Texas A&M v Mississippi

Does Johnny Manziel have an interception problem?


There’s no doubt that Johnny Manziel is in the process of following up his extraordinary freshman season with a very successful sophomore year.

In some areas, he’s clearly ahead of where he was in 2012. For instance, he has improved his passing efficiency, his completion percentage, his passing yards per game and his number of touchdown passes. However, he is not gaining nearly as many rushing yards or scoring nearly as many rushing touchdowns as he did last season when he led the SEC in those categories.

Some contend that the decline in his ground game production is due to his development as a passer and that’s a valid argument to make.

But there’s one area where he has clearly taken a step backward.


At the time of his Heisman triumph last season, Manziel had eight interceptions in 400 attempts. He’s got 11 in 315 attempts so far this season. That’s a significant increase

Now, I’ve always been of the belief that there will never be another two-time Heisman winner and that the factors that sink attempted repeaters tend to be more ephemeral than concrete. So perhaps Manziel’s interception total is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things, but I do believe it’s a factor that is weighing him down.

To better illustrate why that may be the case, let’s look at the interception totals of the past 12 Heisman quarterbacks at the time of the Heisman vote:

2012 — Manziel — 8

2011 — Robert Griffin III — 6

2010 — Cameron Newton — 6

2008 — Sam Bradford — 6

2007 — Tim Tebow — 6

2006 — Troy Smith — 5

2004 — Matt Leinart — 6

2003 — Jason White — 8

2002 — Carson Palmer — 10

2001 — Eric Crouch — 10

2000 — Chris Weinke — 11

1996 — Danny Wuerffel — 12

So you have to go back all the way to 1996 to find a Heisman-winning quarterback who has thrown more interceptions than Manziel has so far this season in 10 games. Manziel’s pick total looks even worse when considered in the context of current quarterback-friendly systems that have conditioned voters to expect relatively low numbers in this category (note that the higher totals come further back, before the advent of the spread).

Combine Manziel’s historically-high interception total with the abnormally low totals by his current Heisman rivals Marcus Mariota (0) and Bryce Petty (1), plus the conventionally-low number by front runner Jameis Winston (7) and there’s a stark contrast to be made in this area.

I don’t think Manziel’s 11 interceptions are, by themselves, the reason voters will downgrade his candidacy. But I do think they make his otherwise daunting task of winning a second Heisman much more difficult.

Herm Edwards visits Illini to give pep talk

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Herm Edwards of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game on November 30, 2008 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards paid a visit to another former NFL coach on Tuesday. Edwards was in Champaign to visit Lovie Smith and his Illinois football program. While there, Edwards was scheduled to give the Illini a good old-fashioned pep talk. He’s good at that.

This is a reminder that the NFL coaching fraternity remains a strong bond over the years. Smith and Edwards were never a part of the same coaching staff in the NFL, but the two have remained friends over the years. Smith having these types of connections should be exploited at every opportunity to help promote the Illini program and boost it when needed. Edwards has been a vocal supporter of Smith, so it makes sense Smith would have his pal stop by and do what he does best. And he’s done it a number of times…

At Alabama in 2013…

Or the previous year before the Las Vegas Bowl…

Or this past summer with NC State…

Illinois is 2-5 this season and now flirting with the likelihood of not going to a postseason bowl game in Smith’s first season on the job. We’ll see if Edwards is able to give the program the extra juice it needs.

Here’s hoping we get some video footage of Edwards speaking to the Illini.

PJ Fleck tells Cubs to Row the Boat, and a brief look at longest conference title droughts in college football

EVANSTON, IL- SEPTEMBER 03: P.J. Fleck head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos reacts after his teams win against the Northwestern Wildcats on September 3, 2016 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. the Western Michigan Broncos won 22-21. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The World Series gets underway tonight in Cleveland. The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs are each looking to bring an end to a championship drought that dates back over 70 years. The Cubs are playing in their first World Series since 1945. The Indians have been back to the Fall Classic a small handful of times since last winning a World Series in 1948. There are three college football programs from the Power Five that have similar droughts they continue to look to end, as far as a conference championship is concerned.

No team has waited as long to win a conference title than Iowa State, who last saw a conference championship in 1912. That came in the old Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. That conference would pave the path to the old Big Eight Conference, which of course later merged with departing members from the Southwest Conference. As the conference has evolved, Iowa State has struggled to compete for a conference crown.

The only two conference championship droughts comparable to the current droughts of the Cubs and Indians reside in the SEC. Mississippi State has not won a conference championship since 1941 (SEC), and Vanderbilt has to go all the way back to 1923 for its last conference title (Southern Conference). Playing in the same conference as college football powers like Alabama, LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia over the years has not allowed for much opportunity for either SEC program, and that likely will remain the case for many years to come.

While not quite as long of a wait, Western Michigan looks to be on track to snapping their conference championship drought that goes back to 1988. The Broncos are undefeated and have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, aside from a regular season finale against Toledo. Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck gave the Cubs a pep talk during a stop on SportsCenter this morning.

Row the boat, Cubs (or Indians, depending on your rooting interests)!

Longest Conference Title Droughts By Conference

ACC: North Carolina State (1979)

Big 12: Iowa State (1912)

Big Ten: Minnesota (1967)

Pac-12: Arizona (1993)

SEC: Vanderbilt (1923)

American: Temple (1967)

Conference USA: Rice (1994)

MAC: Ohio (1968)

Mountain West Conference: New Mexico (1964)

Sun Belt Conference: New Mexico State (1978)

Dabo Swinney confirms Wayne Gallman will play vs. FSU

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 07:  Jalen Ramsey #8 of the Florida State Seminoles misses a tackle against Wayne Gallman #9 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s now officially official.

In discussing what he described as a “dirty” hit that knocked him out of the North Carolina State game Oct. 15 with a concussion, Wayne Gallman indicated Monday that he would be available and play in Clemson’s huge showdown with Florida State this Saturday.  A day later, the running back’s head coach very emphatically confirmed the back’s availability Saturday coming of the football program’s by weekend.

He’s going to play great,” Dabo Swinney said. “He practiced the whole practice and didn’t miss a rep. He’ll play great on Saturday.”

Gallman currently leads the Tigers in rushing yards (489) and rushing touchdowns (five).  Because of the concussion, Gallman was limited to a season-low 14 yards on two carries.

In last year’s 23-13 win over the Seminoles that clinched the Tigers a berth in the ACC title game, Gallman rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown.  His 25-yard touchdown run with 2:34 remaining iced the win.

Bovada still puts Ohio State second behind Alabama in title odds

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 22:  Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes walk to the field from the locker room before the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 22, 2016 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty Images

I tried (in vain) to explain to my Ohio State-leaning family and friends that Saturday’s loss to Penn State wasn’t the end of the world.  Sunday, Kevin explained as much.

Tuesday, one wagering website revealed it doesn’t see the postseason sky falling on the Buckeyes, either.

In its latest set of odds, has placed the Buckeyes at 9/2 to win the 2016 College Football Playoff.  While that’s longer odds than the 11-4 OSU was getting a week ago, just one team sits ahead of them: Alabama at 8/5, slightly shorter odds than the 9/4 the Tide got last week.

Michigan (6/1), Clemson (7/1), Louisville (9/1) and Washington (9/1) are the only other teams to receive single-digit odds.  The Wolverines, at 7-1 Oct. 18, are the only one of that quartet of teams to see their odds shorten.

Below is the complete set of 2016 College Football Playoff championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv: