Thursday, August 16, 2012

Manziel Madness

With the big news of Johnny Manziel being named the Aggie starting Quarterback, Ben and Scott couldn't help but to exchange some emails and dissect the happenings!

Scott: Big news coming out of Aggie land on Wednesday. Johnny Manziel was named QB#1. How does this make you feel Ben? I will go ahead and start with this... for the 2012 season... I am ALL IN with Johnny Manziel. As for 2013 and beyond... well we can touch on that later in this conversation.

Nothing about Showers got me excited for the upcoming football season. I merely viewed him as a stop gap until a more talented player could arise (and it looks like that player is already Manziel). Manziel definitely represents the higher ceiling, and he represents a more potent threat when running with the ball. Those are the two largest sticking points for me. Now don't get me wrong, I have never seen Manziel play football beyond highlight videos (and he sure better look awesome in those), but he seems to bring a good deal of speed and athleticism to the table. What do you see in Manziel? What is your gut feeling?

Now I definitely don't want to blow too much smoke up Manziel's butt, cause after all he will be a redshirt freshmen QB going into uncharted SEC territory. That statement scares me. One thing I am thankful for. From this moment on, Johnny Manziel is QB#1. That means he will be expected to step up as a leader, and more important than that, he will be treated like one. And I think this will be most crucial in the fact that majority of the practice snaps are now his. Repetition in a new offensive system is crucial. And now he will get as many reps as possible.

How do you feel today Ben?

Ben: The thing that is sticking on my mind is how impressed I have been so far with Coach Sumlin. It seems like years ago (rather than 8 months) that every Aggie was having to talk themselves off the cliff after the Sherman firing fiasco (ps - it's been real, Bill Byrne! Enjoy retirement!). From Day 1, Kevin Sumlin has embraced his role as head coach of the lone SEC member in the football-crazy state of Texas.

The quote that jumped off the page for me was, "my policy is simple really, the best player is going to play." This is HUGE. Remember the extended suffering we had to endure when Sherman stubbornly left Jerrod Johnson on the field, only to throw flapping ducks that made for easy interceptions, all while Ryan Tannehill was on the bench? Sumlin's insertion of Manziel in the starting lineup over locker room leader Showers is a statement to the rest of the team. If you think Sumlin holds reputation or feelings in higher regard than results, you are kidding yourself.

This is exactly the kind of energy that has been lacking over the past, I don't know, DECADE. Ever since Slocum was run off the field, there has always seemed to be a lack of urgency and passion among the players. Sumlin has completely flipped that attitude before a game has been played.

Look, I feel for Showers. A guy doesn't earn the respect and trust of a major college football team by being a dud. He is obviously talented and possesses the necessary leadership skills, but right now, the head coach thinks Manziel is better suited to run the Aggie offense. Tough break. It happens. Get better, wait for your opportunity, then make the most of it.

As for Manziel, holy cow. Where to begin? The dude was responsible for over 5,000 yards of offense and 75 touchdowns as a senior at Kerrville Tivy, while earning Parade All-America honors. The talent is there. By all accounts, so is the heart. The question, obviously, is whether he is mature enough to handle the pressure of being an SEC quarterback. The task ahead is daunting.

Exactly two weeks from tonight, we will begin to find out.

What next, Scott? Want to discuss Manziel's gold cleats? His arrest over the summer, which makes for a pretty good "overcoming obstacles" story line? The ridiculousness of comparing Manziel to Bucky Richardson, as some have already begun to do? The weather?

This email chain is our oyster, my friend.

Scott: First thing, don't you bring up Jerrod on this email chain.

Second thing, Kerrville Tivy, they are that other new team in the SEC West right? Oh, they aren't? They are 4A high school in Texas... breathtaking.

Sorry, I had to take a shot at your otherworldy stat vomit. Listen, I want my quarterbacks to have had successful high school careers, it definitely shows you something, but lets not kid ourselves, the talent gap between great high school players and the rest of them is extraordinary. That gap diminishes greatly in College, and then even more so in the NFL.

I agree with you on Sumlin, I love his personality. He is charismatic and personable, yet he rules with an iron fist. I wanted a leader who demanded he be heard. None of this passive leadership, I want the vocal riot. As I mentioned before I am glad he made this decision now (granted I would not have been glad if the decision was made in Showers favor). The responsibility and the reps Manziel will have from now to LA Tech are crucial.

A new topic I want to dissect. What this means for the future. I am going to go ahead and eliminate the possibility that Manziel stumbles enough for Showers to step in and take the job convincingly (this definitely could happen, but for the sake of this argument I am saying it won't). Did we just find out who will be leading the Aggie offense for the NEXT FOUR YEARS? If so, this is a pretty huge moment. It is not often that a redshirt freshmen quarterback wins the job, and if so, that would make potentially four potential seasons as a starter. What does this mean for Matt Davis? I mean this is all pending on Manziel success (which the Aggie faithful will no doubt predict), but there is no way Matt Davis can catch home if Manziel has a year up on him. What does this mean for Kohl Stewart and Kenny Hill? They would be redshirted next year for sure, then eventually compete (although I bet one transfers) for two years of being a starter in 2016 and 2017... that is assuming Matt Davis isn't even in the big picture.

Forgive me for not enjoying the present. But I just couldn't contain those thoughts and questions...

Ben: I KNEW YOU WOULD FOCUS ON MATT DAVIS.

To be fair, I thought the same thing. As hyped as Davis/Stewart/Hill are, that's the way these things go. At the end of the day, this is a great problem to have. The situation you just outlined implies that within the next two years, the Aggies could potentially have not one, not two, but FIVE talented guys competing for the starting QB job. Do you realize how long it has been since the Aggies have had such an abundance of riches at the game's most important position? I do - like ever.

Granted, this is all hypothetical, and none of the five aforementioned players have even started a game in college. We are purely speculating based on hype/high school careers. But wow, what a great problem to have.

Having multiple impact guys at one position is a sign that this program is improving. As everyone should know by now, Mike Sherman did a lot for this program that didn't show up in his winning percentage. That man laid the foundation for what I believe could be an explosion in the SEC West. Major college programs have more than one stud at a certain position. Having that level of talent promotes competition and results in the athletes pushing each other to work harder and get better.

I wish we had 3 talented guys competing at every position. By no means is Manziel the permanent starter. Don't count out Matt Davis, Scott. There's still hope for your Aggie man crush.

Something else that this decision and the resulting statements revealed to me is that Sumlin is not going to be afraid to play the young guys. He simply believes that the best player should play. 

By that logic, are we saying adios to Ben Malena, and bonjour to Trey Williams? Later Dustin Harris, hello De'vante Harris?

Now I have you going... Let the games begin!

Scott: As my Dad likes to say, everybody is undefeated in the off season! The future is bright (and that future pretty much completely hangs on Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel).

As for the youngsters? Bring 'em on down. Ben Malena will become an afterthought (especially when Brandon Williams becomes eligible). Trey Williams is going to be dynamite, while I am usually against the notion of running backs changing the fortunes of teams, Trey has that electric ability. Beyond the quarterback situation, Trey Williams is definitely the Aggie I am most looking forward to watching.

And De'Vante Harris is my main man. He is the unofficial spokesperson and future ambassador for Aggie Rundown. With that being said, I am incredibly excited about all the positive information being passed along in regards to De'Vante and his "pure cover skills".

Next on the frosh list... Thomas Johnson. While Sabian Holmes got all the pub early on, Johnson has returned to 100% and asserted himself as a possible starter. Sabian Holmes could be the next Ryan Swope with his quickness and natural receiver savvy, but Thomas Johnson could become what Jeff Fuller was destined to become, but never really did. 

Goodness, I get all mushy when I talk about the youngsters. Cheers to Ryan Swope, Christine Michael, Luke Joeckel, and Jake Matthews for being absolute studs. Studs in the Big 12, studs in the SEC, studs anywhere. I sure do hope they like "Johnny Football" (that is the only time I will say that).

A big day in Aggie land. That is for sure. Your closing thoughts Ben?

Ben: August 30 can't get here soon enough. Let's take this thing one game at a time and hope for the best.

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