Because he now plays his football in the same state, Johnny Manziel has become the go-to guy for an NFL perspective on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
In late August, the former Texas A&M and current Cleveland Browns quarterback was asked about OSU’s situation at his position after Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending shoulder injury. The Buckeyes bounced back from that injury, as well as an injury to the replacement, to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff against top-ranked Alabama.
Manziel, of course, played in the SEC West and faced the Tide twice as a starter in 2012 and 2013. In going 1-1 in those games, Johnny Football was outstanding, completing more than 74 percent of his passes for 717 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. For good measure, he added 190 yards rushing.
So, yes, he knows a little bit of what it takes to be successful against the Tide’s normally stout defense. Earlier this week, Manziel was asked by the Cleveland Plain Dealer for any advice he’d impart on dealing with his old college nemesis.
“You absolutely give respect where it’s due,” Manziel told the Plain Dealer, “and they’re a program that has won numerous national championships and been at the top of the SEC.
Cardale Jones will be making just his second career start — his first was mildly successful — in one of two semifinal matchups. Even as it’s not even remotely how he approached the games, Manziel had further sage advice that both the player and, perhaps most importantly, Urban Meyer‘s OSU coaching staff should take to heart.
“[W]hat’s important is to be extremely efficient and take care of the little things,” the 2012 Heisman winner said. “Don’t make things any worse than it already is being out there against a defense that’s extremely good and fast. Take what’s given to you and live to fight another day. Don’t force things. Sometimes it’s OK to punt the ball and get a stop on defense. …
“My advice to (Jones) is not to try and do too much. Put the pressure on Coach Meyer and [offensive coordinator Tom] Herman to put you in good position to succeed and go from there.
There you have it, Buckeyes. JFF has given you a ‘Bama cheat sheet; do with it what you will.