Johnny Manziel Must Shine Saturday in Tune Up for Alabama Clash

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - AUGUST 31:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies waits near the bench during the second quarter of the game against the Rice Owls at Kyle Field on August 31, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Texas A&M squares off against Sam Houston State Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET, and the focus will be on sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel as the team uses the matchup as a tune up for the Week 3 game against the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

After being suspended for the first half of the program’s Week 1 victory over Rice, Manziel will have his first chance to start this year in Saturday’s game against Sam Houston State.

Not only must Manziel shine bright as an individual to build his Heisman Trophy case, but the second-year starter must also lead his team to a convincing victory without any of the controversy that followed him into the regular season.

Despite beating the Houston Baptist Huskies 74-0 in Week 1, Sam Huston State should be the perfect warm up for the Aggies. Manziel will have ample opportunities to shine against the Southland Conference’s top team, but he must be almost flawless in order to be mentally and physically prepared for the tough test that the entire program will face in Week 3.

Alabama will travel to College Station next Saturday and provide the toughest test on the schedule for Texas A&M this season. While the Aggies were victorious over the Crimson Tide in the 29-24 upset last November, these are two entirely different teams now.

Texas A&M allowed 31 points against the Rice Owls in Week 1 and must focus as much on tightening up the defensive ranks as getting Manziel playing well. Alabama will have no problem running the ball and wearing down its opponents over the course of the entire game.

That’s where Manziel must help his team by keeping the offensive unit on the field for as long as possible.

The more time Texas A&M’s defense has off the field against Sam Houston State and during the Week 3 matchup against the Crimson Tide, the fresher the unit will be when it hits the field and the more effective it will be stopping Alabama’s talented offense.

As long as the sophomore QB handles himself with more maturity through the next two weeks, the Aggies' offensive unit will be able to burn the vaunted Crimson Tide defense after they looked beatable at times against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Week 1.

Chemistry with his teammates is continuing to be built heading into next Saturday’s battle, and Manziel must shine this week in order to get himself and the entire program ready for the toughest test of the year.

Texas A&M needs Manziel to not only take the role as the most important player on offense, but to also lead the team to a comfortable tempo and rhythm against the Week 2 opponents.

All eyes will be on Johnny Football again this week.