Johnny Football doesn’t do Heisman hangovers.
I’ll fess up. The Cotton Bowl was the first time that I watched Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel play. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like him. And I’m old.
His performance was ridiculous. He completed 22-of-34 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown. He ran 17 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including one that had dance moves down the sideline reminiscent of Fred Astaire, Gregory Hines…okay…Justin Bieber for the younger demographic.
The greats always seem to be playing in a faster gear than everyone else. They see things more quickly, react faster and appear to be unchallenged. That’s what I saw in the Cotton Bowl from Johnny Manziel.
I said earlier that I’ve never seen anything like him. Yes, I just heard the Kinel kids all reminding me that I also said I’m old. That’s what makes Manziel so amazing. I have seen a lot.
When Manziel accepted the Heisman Trophy, he talked about being a kid and throwing “Hail Marys” to his dad in the backyard like former Heisman winner Doug Flutie, the player Manziel is most compared to.
It’s easy to see why that comparison is made, but I don’t think it quite fits. Manziel, at 6’1” and 200 pounds, is bigger than Flutie, who was 5’10” and 180 pounds. Manziel has more speed and is a better runner than Flutie. He ran for 1181 yards this past season, leading the SEC. Flutie ran for 149 yards during his Heisman year.
Manziel is also more accurate as a passer than Flutie. Flutie completed 60.4 percent of his passes during his Heisman year, but only 53.2 percent for his Boston College career. I know that it’s a different game now, but Manziel completed 68 percent of his passes this year.
The other comparison that came to my mind was to real old-timer Fran Tarkenton. It’s not a fair comparison to look at Tarkenton’s numbers back in 1959 and 1960. While I’m NOT old enough to have seen him play in college, I do remember him in the NFL. Again, Manziel is bigger than Tarkenton’s 6’ and 190 pounds. While Tarkenton was a magical scrambler, not nearly as good a pure runner as Manziel. He only ran for 146 yards in his two years at Georgia.
Will Manziel sustain this level of play? We’ll find out next year.
Will he win another Heisman? Again, we’ll find out next year, but what a race it’s shaping up to be with AJ McCarron and Jadeveon Clowney.
Will he succeed in the NFL? I don’t know but that’s not an issue now. Let’s just enjoy Johnny Football while we have him.
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