Johnny Manziel

2013 presents a new challenge for A&M’s Johnny Manziel


Everything about Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel caught the rest of the college football world off guard in 2012. With a new coach — Kevin Sumlin — and a new conference — the SEC West — the Aggies weren’t predicted by some *ahem* to even go bowling, much less finish 11-2 with perhaps the best individual victory of the season on the road against Alabama last November.

Meanwhile, the stars aligned perfectly for Manziel. The redshirt freshman emerged from an offseason quarterback battle where he was presumed to play the role of backup and ended up as one of the most exciting players in the country — not to mention the first ever freshman, redshirt or otherwise, to win the Heisman.

Neither Manziel nor A&M will have the element of surprise on their side in 2013. Nevertheless, the expectations in College Station are as high as they’ve ever been. The Aggies begin spring practice on Saturday, the first steps toward what the Aggie faithful feels could be a season even more special than the last.

As it should be, Sumlin’s fear is complacency. When asked what his Heisman trophy winning quarterback can improve upon this year, Sumlin replied “his footwork, his mechanics, his thought process and overall knowledge of the offense.”

Coachspeak at its finest? Sure, but understand this: 12 opposing teams now have tape on Manziel.

What has helped Manziel, and what will continue to help him, are his improvisation skills that seem better suited for Second City in Chicago than a football field. First glance tells you there’s simply no defensive scheme that will contain this:

Manziel’s “roll outta bed and ball” game is terrifying, but there are habits, tendencies, weaknesses in it. They just have to be found, and there’s plenty of time between now and the start of the 2013 season for opposing coaches to find them. Great mechanics and the ability to understand defenses are qualities every quarterback should rely on; the extra mobility Manziel displays should be a compliment to that, not a substitute.

Then there’s the issue of A&M’s offensive line. The last time we saw it collectively as one unit, it was giving Manziel an eternity to throw in a Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma. Can it hold up similarly in 2013? Although Luke Joeckel is gone — perhaps as the first pick in this year’s draft — Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi are back, so turnover along the O-line isn’t as bad as it could be.

Still, and even with his improvisational skills, Manziel had it made in 2012. Add in a pair of new coordinators with the departure of Kliff KIngsbury to Texas Tech, and the situation isn’t quite the same for Manziel in 2013.

But will he, and A&M, be as successful? Manziel showed he can handle the spotlight in the post-Heisman craze, but now comes the task of improving his game. That’s where the next several months factor in.

Diagnosed with bovine leukemia, Bevo XIV retires immediately

Associated Press

Turns out Steve Spurrier isn’t the only iconic college football figure to retire this week.

Texas announced Tuesday evening Bevo XIV has been diagnosed with bovine leukemia and has been retired to his pasture, effective immediately.

Bevo XIV missed Saturday’s stunning upset of then-No. 10 Oklahoma with what the school called a “life threatening” illness, and rumors circulated around the internet this week he had passed away.

Bevo XIV officially hangs up his horns with a 106-41 record with two national championship appearances.

There is no word at press time on a possible debut of Bevo XV.

Dabo Swinney won’t stop talking about “Clemsoning”

Dabo Swinney
Associated Press

Urban Dictionary defines “Clemsoning” as “the act of an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season.”

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked about the phenomenon following the Tigers’ destruction of Georgia Tech Saturday and promptly went off. The question, asked by ESPN’s David Hale, was in reference to Swinney’s program shaking the label – Saturday marked Clemson’s 34th straight win over an unranked opponent – but Swinney didn’t see it that way.

Armed with some new facts (Clemson SID Tim Bourret noted 50 teams have fallen as ranked opponents to unranked foes since the Tigers last did so on Nov. 19, 2011), Swinney again targeted the “Clemsoning” label.

“I think it’s an agenda. It’s just bias,” Swinney told the Charleston (S.C.) Post & Courier Tuesday. “People are uneducated. They’re just ignorant and lazy because they’re not looking at the facts. If they did, they’d be focused on other schools and not Clemson. They’d be dialed in on what Clemson has done. There aren’t three other schools in the country as consistent as Clemson, in all aspects.”

I hate to break it to you, Dabo: you are absolutely correct, but the term, as they say, has been coined.

Just go beat Florida State, beat South Carolina, win the ACC and win a national title and maybe Urban Dictionary will delete that pesky page out of a sign of respect.

Also, No. 5 Clemson hosts unranked Boston College on Saturday. This would be a very, very unfortunate time for the Tigers to suffer an upset.