Johnny Manziel may very well win the Heisman as a redshirt freshman tonight, and only one defense really contained him–the Gator defense. Manziel praised the Gators as being one of the top defenses his team faced, and that they were very quick [Sun Sentinel]. That being said, let us debunk a couple myths, and then look at his games.
Point 1. First, Aggie fans will say that the only reason aTm lost is that it wast their first game of the season. Well, the Aggies lost to LSU 19-24 later in the season as they got better against a similar defense and offense as the Gators–a team that Florida beat 14-6. It would be reasonable to assume that no matter where in the schedule aTm played Florida or LSU that it would be a low scoring affair, and aTm needs to pile 4 scores onto an opponent in order to win games. On top of that, there is no guarantee that they would have beaten Louisiana Tech in their first game of the season, considering how they barely beat them in the rescheduled game in week 7, 59-57. Are you ****ing kidding me! Where is the defense? Johnny Manziel was the Aggie defense–just score so many points that the opponent cannot keep up! Here are Johnny Football’s offensive outputs per game. Even the paltry Mizzou’s Amoeba Defense had some success against Manziel’s rushing offense in their matchup–not so much with the passing offense. Summary: the Aggies would have lost against an elite SEC defense in week 1 or week 12 nine times out of ten.
- Louisiana Tech – postponed
- Florida 23/30, 173 yds, 5.8 ypa, 0 TD, 0 INT, 60 yds rushing, 1 TD, L 17-20, 233 yds tot off
- SMU 20/36, 294 yds, 8.2 ypa, 4 TD, 0 INT, 124 yds rushing, 2 TD, W 48-3
- SC State 15/20, 174 yds, 8.7 ypa, 3 TD, 0 INT, 78 yds rushing, 2 TD, W 70-14, 244 yds tot off
- Arkansas 29/38, 453 yds, 11.9 ypa, 3 TD, 0 INT, 104 yds rushing, 1 TD, W 58-10
- Ole Miss 17/26, 191 yds, 7.3 ypa, 1 TD, 2 INT, 129 yds rushing, 1 TD, W 30-27
- Louisiana Tech 24/40, 395 yds, 9.9 ypa, 3 TD, 1 INT, 181 yds rushing, 3 TD, W 59-57
- LSU 29/56, 276 yds, 4.9 ypa, 0 TD, 3 INT, 82 yds rushing, 1 TD, L 19-24
- Auburn 16/23, 260 yds, 11.3 ypa, 2 TD, 0 INT, 90 yds rushing, 3 TD, W 63-21
- Mississippi State 30/36, 311 yds, 8.6 ypa, 0 TD, 0 INT, 129 yds rushing, 2 TD, W 38-13
- Alabama 24/31, 253 yds, 8.2 ypa, 2 TD, 0 INT, 92 yds rushing, 0 TD, W 29-24
- Sam Houston State 14/20, 267 yds, 13.4 ypa, 3 TD, 1 INT, 100 yds rushing, 2 TD, W 47-28
- Missouri 32/44, 372 yds, 8.5 ypa, 3 TD, 1 INT, 67 yds rushing, 2 TD, W 59-29
Point 2. What this shows us is that, yes, Florida did keep Johnny Football to his lowest output in the season. If you are an aTM homer, you will argue that they only limited him because it was his first game, but look what powerhouse SC State did later in the season–limit him almost as much as Florida did. Also look how explosive La Tech was in all their games. There is no guarantee that aTm would have piled on 2 more points than La Tech in game 1 when they almost lost to them at midseason with a horrendous defensive stand. Then look what LSU did at midseason, and what Mizzou did in the end of the season. Their argument that Johnny football is unstoppable except when inexperienced is a fallacy. Good defense beat good offenses sometimes. It just so happens that Florida’s defense was the best Johnny faced all year. The next best defense was LSU’s, and he lost that game despite throwing for 3 TDs and 276 yds. Summary: Yes, Manziel got better over the course of the season, but his team still lost two games against elite defenses. Point out Alabama all you want. AJ McCarron was only one pass away from beating A&M and rendering this a moot discussion.
Point 3. To say that Manziel would have fared better against an elite defense later in the season is sheer madness! The Gator defense had absolutely no film on the Aggies to study with. Manziel “only” amassed 190 yards of offense against a VANILLA DEFENSE. The Gators even spotted the Aggies a few plays by being too aggressive and getting penalties that helped the young freshman move the ball closer to the goal line. Once the Gators went into the locker room at the half, the Aggies were done. The Gator defense did what they did to EVERY OTHER OFFENSE (except maybe the feisty Vanderbilt offense and a couple minutes of the Seminole offense) and shut down the second half offense to the tune of 49 yards. Summary: The Gator defense absolutely shut down Manziel, and would have done it at any point in the season. It is the one thing that the Gators can do well.