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Sumlin Says Texas A&M’s Manziel Is Still Improving

gfx - they said itYesterday, we compared the 2013 Johnny Manziel to the 2012 Manziel.  The results were favorable for the A&M signal-caller. 

Also yesterday, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin weighed in on his quarterback’s improvement and continued development.  He’s still just a redshirt sophomore, after all:


“His knowledge of the system in Year Two is and should be better than it was last year.  To think conceptually instead of just route-wise or one thing at a time has been the biggest challenge.  That’s the biggest challenge for anybody.  I think you’ve seen that with a lot of the players that were just playing their position last year.  They understand the offense.  They understand the route concepts.  In order to do that, you’ve got to understand what the defense is doing because of the changes in the route based on what you see.  You’ve got to start thinking like a coach.

I was very pleased with some of the things (Manziel) did out there last Saturday.  We’re not where we were with Case Keenum, but he was a sixth-year guy.  Johnny’s getting there.  He made some progressions on Saturday night.  I like the direction that we’re headed as a team from a communication standpoint.  That comes with experience.”


No one has ever questioned Manziel’s talent.  His off-field decision-making has been hashed and rehashed, but his skills with a football in his hand and turf beneath his feet are exceptional.  Which begs the question: From purely a football perspective, how good might Manziel become if he actually stayed in College Station for Year Three and Year Four?

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UM’s Freeze Asks Rebel Fans For Patience (Just A Little Patience, Um, Yeah-eah-eah)

New Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze met with fans at a “Rebel Reunion” event in Jackson yesterday.  His message was that of a man who’d just walked into a mess that will take plenty of time to clean up:


“Everyone should have one expectation and one only as we start this journey out of the wilderness and into the promised land, so to speak… That one expectation is that you should expect for us to compete passionately for 60 minutes for this great university, the University of Mississippi…

We ask for patience.  We ask for you to rejoice with us in the great moments, and hurt with us in the difficult ones.  There’ll be some of both.  I promise you that. But the end result will be something we’ll all be very proud of and I look forward to that day where we can celebrate together.”


Patience.  What a novel idea.  Unfortunately, when it comes to millionaire football coaches in the SEC, there’s no such thing as patience.  Freeze should phone up Joker Phillips at Kentucky or Derek Dooley at Tennessee to ask them about patience.

Phillips inherited a mid-level program — that he’d actually helped as an assistant to build to mid-level status — and in two seasons he’s snapped UK’s long losing streaks to Steve Spurrier and Tennessee.  Yet he’s on the hot seat going into Year Three.

As for Dooley, with the exception of someone taking over a program firebombed by NCAA sanctions, it’s hard to imagine a coach stepping into a worse situation than the one he landed in the middle of at Tennessee.  Two coaching changes and massive attrition in back-to-back years will do that.  Yet if Dooley doesn’t win seven or eight games in his third year, there are many who believe the Vols will have a new head coach — no doubt asking for patience — this time next year.

Now, we’re not suggesting Freeze was wrong to ask for patience.  We just know he won’t get more than a year of it.  Maybe less.  That’s life in the SEC.

(Sidenote — Rumor has it Freeze has been walking the streets at night.  Just tryin’ to get it right…)

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3 SEC Signing Classes Ranked Among Rivals’ “Unlucky 13″

Nothing can wipe out a signing class like coaching turnover.  Well, that and thuggery.

In a piece yesterday ranking the 13 unluckiest — initially highly-ranked — signing classes, coaching transitions and off-field shenanigans led three SEC recruiting classes to be labeled as duds.

Among them:

1.  Tennessee, 2009 — The unluckiest class on the list.  This one was Lane Kiffin’s crew.  Arrests, violations of team rules and eventual transfers — when Kiffin left — decimated the class.

6.  Tennessee, 2007 — Phillip Fulmer’s next to last class was filled with busts as well.  Academics and players who never even arrived on campus hurt.  When some others were disappeared by Kiffin when he took over in ’09, things only got worse.

12.  Florida, 2008 — Transfer, transfer, transfer, transfer, drug-related dismissal.  At the height of Urban Meyer’s Gator tenure, he brought in a class that’s better known for underachieving than achieving.  Again, it’s no wonder that his departure and Will Muschamp’s arrival contributed to the mess.

Texas A&M’s 2003 class was unlucky #13 on Rivals’ list, but since A&M was playing in the Big 12 at the time, it’s hard to rank that as an SEC class… even if the Aggies are now part of the family.

What’s not surprising is that Tennessee has taken an overall nosedive as a program with two classes impacted by defections and coaching-change-driven attrition.  Toss in a 2005 class that was initially ranked #1 by some services yet failed to produce any all-time greats and it’s clear why things went south on Rocky Top. 

While Derek Dooley hasn’t won enough games to satisfy Vol fans in his first two years — and he’s squarely on the hot seat entering Year Three — the man has quietly re-stocked UT’s cupboard.  He’s inked three Top 20 signing classes despite the mess left by Kiffin and an NCAA investigation that hung over the program for two years.  Question is: If Dooley’s ousted at season’s end, will attrition take its toll on the Tennessee program once again?

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