And for that, the whole of Aggie Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.
It had been nearly two months, since the SEC media days in mid-July and since the cash-for-autographs “scandal” in early August, that Johnny Manziel had spoken to the media, with Texas A&M slapping a zipper on the quarterback’s lips in the hopes of expediting the passing of the firestorm. Following the win over Sam Houston State in which he accounted for nearly 440 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, the reigning Heisman winner addressed the media… and did nothing to add any fuel whatsoever to the Johnny Football fire.
Needless to say, Manziel was asked about the last month or so that saw him come under NCAA investigation and ultimately hit with a half-game suspension he served opening weekend. Speaking in generalities, Manziel stated that he leaned on his Aggie football family during that time, letting them know during his NCAA-mandated mea culpa that he’s focused on the field even as if it seems the rest of the country is focused on the stuff off of it.
“The biggest thing that’s helped probably is just being around these guys, being in this building and having my teammates and still being able to be around them, It was easy to block all the stuff out, get off everything, not read anything and just grow with my teammates and continue to get a better bond with them and just spend time with them. …
“To let them know I’m here and I’m focused on this season and I love each and every one of these guys … that’s the message I was trying to get across. These guys mean the world to me. There’s so much other stuff that gets played on and is out in the public. But we know what is in this building.”
With one of the biggest games of the regular coming up against Alabama Saturday, one that will have as much hype as any in the past several years, Manziel looked to downplay the significance of a game being played the third weekend of the season.
“It feels like another game,” he said. “It feels like Week 3 of the season. We’ve got to continue to get better as a team continue to get better on every aspect, offense, defense, special teams. (To) have a full lineup back and a full roster back of guys who have been out will be nice.”
Prior to the start of the 2015 season, most prognosticators had the SEC West coming down to either Alabama or Auburn. Five weeks into the season, neither of those teams sit at the top of the divisional heap.
With Kyle Allen triggering the offense and John Chavis orchestrating a virtuoso defensive performance, No. 14 Texas A&M had little trouble dispatching No. 21 Mississippi State in a 30-17 win that, for whatever reason, seemed much easier than the score makes it look. The 5-0 Aggies carried a 24-10 lead into halftime, and the 3-2 Bulldogs could only get as close as 10 points, 27-17, early in the fourth quarter on a Dak Prescott touchdown run.
As was the case in the first half, the true sophomore Allen was a big reason for the Aggies success.
Allen accounted for a career-high 385 yards of total offense, 322 passing and 63 rushing. The passing yardage is second only to the 358 he put up in last Saturday’s win over Arkansas, while the rushing yards are the most of his young career.
Tra Carson added 109 yards rushing and a touchdown to supplement the passing game.
The Bulldogs were able to move the ball in the second half — 233 yards in the last two quarters, compared to 173 in the first two — but could never mount much of a scoring threat outside of Prescott’s run that capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive. Prescott finished with more than 300 yards of offense, 210 passing and 96 rushing.
With the win. A&M moves to 2-0 in SEC play. LSU, also at 2-0, is the only other undefeated team in league play in the West. After a bye weekend, A&M will have its hands full the next two games as it hosts Alabama and travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss.
It is typically unwise to go overboard with reactions based on any one week of the college football schedule, but something learned on Saturday in the SEC is the No. 25 Florida Gators (5-0, 3-0 SEC) just might be the team to beat in the SEC East Division. The Gators were not in need of last-minute heroics the way they were a week ago. With No. 3 Ole Miss rolling into Gainesville, the Gators stomped and drowned the Rebels in The Swamp the way Florida teams of years past used to do their opponents, 38-10.
The offense was locked in. Quarterback Will Grier, flu and all, completed 24 of his 29 passing attempts for 271 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Kelvin Taylor picked up 83 yards on the ground and Demarcus Robinson had eight catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. The Gators offense played the game without a single turnover and they had the edge in time of possession.
The defense incredible. There was nothing Ole Miss could do about the outcome of the game because for the first time in years it was the Florida Gators setting the tone from the start and following through until the clock expired in the fourth quarter. By the time the Rebels reached the end zone, which they had done plenty of times leading up to this game, the Gators were already ahead 38-3 in the fourth quarter. Chad Kelly had 259 passing yards and a touchdown and he was also the leading rusher for Ole Miss with 40 yards. Turnovers doomed Ole Miss, with four turnovers leading to 20 points for the Gators.
Jim McElwain has Florida heading in the right direction, and it’s been a long time coming for the program. Now we will see if McElwain can keep this momentum going. Next week Florida visits Missouri, who has represented the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game each of the past two seasons. After that is the annual rivalry game with Georgia in Jacksonville. These next two weeks will help Florida prove itself as the new top threat in the SEC East. Right now, at this point in time, there should be no arguing that is the case after Missouri has lost to Kentucky and Georgia went down in flames at home against Alabama.
Florida may not be back as a national title contender, but they are certainly more than capable of making a run back to the top of the SEC East and getting back to Atlanta. This division is Florida’s to lose.
Ole Miss will get a chance to regroup and put up 60 points next week at home against New Mexico State before a road game at Memphis.