Texas A&M vs. Alabama Preview: Johnny Manziel Can Jump Into Heisman Fray With Win Over ‘Bama'

If you have been paying attention to anything I’ve been saying for the past 8 weeks then you already know how I feel about Johnny Manziel.  Having first watched Manziel play week 4 vs Arkansas, it was clear to me as to how and why and he was simply the best QB on the field that day, which is saying a lot considering Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson was projected to be one of the best QBs not just in the SEC but in the entire nation.

Manziel exploded onto the college football scene this season, leading the SEC in total offense with 383.2 YPG and rushing with 102.4 YPG and guiding Texas A&M to a 7-2 record and a 4-2 record in SEC play. Manziel is currently completing 66.6% of his passes and has thrown for 2,527 passing yards, that’s good for 2nd in the SEC while he ranks 3rd in the conference in passing yards per game averaging 280.8 per game.  

Manziel is only a freshmen but he already looks headed towards “can’t miss” territory as he has the uncanny ability to make game changing plays with his arms and feet and exhibits tremendous poise in the pocket for such a young player in such an early stage of his career.  For a bit of perspective; Manziel is averaging about 88 more YPG through the air than other dual threat QBs OSU’s Braxton Miller and KSU’s Collin Klein and he’s led his offense to almost 94 more yards of total offense per game than those 2 as well.

So where does Manziel actually currently stand in the Heisman race?  Well considering no one has actually totally separated themselves from anyone else thus far, I’d say after this Saturday Manziel could most certainly find himself standing right in the middle of the discussion and ALL he has to do is simply play well and beat the #1 team in the nation in Alabama, piece of cake right?  

What has Manziel done to warrant POTENTIAL Heisman consideration thus far you asked? Well, he's no slouch, by himself he’s averaging 393 yards of offense per game. That’s better than six SEC teams.  Not to mention his 24 offensive touchdowns is more than Missouri and Auburn have scored this season…..COMBINED.  Right now Manziel is THIRD on the SEC QB career rushing list with 922 yards, with four regular-season games plus a bowl game to go, he's just 85 yards shy of becoming No. 2 overall and can find himself within striking distance of  Cam Newton’s 1,473 yard rushing record he set in 2010.  So there's legitmacy to the Manziel praise but a SOLID effort and a win against Alabama would bring legitimacy to the Manziel Heisman talk.

Last week, in a 38-13 win over Miss State, Manziel was 30 for 36, 311 yards passing and ran for 129 yards and 2 TDs.  He completed 83.3% of his passes and had a QBR of 155.90. HIGHLY HIGHLY impressive stats for a freshmen QB to say the LEAST but let’s not kid ourselves; Manziel and this Aggies team WILL have their hands full and MORE this week going up against the Tide.  LSU who beat the Aggies rather convincingly just gave Bama their BEST knockout punch and Bama took said punch, dropped to one knee, got back up before the count was over and delivered a DEVISTATING finishing blow to LSU.  You’d have to imagine that Alabama head coach Nick Saban, being the disciplinarian and non-nonsense coach he is, won’t tolerate any more close calls that is brought on by mistakes and penalties like he witnessed against LSU and will have this Tide team ready to dominate the Aggies on Saturday but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance for Manziel and his team to have a chance at winning or at the least, being competitive.   Alabama is allowing a stingy 66 rushing YPG so far this season and while Johnny Manziel is averaging an impressive 102.4 rushing yards per game, you’d have to believe that Saban and this defense WILL force Manziel to beat them with his arm and not allow him many chances to run wild.  Keep in mind that in Week 1, the Tide held Michigan’s similarly swift Denard Robinson to 27 yards rushing but he did have 200 yards passing and two long touchdowns against the Tide secondary and this is where I think Manziel MAY be able to find SOME success against this tough Alabama defense a defense that allowed LSU’s QB Zach Mettenberger to complete 68.6 % of his passes along with throwing for 298 yards and a TD in a valiant losing effort.  Simply put, this isn’t last season’s Alabama defense and there ARE holes in this defense, mainly the secondary that CAN and SHOULD be exploited and an extremely talented and poised QB like Manziel is just the person to exploit it.  Denard Robinson, as talented as he is, isn’t as good a passer as Johnny Manziel which is why Alabama adjusted their game plan accordingly when they noticed his erratic passing during their week 1 matchup. 

Manziel, who is as athletic a runner as Robinson is more of an accurate, complete and consistent passer than Robinson and can and should make more plays with his feet against the Tide than Mettenberger did last week when the opportunities present themselves.  When the dust clears, Manziel will find himself being praised for his ability as a POISED and accurate pocket passer as well as a dynamic running QB, something that is very rare in the football world today. Yes there are QBs that can run and throw but can they do both GREAT....not adequately but GREAT?  Manziel is very capable of putting this type of play together.

With a breakout performance, Manziel will not only be in the Heisman discussion but it will force many to realize what I realized early in the season; that within 2 seasons, Johnny Manziel WILL be the next “can’t miss” QB prospect.  Truly the sky is the limit for Manziel and I’ve seen nothing from him that leads me to believe that he can’t or won’t develop or mature into the next “can’t miss” QB prospect, but to get respect and proper recognition, Manziel will HAVE to start playing well against and beating the teams he ISNT supposed to beat or play well against and though he floundered against LSU a few weeks ago, he is now being presented with another opportunity to show case his talents against the CLASS of college football in Alabama and what BETTER way to begin the “Maniziel For Heisman” talk than with a great performance against the defending champs?