Where have you gone Johnny Manziel?
The answer is Cleveland, and the Texas A&M Aggies obviously miss their former quarterback’s presence.
The No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide annihilated the No. 21 Aggies 59-0 Saturday. Nick Saban‘s squad dominated every level of the game. The Crimson Tide racked up 602 total yards. Meanwhile, the Aggies’ explosive offense was held to only 172 total yards.
While Alabama earned an opportunity to move up the national rankings, Texas A&M is going in the opposite direction after its third-straight loss.
Over the past two weeks, the Aggies have been outscored 66-0 during the first half against the Ole Miss Rebels and the Crimson Tide.
After the past three seasons, Sumlin’s squad lost multiple top talents. Manziel, wide receiver Mike Evans and offensive tackles Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel were first-round draft picks. Players such as running back Christine Michael, defensive end Damontre Moore, linebacker Sean Porter and wide receiver Ryan Swope were also drafted. As well as Sumlin has recruited for the Aggies, it’s still a young team at key positions and lacks talent in others.
The Crimson Tide easily exploited Texas A&M’s problem areas. It starts up front with an undermanned defensive line. Alabama’s offensive line mauled its way to 298 rushing yards. Texas A&M couldn’t counter.
The Aggies’ normally explosive offense couldn’t stretch the field. Quarterback Kenny Hill was under pressure throughout the contest and forced off his spot. Alabama played sound football by keeping everything in front of them and not allowing yards after the catch.
These problems became a recipe for disaster.
Fans of Texas A&M should expect plenty of changes after this week. Sumlin already stated at halftime of the game some players would be replaced.
No one should be safe after Texas A&M laid another egg, including Hill after throwing six interceptions the past three games.
As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
For those looking for a slate of games that would really shake the hell out of things, Week 8 would certainly be a good start. No. 3 Clemson falls from the ranks of the unbeaten. No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 Louisville and No. 9 UCLA stumbled mightily, the latter two suffering their first losses of the season. And that’s without even mentioning the utter chaos from the preseason favorites in the SEC East. When the polls are released later today, there should be an entirely new and utterly strange feel to the middle to the latter half of the Top 10. Alabama and Oregon, of course, will remain 1-2. Florida State will likely take over Clemson’s spot in the No. 3 hole, leapfrogging No. 4 Ohio State. After that? How about No. 10 Miami or No. 12 Baylor or No. 14 Missouri climbing into the Top Five? Or Fresno State and Texas Tech moving into the Top 10? Of course, all of this chaos occurs on the eve of the first release of the BCS standings… and with still seven weeks until the final rankings set the two teams that will play in the title game. This is going to be one helluva ride over the next month and a half. Color me giddy over the prospects.
No stage too big, no light too bright
If you saw Jameis Winston walking into the Tigers’ den known as Death Valley, you never would’ve guessed he’s in his first year as a starter and about to play in the biggest game of his life. If you saw him in the pregame locker room video clip shown on the broadcast, you never would’ve guessed he had just five starts under his belt. If you saw him on the field against the Tigers? You knew you were looking at a redshirt freshman who was the most talented player on a field full of them and one who could very well be the Heisman front-runner when it’s all said and done. The 444 yards and three touchdowns he put on Clemson in the 51-14 waxing only told part of the story; at no point during the game, even after his lone interception, did you get the sense Winston was not in complete and total control of both himself and his team. The coolness he displays, the grip he has on whatever the situation may be, would be stunning for a 10-year NFL vet let alone a “kid” a year and a half removed from high school. If there’s such a thing as “it,” Winston has it.
What a turnaround they have going on down on The Plains. Exactly one year ago today, Auburn was sitting at 1-6 and was a week away from a 42-point woodshedding at the hands of Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel. Fast forward 365 days, and the Tigers are sitting at 6-1… with a huge revenge win over Texas A&M stuffed firmly into its résumé. The difference between last year and this one, and between Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn, is stunning in its starkness. In 2012, AU was winless in SEC play; this year, the Tigers are alone at 3-1 and behind only in-state rival Alabama in the SEC West. If you’re looking for one of the midseason front-runners for Coach of the Year, look no further than Malzahn. Not only has he brought hope for a bright future to the Tigers, he’s brought results in the here and now. Just absolutely brilliant, what Malzahn is doing with what’s essentially Chizik’s players.
Game of the Century? Try Game of the Millennium.
While that may be overhyping it a little — hell, it’s overhyping it by a wide margin — Alabama-Texas A&M still has all the makings of an instant classic.
The defending BCS champions coming to town seeking revenge for its lone loss in 2012? Check.
Johnny Manziel attempting an upset repeat — UA’s an eight-point favorite — coming off a controversy-filled offseason? Check.
Two teams ranked in the Top Six holding very realistic title aspirations, with the winner coming out with a clear path to the SEC championship game and thus a BCS title shot? Check.
The Johnny Cam may be over the top, but the coverage dedicated to the game leading up to it is not. Even for the third week of the regular season, a game featuring two SEC West heavyweights is indeed that important — and that’s armed with the knowledge the Tide still managed to win its division… and its conference… and the BCS title despite the loss to the Aggies in 2012.
So, with all of that in mind, let’s take a position-by-position look, after the jump, at how the two gridiron gladiators matchup:
Johnny Manziel couldn’t have possibly been under a lot of adversity during Texas A&M’s spring game on Saturday, but the Heisman Trophy winner still looked sharp heading into his second year as the team’s starting quarterback.
Manziel threw for over 300 yards and was finished shortly after the beginning of the second half. Kevin Sumlin said after the game that he was pleased overall with the first-string offense, including new center Mike Matthews.
“With that first group… I think we had one holding [call]. The ball was moving. There weren’t a lot of balls on the ground, sloppy penalties, 10 or 12 men on the field. I thought the first group moved efficiently.
“We have a quarterback who understands it [the offense] now, but a new center,” Sumlin continued. “As long as we don’t notice him [Matthews], he’s doing a great job.”
Manziel looked fine — that much was expected — but who Manziel will throw to this season continues to be one of the focal points for the Aggie offense in 2013 as veteran receivers Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu are both gone. LeKendrick Williams, who had just 116 receiving yards all of last year, had the best day with seven receptions for 105 yards. Derel Walker and Mike Evans, coming off a sensational freshman year in which he led the team in receiving yards, had 79 and 73 yards receiving, respectively.
It’s tough to tell how a team is going to operate in the fall based on what happens in the spring, but Sumlin’s remarks today should give Aggie fans at least some reason for optimism — at least on offense.
An electrifying start to his Michigan career may not have led to a Heisman as some had predicted, but Denard Robinson has still proven popular when it comes to a top-selling video game.
EA Sports announced Tuesday that the ex-Wolverine quarterback has won the fan vote and will grace the cover of the NCAA Football 14 game. Robinson edged out Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope for the honor.
While the exact number of votes cast was not given, EA Sports stated that over 250,000 were received.
“It’s my goal to make somebody’s day every day, but today the Michigan fan base and family made my day,” Robinson, who will not be compensated for appearing on the cover, wrote on Twitter after the results were announced. “It’s a blessing. Thank you all! Love!”
Robinson becomes the third UM player to appear on the cover, joining Desmond Howard (NCAA Football 2006) and Charles Woodson (NCAA Football 1999). Both of those players were Heisman winners.
Last year’s cover boy was Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.