Texas A&M Aggies: ESPN Stats & Info

How Manziel can duplicate 2012 in 2013

June, 26, 2013
6/26/13
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Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJohnny Manziel looks to repeat his 2012 Heisman-winning campaign this season.
The 2013 college football season has the potential to showcase one of the greatest quarterback classes ever. Eight of the top 10 teams in last year’s final AP Poll return their starting quarterbacks, and every conference except the Big 12 returns either their first- or second-team quarterbacks from last season.

In preparation for the 2013 season, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top QBs entering the fall. The list is built off of Phil Steele’s list of top quarterback units. On Wednesday, we look at the top returning quarterback, Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel.

A Look Back at 2012

Manziel took the CFB world by storm last season, becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel set the SEC record for total yards in a season while accounting for more than 70 percent of the Texas A&M Aggies' total yards. He also had seven games with at least two pass and two rush touchdowns, the most by any player in one season since 2000.

Manziel had an uncanny ability to make plays happen when things broke down. He scrambled for 857 yards and 38 first downs on 86 scramble attempts, including an FBS-high 22 first downs on third down.

In terms of passing, Manziel completed 68 percent of his passes, which ranked ninth in FBS. He put his receivers in positions to run after the catch, which is why Texas A&M ranked sixth among colleges in AQ conferences in yards after the catch.

All of these factors resulted in Manziel ranking first last season in ESPN’s new Total QBR metric, which will be unveiled for college football this fall.

What’s Ahead for 2013?

The biggest question for Manziel heading into the 2013 CFB season is whether he can repeat his performance from a year ago. Recent history has proven that some of the top freshman quarterbacks have been able to repeat their successes even after the spotlight has been shined upon them.

Since 2006, there have been four quarterbacks who ranked in the top 10 in non-clutch weighted Total QBR during their freshman seasons –- Andrew Luck, Terrelle Pryor, Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick. Luck and Bradford went on to lead the nation in Total QBR in their sophomore seasons, and all four players ranked in the top 12 in QBR again before leaving for the NFL.

Pryor, in particular, can be used as a model to show that players can replicate strong scrambling seasons. After scrambling for 357 yards in 2009, Pryor went on to scramble for 356 yards and average 9.9 yards per scramble in 2010.

One area in which Manziel can improve heading into next season is his downfield accuracy. He completed less than 42 percent of his passes thrown more than 15 yards downfield, which ranked 40th out of 108 qualified BCS-AQ quarterbacks.

If Manziel's sessions with “quarterback guru” George Whitfield Jr. can improve his downfield precision, a second Heisman trophy may not be far from his grasp.

10 facts to know about Heisman finalists

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
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US PresswireJohnny Manziel (left), Manti Te’o (center) and Collin Klein are the 2012 Heisman Trophy finalists.

  • Johnny Manziel finished the regular season with 3,419 pass yards and 1,181 rush yards. His 4,600 yards of total offense broke the SEC single-season record set by Cam Newton during his 2010 Heisman Trophy season. When Newton broke the record, he supplanted Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy season of 2007.
  • Manziel has been responsible for 43 touchdowns this season, tied with Tajh Boyd and Jordan Lynch for the most in FBS. He had six games with at least two touchdowns passing and rushing. That's tied with Tebow in 2007 for the most such games in a season since 2000. Collin Klein is tied for second in FBS this season with three such games.
  • Manziel had 70 plays that gained 20 yards or more this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the second-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.
  • Manziel gained 784 rush yards on scrambles, the most in the SEC. He had 13 scrambles that gained at least 20 yards, including seven touchdowns. No SEC player had more total rushes or touchdowns of 20-plus yards, let alone scrambles.
  • Klein has scored a rushing touchdown in 11 straight games, the longest active streak in FBS. The only game that he did not have a rushing touchdown was against Missouri State, an FCS opponent. Since the start of last season, Klein has scored a rush TD in 23 straight games against FBS opponents. That is the longest such streak for any player in the last nine seasons.
  • Since the start of last season, Klein has an FBS-best 37 rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations. Klein has had at least one such touchdown in 22 of 25 games during that time period, including in his last 10 games in which he has at least one such attempt.
  • Klein has accounted for 69 percent of Kansas State’s yards and 66 percent of its offensive touchdowns this season. Klein’s percentages are slightly better than those of Robert Griffin III from his 2011 Heisman season at Baylor. Griffin accounted for 66 percent of Baylor’s total and 61 percent of its touchdowns.
  • Manti Te'o has seven interceptions this season, tied for second-most in FBS and three more than any other linebacker. Te’o also has two fumble recoveries. His nine total takeaways are tied for the most in nation.
  • Te’o has 103 tackles this season, 42 more than any other player on Notre Dame. He has just two missed tackles all season. As a team, the Irish have missed 61 tackles this season, the third-fewest among AQ schools.
  • Notre Dame leads the nation in scoring defense (10.3 PPG) and is the only team that has not given up a touchdown drive longer than 75 yards this season. Every other FBS team has allowed at least three.

Manziel the best scrambler in the business

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
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Scott Halloran, Getty ImagesMissouri found out just how dangerous Johnny Manziel can be when gets outside the pocket.
Johnny Manziel finished his regular season in style, completing 32 of 44 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns in Texas A&M's 59-29 win against Missouri. He also ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns.

Manziel’s 439 yards of total offense in the game pushed his season total to 4,600, breaking the SEC single-season record held by Cam Newton in his 2010 Heisman Trophy season.

When Newton broke the record in 2010, he supplanted Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy season in 2007.

Manziel has been putting up impressive numbers all season. He had three games in which he had at least 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards, the most for any player in a single season since 2000.

The rest of the nation has had eight such games the entire season.

Manziel also has six games with at least two touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns. That's tied with Tebow in 2007 for the most such games in a season since 2000. Collin Klein is second in FBS this season with three such games.

But what makes Manziel the Heisman front-runner has more to do with the style in which he plays than the raw numbers that he is amassing.

Manziel has an uncanny ability to make plays happen when things break down. As Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban told the media earlier this season: “He is very instinctive. He has a unique ability to extend plays and seems to know when to take off and run it.”

Look no further than Manziel’s “Heisman moment” against Alabama when he bobbled the ball then scrambled to his left and threw back across the middle for a 10-yard touchdown to Ryan Swope.

This season, Manziel has completed 60 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns when scrambling out of the pocket.

To put that into perspective, fellow SEC quarterbacks AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw have four passing touchdowns combined when forced out of the pocket and are completing just over 40 percent of their passes in those situations.

Against Missouri on Saturday, Manziel completed 10 of 12 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns when forced out of the pocket, including 5 of 6 passes on third down.

Manziel also makes plays with his legs when forced to improvise. He has gained 784 of his SEC-leading 1,181 rush yards on scrambles.

That's 43 more yards scrambling than Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota and Klein have combined. Manziel has scrambled for 35 first downs this season, including 20 first downs on third down.

On third down, Manziel has converted 50 percent of his running or passing attempts. As a result, Texas A&M leads FBS with a 55 percent third-down conversion rate.

In the Aggies’ win against Alabama, Manziel converted 9 of 13 third down chances (69 percent), which was the highest conversion percentage for a quarterback against Alabama in the last nine seasons.

Whether Johnny Football wins the Heisman is yet to be determined, but it is safe to say that he has scrambled his way to a freshman season to remember.

What is most impressive may not be the records that he has broken, but the style in which he has broken the records, something that is unlike anything that the SEC has ever seen before.

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