Johnny Manziel Must Be a More Aggressive Runner Against Ole Miss

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2013

Sep 21, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

While Johnny Manziel has been working on improving his passing game this season, the game against Ole Miss will be won with the quarterback's running ability.

The dual-threat player won the Heisman Trophy last year while dominating teams with both his arm and his legs. However, opponents have done a better job of limiting him from leaving the pocket this season.

After totaling 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground in 13 games a year ago, he is only on pace for about 816 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013. He also does not have a single run of longer than 21 yards all year.

This is not truly concerning due to the improvements in the passing game, but he will need to channel his 2012 self this week.

Although Ole Miss enters the week at 3-2, this is a dangerous squad ready for an upset. The talented, young roster is coming off two tough losses on the road and return to Oxford for only the second home game of the year. This is likely to create an imposing atmosphere for the road team.

Additionally, the Rebels excel at stopping what Texas A&M does best: pass the ball. The defense ranks 18th in the country with only 185.6 passing yards allowed per game, and only Washington has allowed fewer yards per completion.

The big, physical cornerbacks can match up with most receivers and slow them down, including Mike Evans.

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Kenyan Drake #17 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes against Derrick Jones #19, Cody Prewitt #25 and Mike Marry #38 of the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by K
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Even Alabama's AJ McCarron struggled against this secondary, throwing for only 180 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The Crimson Tide only scored 25 points against Ole Miss, their lowest scoring total since the Aggies held them to 24 in last season's upset.

However, last week's game against Auburn showed that a mobile quarterback is capable of beating this defense. Nick Marshall only passed for 93 yards, but he scrambled for 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers' win.

While Marshall is a quality runner, he cannot even compare to the speed and elusiveness of Manziel. The Texas A&M quarterback has the ability to beat almost any defense with his legs and pick up huge chunks of yards consistently.

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 14:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates after throwing a first quarter touchdown during a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Sco
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The key for him in this game will be to look for it to happen. He is obviously trying to evolve as a passer, but there will not be too many open looks this time around. He must take what the defense gives him and run the ball.

To this point, the most rushing attempts he has in a game is 14. He had at least 15 carries in eight different contests last year, most of the time coming on scrambles instead of designed runs.

He needs to regain that creativity that made him a star in 2012.

If he can be aggressive as a runner in this game, he should once again lead a huge scoring output as Texas A&M cruises to a much-needed victory.


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