Texas A&M Football: What Can Johnny Manziel Do as a Heisman Encore?
Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel took his first collegiate snap on Saturday, September 8, 2012, against the University of Florida. It was on that day, at Kyle Field, that the legend of "Johnny Football" was born.
In his first season, Manziel has tormented defenses with his arm, legs, and ability to extend plays. Breaking both SEC and national offensive records almost weekly, people began running out of things to say about the exciting first-year phenom. The Aggie QB put together a highlight reel of a season in 2012 and capped it off by becoming the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner.
But what can a player, who has accomplished in his first season what many can only aspire to do in an entire career, provide as an encore? What can we expect to see from Johnny Manziel in his sophomore season?
Break His Own Offensive Records
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In just his fourth start at QB, Johnny Manziel set the SEC record for total offense in a single game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Two weeks later, he broke that same record again.
That was the type of freshman season Manziel had. He finished with multiple Texas A&M, SEC and national records in his back pocket, with his biggest accomplishment coming when he brought down Cam Newton's SEC single-season total offense record with 4,600 yards.
What is even more astounding is Manziel did this while sitting out a total of nine quarters throughout the season.
"Johnny Football" has a very good chance of coming into his sophomore year, now with an entire year of experience behind him, more productive than ever. This is because, just like Manziel, Texas A&M's entire coaching staff is finishing up their first season as well.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin (SEC Co-Coach of the Year) and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury have done an amazing job with the Aggie offense with just one offseason to work with. Another year of offensive schemes, now with a Heisman Trophy winner at the helm, is a scary thought for SEC defenses that were barely able to tabs on the Aggies this past year.
It would not be a surprise if Johnny Manziel breaks his own SEC single-season offense record in the 2013 season.
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Johnny Manziel accounted for eight interceptions in his freshman year, which may not stand out as a bad number to many people.
What does stands out is he had three against LSU alone, marking the game against the Tigers as Manziel's worst. A good performance by him could have led to an Aggie victory, putting Texas A&M in line to appear in the SEC championship.
During a three-way quarterback battle in the offseason, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said Johnny had to work on his turnovers. Looking at his performance this past year, Manziel clearly made some improvements.
Next season, we will see a version of "Johnny Football" that is much more efficient in his pass selections. Another year of learning to read defenses will greatly improve Manziel's decisions, especially with as many throws on the run as he has.
Keep out of Trouble
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On June 29, 2012, Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct, failure to identity and possessing a false identification card. He was jailed overnight.
You could look back at the incident saying Johnny was just 19-year-old college student acting the way 19-year-old college students act. But the A&M quarterback is no longer confined to everyone else's standards.
He's a Heisman Trophy winner.
Regarding the arrest, Manziel told the Associated Press:
It was a critical mistake in my life. Something I had to learn a lot from and something that had its consequences with coach Sumlin, with my teammates and with everybody here in Aggieland. … I’ve had to make changes in my life.
Most of the media has allowed him to move on from this part of his life, though one Sports Illustrated voter left Manziel off his ballot completely.
Many believe Johnny has moved on from this personal setback, and his accomplishments this season may be the biggest evidence of that. Don't plan on seeing another mugshot circle the web anytime soon.
BCS Bowl Game
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In their first year playing in the SEC, Texas A&M finished with a 10-2 record, putting the Aggies tied in second place in the West Division behind Alabama—an Alabama team that was defeated in Tuscaloosa by the Aggies and Manziel.
Not bad for a team many said wouldn't be able to keep up with the high-quality squads the SEC usually produces.
Both the quarterback position and coaching squads were brand new this season. With a little more fine-tuning of the offense over the offseason as well using experience from their first season, the Aggies eye the possibility of a BCS bowl game at the end of the 2013 campaign. Many even considered Texas A&M deserving of one this season.
And coming from the SEC, that BCS bowl game they are eyeing could very well be the BCS National Championship Game.
Another Heisman Season
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No freshman, other Johnny Manziel, has ever won the Heisman Trophy. That means no other player in college football has ever had three years to earn his second "stiff-armed" trophy.
Only Ohio State running back Archie Griffin has hoisted the the Heisman two times.
In his sophomore season, you can expect Manziel to put up more unbelievable stats, make video game-like plays and make another run for college football's most treasured award. He will undoubtedly be on the top of everybody's preseason Heisman lists. And of course with that comes high expectations and pressure.
High amounts of pressure might be the only thing holding Texas A&M's QB back from winning the trophy again. But as the nation saw this past season, if anyone overcome large amounts of pressure placed upon them, its "Johnny Football."
Expect to see Manziel back on that stage in New York in December accepting his second Heisman.