We return with a little email exchange to discuss the heroics of Johnny Manziel and the state of the team going into Oxford.
Ben: Another game, another impressive performance from our favorite Aggie, Mr. Johnny Manziel. Right now, the kid can do no wrong. Hell, he is only a redshirt freshman! He still hasn't thrown an interception! He has absolutely shredded the last 3 opponents' defenses! The Florida game wasn't exactly dazzling, but we definitely saw glimpses of his potential that day. 7/8 halves of really good football is impressive. He has lit up the last 3 teams so much that Jameill Showers is seeing a substantial amount of playing time as the undisputed backup QB!
Manziel was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and SEC Co-Freshman of the Week for his performance against Arkansas. Which reminds me, Scott - smile! I'll admit, after Sumlin elected to kick a field goal up 7-0 in the 1st quarter, only to watch Taylor Bertolet miss, I was a little frustrated. After the Hogs took a 10-7 lead, I was legitimately worried that the Aggies were about to embark on yet another barn-burner with Arkansas. Alas, the power of Johnny Manziel was too much for the Hogs to overcome.
Everyone is praising Johnny Football right now - and rightfully so. Not only do the stats speak for themselves, but the guy is an absolute joy to watch. When was the last time the 12th Man was this electrified by their quarterback? Reggie McNeal during and after his upset win over Oklahoma? (Please. baby Jesus, do not let Johnny Manziel's career fall apart like Reggie McNeal's. Please. PLEASE.)
Two plays from Saturday's game against Arkansas stick out as examples of now vintage Johnny Football: 1) With the Aggies driving on their first possession of the game, facing 3rd and goal from the ARK 7, Manziel dipped, ducked, dodged, dived, and dipped his way around the pocket, faking a throw in the process, only to find an open Mike Evans in the end zone for the game's first score, and 2) In a similar situation later in the game, Manizel literally ran a circle around the Arkansas defense on his way into the end zone. A full, 15-yard circle around their front seven. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I realize the Aggies played a team coached by a puppet that may eat bath salts for breakfast and surely goes comatose by the 2nd quarter, but the team's performance on Saturday was impressive. They took care of business in a fashion that we honestly haven't seen in Aggieland in a long, long time.
Here is where I get polarizing, Scott, but I have to ask it...
Is Johnny Manziel overrated? He has played great the past few weeks, but I think we are really forgetting was Florida's defense did to stop this offense dead in its tracks three weeks ago. It's also worth mentioning that his lack of turnovers may not be due completely to his superior ball control and decision-making abilities, but rather luck. His very first pass against Arkansas was right to a Razorback linebacker, who apparently dislikes interceptions.
I love watching the guy play, and I haven't been this excited about an Aggie QB in ever. But should we slow our roll, at least just a little bit?
Scott: Wow, that was an essay in and of itself. Am I required to be brief now? Did you just bring me in here to throw a bucket of water on your flaming Manziel crush?
I won't take that bait. I am ALL IN on Johnny Football as well. The kid has swagger (and rescues kittens). The kid can play. And the kid is going to ignite the fan base in College Station.
BUT... if we don't slow down the parade, I think we are going to get a tough reality/gut check when some of the big boys come into the picture.
At home against LSU, away against Auburn, away against Mississippi State, and away against the well-oiled machine known as Alabama. Those are the big boys. And I don't think any of them are going to be overly impressed with our Johnny Football. Ole Miss and LA Tech aren't freebies, but I don't think they have the coaching nor the defense to contain our new Quarterback and his bag of tricks.
But the snowball is rolling. Every week he puts up video game numbers is another week that the nation must take notice. If only West Virginia and Baylor hadn't had a shoot out for the ages, WAY more people would have noticed the redshirt freshmen who lit up the stat sheet and snagged SEC offensive player of the week.
Speaking of stats. I hope Kingsbury and Sumlin continue to give Manziel the rock around the goal line. Every touchdown Manziel gets is a big step in the right direction for the notoriety of our program. He is now the face of the team. A Ben Malena touchdown is irrelevant. But the difference between Manziel producing 4 touchdowns and 5 touchdowns every week very much is relevant. We aren't winning the national championship nor the SEC championship... but we might end the season with the best (and certainly most influential) freshmen in the SEC, maybe even the nation. Let's help Johnny get there. You thoughts on this topic Ben?
In addition to our continued praise of Johnny Football, what else have you noticed. Swope played a great game and got involved. How in the world is Christine Michael still an afterthought? I get that Ben Malena can be a good player, but Michael can be a GREAT player. This still confuses me.
Ben: I agree, that's exactly what I was thinking. Manziel has made these last three opponents look silly, but the future is daunting. I fully expect the freshman in him to be exposed at some point. I never in my wildest dreams expected the ridiculousness of the last few games.
Malena is simply outplaying Michael. I love me some C-Mike, but I personally don't give a flip over who plays as long as we win. And convincing wins are even better. Bottom line, competition is good. The best player will get the opportunities. Sumlin made that clear on Day 1 (yet another point in Sumlin's favor!).
I'm going there. Now that we have a few games to base opinions on, what do you think of Kevin Sumlin's first season so far? To say I am impressed would be an understatement. The change in energy is more obvious than a Corps guy walking his girlfriend by the Century Tree. I love watching this team play.
Scott: WHOA! A successful (and tasteful) corps joke. I am impressed Mr. Berryman. I am extremely happy with Sumlin thus far. He has handled the media, the expectations, and the team in general extremely well.
Another tidbit as we sit 3-1. The Florida loss doesn't hurt as bad. After that game, most of my pain arose from the fact that it was a winnable game. Letting a W slip through your hands like that never feels good. But I now feel somewhat vindicated. Florida is a great team. We had a strong showing. Johnny Football sufficiently stepped up. I will even go so far as to call it a building block. Phew... this might be the most accepting of a loss I have ever been.
The C Mike situation. I am not with you. I know Ben Malena is quietly producing. But you know who produced LOUDLY last year before he broke his leg? C Mike. Now I get it... new year, new team, new coach. Not buying it. He is in the dog house. And don't get me wrong, I am sure that C Mike, himself, is the only one to blame. I sure hope he finds his way out soon though.
Want to give me a few defensive tidbits Ben? I thought our unofficial spokesperson De'Vante Harris has been playing quite well given his true freshmen status. By the way, I think we need to call him out and get him to put some thoughts to paper for us here at Aggie Rundown. De'Vante was chosen via the #AggSwagg #Outchea awesomeness. Should we just show up at his door one morning? Do we bring flowers? Protein shake?
Ben: Overall I am satisfied with the defense. They performed well in the first three games, but not so much against Arkansas. Giving up over 500 yards at home is extremely concerning. Granted, Tyler Wilson and Co. are a very talented offense, but I would have liked to have seen more pressure up front and better tackling on the back end. Wilson was doing a good job using a quick drop to get rid of the ball and beat the pass rush, and also with the lead our defense was playing off the line of scrimmage. But in a closer game against a more polished team the Aggies will have to generate pressure more consistently and do a better job of wrapping up.
Speaking of De'Vante Harris, I like the guy in coverage, but his tackling is going to drive me insane. I understand he is a true freshman that is still adjusting the size and speed of the athletes. I understand that he himself is undersized. I get that. However, simply diving at the running backs on plays that break outside has proven to be ineffective at best. Kniles Davis made him pay on his long TD run Saturday. To be fair, Harris isn't the only one. Multiple guys have looked stupid trying to trip up an offensive player and failing. Surely the coaches recognize this problem and are working to correct it. These plays make me miss Trent Hunter back at the safety position!
At the end of the day, I can't be upset about holding the Hogs to 10 points. Against a team that actually has a coach with a pulse though, the Aggies will have to be better. Arkansas was fumbling the ball like it was a greased up watermelon in a swimming pool. Most teams won't be in such a giving mood.
Any predictions for the Ole Miss game?
Scott: It will be the start of our very first SEC winning streak. Boom.