Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel continued a highly competent defense of the Heisman Trophy in a dominant 65-28 win over Sam Houston State on Saturday in College Station.
Manziel was 28-of-41 passing for 403 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 36 yards and another TD. His day started with a bang in leading his team on an emphatic scoring drive:
Johnny Manziel: 4-4 passing for 62 yards on Texas A&M's opening scoring drive— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 7, 2013
After the Bearkats responded to knot the contest at seven apiece, Manziel fired a 27-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Sabian Holmes to put the Aggies back on top to stay.
One could argue that Johnny Football did not do much to advance his legend or enhance his case for college football's most prestigious award against an FCS opponent, but the Bearkats weren't exactly slouches.
First of all, the Aggies had three defensive starters suspended for the game and an additional one sitting out the first half of this contest, per USA Today. That's at least part of the reason the opposing team was able to rack up 240 yards on the ground and 390 overall.
Television personality Skip Bayless says some ridiculous things from time to time, but he brought up a good point about the potential danger this game presented for Manziel and Texas A&M:
Classic trap game for A&M w/ Bama next. SamHoustonSt back-to-back national FCS runner-up. A&M: 6 defenders suspended. Go, Johnny, go.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 6, 2013
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Sam Houston State's success in the FCS as runner-up the past two seasons at least somewhat elevates Manziel's latest dominant outing.
Manziel did throw an interception in the first quarter but was essentially flawless apart from that.
Also on display was the passion that Manziel typically brings to the gridiron. It was far more reined in than last week, too, when he drew criticism for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and trash-talked to opposing defenders very openly.
After Saturday's game, Manziel addressed the media and discussed what he told his team in the locker room regarding the attention he'd received from it, per TexAgs.com:
Manziel on his meeting with the team last week: "I said a lot of good things. It was a little bit of an emotional deal for me...— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) September 8, 2013
Manziel: "...There's a genuine love for each and every guy on this team. That's the message that I was trying to get across [last week]."— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) September 8, 2013
Also covered was next week's marquee showdown with the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, and Manziel said the seventh-ranked Aggies are simply looking at it as another game:
Manziel on #Bama game: “It feels like another game, feels like week three of the season. We have to continue to get better as a team, get...— TexAgs.com (@TexAgs) September 8, 2013
It appears Manziel is starting to take the more business-like approach that the mass media and his other critics seem to want him to take. As long as he doesn't cost his team with penalties or critical turnovers and still displays his fiery competitiveness on the field, Manziel should keep up in the Heisman race.
Even against a far weaker opponent than the Tide will prove to be, it was a big step for Manziel in terms of putting up big numbers.
But Manziel let his play do the talking this time around, and reversing a lot of the negative perceptions about himself might be a more important factor in the Heisman vote than his gaudy statistics.