Just in Case, an Xs and Os Breakdown of Johnny Manziel Backup QB Matt Joeckel
With the heat on Johnny Manziel in College Station, Texas, it's time to take a look at Matt Joeckel, Texas A&M's backup quarterback. He's the twin brother of Luke Joeckel, the former Aggies tackle and second overall pick in the 2013 draft, and came to A&M under former head coach Mike Sherman as a three-star, pro-style quarterback recruit, according to Rivals.
When you start to break down what Joeckel brings to A&M, the first thing to note is what you will not get, such as plays like this in the run game.
Or, plays like this where passing plays transition into big runs.
Or, plays like this where the threat of the quarterback run freezes the defense, allowing for a big play.
Or, plays like this where improvisation creates opportunity.
However, what the Aggies can expect out of the backup quarterback is a much more traditional Air Raid attack. At 6'4" and 234 pounds, Joeckel is the prototypical pocket passer that Sherman was looking to develop into the leader of his offense. Now, in the shotgun-based Air Raid attack, Joeckel brings a solid arm, sound decision-making and plenty of ability to the table.
Outside of Manziel, the Aggies' quarterback position is short on experience. Joeckel's 42 yards, on 5-of-11 passing, are the extent of the in-game production for all of the other QBs on the roster. While the offense, after losing so many of the elements provided by Manziel, would look different to fans, for the players involved, there would not be as much change.
Co-offensive coordinators Clarence McKinney and Jake Spavital only lose one concept from their offensive playbook: quarterback runs. Removing quarterback runs and quarterback run-action fakes still leaves the bulk of the offense intact.
McKinney and Spavital will still have run plays like the running back draw and the zone. Through the air, the options are vast, as Joeckel gets to work on the bulk of the plays we saw Manziel turn into highlights with his legs a year ago.
In the clip here from 25:29 to 29:16, Joeckel leads a drive in the Texas A&M spring game running the same offense that fans are used to seeing with Manziel, minus the quarterback-run threats. With Joeckel in the game, the quartet of running backs will be doing the work by themselves, pushing the offensive line to move bodies full time, instead of having the help of Manziel to draw defenders and influence defenses.
Luckily, the offensive line is stout and capable of blocking for the draws and zones that help make up a healthy portion of the ground game.
On that same drive, the various aspects of the pass game—screens, intermediate and downfield—are all visible as well. This offense is designed to be quarterback friendly. The Aggies are going to continue to spread teams out with doubles' sets and test linebackers and safeties' abilities to cover the seams, as you can see at the 28:49 mark of the video above.
The offense is also going to force defenders to make decisions in coverage with simple concepts that are difficult to cover. At 26:28, LeKendrick Williams, No. 10, gets open because the receiver outside of him pulls the corner inside on the inside vertical route, and the inside receiver pulls the flat defender to the short route.
If Joeckel is pushed into action for the Aggies, the offense is going to run most of the same concepts it did a year ago with Manziel at the helm. The major difference will be quarterback-run action, but this is the same scheme that helped guys like Case Keenum put up big numbers at Houston, without the run-pass duality of Johnny Football.
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