Texas A&M's redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel put himself on the national map with an eye-opening performance against SMU on Saturday afternoon. His performance in the second game of his college career indicates that he should be a headache for Southeastern Conference defenses for years to come.
Manziel passed for a freshman school record of 294 yards to go along with 124 yards rushing. His 418 total yards also set a Texas A&M record for freshmen. His four touchdown passes tied an Aggie record for freshman quarterbacks.
It is safe to say that if he stays healthy for the next four years, he will likely rewrite some of the record books. The scary thing for SEC defensive coordinators is that Manziel is only scratching the surface of what he should be.
Manziel and his teammates are playing in a brand new scheme. Once they all jell on the field, the offense should really be a sight to behold.
This is a look at why Manziel should wreak havoc on SEC defenses for years to come.
Manziel put up over 400 yards of offense against SMU basically by improvising. It has become obvious in the games against Florida and SMU that Manziel does not have a full grasp of the offense.
He needs to work on going through the progressions and also needs to learn to step up in the pocket. Manziel is very accurate when throwing on the run, so Kliff Kingsbury needs to take advantage of that and add some more roll-outs and bootlegs to take advantage his mobility.
As Manziel learns more of the offense and the Aggie coaches learn how to better take advantage of his skill set, the offense will continue to improve.
There is no official 40 time for Manziel, but anyone who has watched him play can see that he is fast. Against SMU he outran the angle on some of their defensive backs.
Florida has one of the faster defenses in the country and Manziel was fast enough to turn the corner on its defense. The bottom line is that he is fast enough to be a weapon at the college level.
Manziel has enough speed to punish defenses who try to flood the zone with defenders in order to stop the pass. His speed allows him to make plays off schedule and hurt defenses when a play breaks down.
The Texas A&M wide receivers are still developing chemistry with Manziel. With the quarterback competition between Manziel, Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel going deep into the fall, the receivers did not have a lot of time to adjust to the tendencies of one quarterback.
Manziel seems to have developed a lot of chemistry with fellow redshirt freshman receiver Mike Evans. Both Evans and Manziel spent last season on the scout team while they redshirted and obviously developed a feel for what to expect from one another.
As the other receivers get more reps with Manziel, it should benefit the Aggies' passing game.
Eventually the Aggie coaches will adjust their spread system to Manziel's talents. The coaches will figure out that Manziel is a greater threat to a defense when he is on the move than in the pocket.
Once they start rolling out Manziel more and using bootlegs with run or pass options, the defenses in the SEC will be forced to pick their poison. By rolling him out, the coaches can take him away from the pass rush and create more space on the field. If defenses lay back, he will run; if they stop the run, then he will throw over them.
Right now there is a learning curve as Manziel figures out what the coaches expect from him and the coaches determines how to best utilize his talents.
With five starters returning on the offensive line in addition to Christine Michael and Ben Malena at running back, the Aggies were expected to have one of the top running games in the nation in 2012.
So far that has not been the case as the Ags have struggled to consistently run the ball. As the offensive line starts to jell, the running game will get better and better. When the running backs become more of a threat, opposing linebackers will not be able to focus as much on Manziel.
When the running game improves, Manziel will become even more of a threat on the zone read.
The first two games of Manziel's college career will probably be the worst two games of his college career. He is still adjusting to his role in the offense.
As Manziel gains more experience, he will gain even more confidence in the system. The game will slow down for him and he will be even more dangerous to defenses.
This season is the SEC's best chance to succeed against Manziel. With his skill set and the experience he will gain, he should be an excellent football player going forward.