moseley the default starter.  Neither quarterback has looked great in the playing time they have had.

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