Texas A&M vs. LSU: Tigers Defense Contains Johnny Football for Emphatic Victory

Carter Bryant@carterthepowerContributor INovember 24, 2013

Baton Rouge, La. — According to Les Miles, Tiger Stadium is a place where "dreams come to die." 

Johnny Manziel learned that the hard way, as his dreams of back-to-back Heisman triumphs might have been buried into the soil of Death Valley. 

Manziel was the front-runner of the most prestigious individual award in sports before Saturday. He would be the first quarterback to win the award twice if he were to win it this season. 

Manziel has yet to be stopped this season by anybody. He has accumulated at least 300 total yards in every game he has ever played. He has two total touchdowns in every full game he has played this season. 

But on Saturday, the LSU defense gave Manziel nightmares. 

LSU played its most complete game, defeating Texas A&M 34-10. The LSU offense clicked on all cylinders, but the defense, as it has been all season, was the question mark facing a white-hot Manziel. 

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis proved yet again to be Manziel's kryptonite. 

Johnny Football went 16-for-41, throwing for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in his worst passing performance of the season. 

Manziel struggled in LSU's 24-19 victory in College Station last season. His career passing numbers against LSU now total 45-for-97 for 500 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. 

For perspective, Manziel had 562 yards of total offense against top-ranked Alabama in one game earlier this season. 

"You have to give a lot of credit to them (LSU). They came out and mixed a lot of things up and kept us guessing," said Manziel. 

Usually, Manziel keeps the defense guessing. The sophomore is a magician at making pass-rushers miss and turning it into big gains. 

Instead, Manziel said LSU often had free rushers in his face giving pressure on exotic blitzes. He rushed for 54 yards on 12 attempts, but the yards were hard-earned as he struggled to break "contain" of the LSU rush.  

LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow said Chavis was a mastermind, mixing in new defenses this year to ones that worked last year. 

"'Chief' (Chavis) schemed them up real well. We did the same thing last year, bringing in those 'Mustang' and 'Nickel' packages to try and throw the offense off a little bit."

The LSU pass rush was cautious yet effective, not allowing Manziel to break to the outside throughout the game. Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson said staying disciplined was the key to victory. 

"We are used to getting into the backfield and making plays. You can't do that against a quarterback like him," said Johnson. "He wasn't used to not running around, making those big plays that he was used to."

The speed of the LSU defense suffocated Texas A&M. The speedy Aggies could not outrun the rabid Tigers. 

The LSU secondary stifled the Aggies' talented receivers. Cornerback Rashard Robinson locked down Texas A&M's Mike Evans on the outside, earning an interception in the process.  

But of all the great defensive calls Chavis made, LSU's best defense was its dominant offense. 

The Tigers pounded down the Aggies defense on the ground, keeping Manziel on the bench for the majority of the second half. LSU won the time of possession battle in the final two periods, holding the ball for just less than 23 of the 30 minutes. 

"We felt them beginning to run down," said LSU running back Terrence Magee, who rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown. "All the credit should be given to our offensive line and coaching staff."

Miles said in the postgame press conference the extra week to prepare for Johnny Football helped. LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. simulated Manziel three times during the bye week and three times this past week. 

Manziel still has a shot at winning the Heisman Trophy. The Aggies have one more regular-season game left against Missouri. If Johnny Football goes back to being Johnny Football next week, he could still hoist the hardware in New York City next month.

Credit must be given Miles and his coaching staff. The Tigers know their BCS hopes have been dashed, but the group came together and was focused in all three phrases of the game.

Every defensive player in the postgame interviews raved on how the unit focused on doing their assignment and playing fundamental football. The Tigers also held the Texas A&M offense to season lows in points, rushing yards and receiving yards. 

But LSU's biggest feat was making Manziel look human, something other defenses can only dream about. 


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