Texas A&M Aggies: NCF

Johnny Football: Better in 2012 or 2013?

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
8:57
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Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesJohnny Manziel has been a better downfield passer in 2013.
Johnny Manziel became the first freshman (redshirt) to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012, leading Texas A&M to an 11-2 record.

His signature moment came when he led the Aggies to an upset victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

So far in 2013, Manziel is second in ESPN’s latest Heisman Watch. Despite losing to Alabama this time around, Manziel has the Aggies at 5-1 and ranked seventh in the latest AP Poll.

Let’s dive into the numbers and compare Manziel in 2012 to the 2013 version of Johnny Football.

Rushing
One could say that Johnny Football "ran away" with the Heisman in 2012, as he led all SEC players with 1,410 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns.

Manziel also led the SEC in rushing yards per attempt (7.0) and rushes of 20 or more yards (22). He was one of five FBS quarterbacks to average over 100 yards per game on the ground.

So far this season, the production hasn't been at the same level, as Manziel is averaging four fewer rush attempts and 35 less rushing yards per game than he did a year ago. If he plays 13 games this season, he would run for just 11 touchdowns based on his current pace.

Advantage: 2012

Downfield Passing
Big plays and precise downfield passing have been trademarks of Johnny Football in 2013.

His 32 completions of at least 20 yards ranks fifth among FBS quarterbacks this season. He was seventh among FBS quarterbacks with 54 such completions a year ago.

Manziel is completing 64 percent of his passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield in 2013. Last week against Ole Miss, Manziel went five-of-six on such pass attempts, his highest career single-game completion percentage on such throws. In 2012, Manziel completed only 41 percent of such pass attempts.

Advantage: 2013

Making plays outside the pocket
Johnny Football burst onto the scene in 2012 partly due to his playmaking outside the pocket and on scrambles.
SportsNation

Which version of Johnny Manziel is the better QB?

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    23%
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    77%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,807)


Manziel led all BCS AQ quarterbacks with 805 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on scrambles last season. He was one of only two players from BCS AQ schools to have more than two touchdowns on scrambles for the season. Manziel is first among AQ quarterbacks in yards (316) and touchdowns (3) on scrambles once again in 2013, but is on pace to fall short of his numbers from a year ago.

On throws outside the pocket, Manziel had a 62.8 completion percentage and averaged 9.5 yards per attempt in 2012. In 2013 on such throws, those numbers are down to a 54.8 completion percentage and 7.7 yards per attempt.

Advantage: 2012

Third-down Passing
Johnny Football has been at his best on third down this season, posting a FBS-high 99.6 Total QBR.

Texas A&M is converting 63.3 percent of third down passing plays with Manziel at quarterback in 2013, the best rate in the FBS. Manziel is averaging 14.7 yards per attempt and completing 81.5 percent of his passes on third down, both second among qualified FBS quarterbacks.

Manziel also led FBS quarterbacks in third-down Total QBR (98.5) last season, and the Aggies converted on passing plays a FBS-high 51.7 percent of the time. Manziel ranked third among qualified quarterbacks in yards per attempt (9.8) and completion percentage (67.9%) on third down in 2012.

The difference so far in 2013 is that Manziel has not committed a turnover on third down, after throwing five interceptions in those situations a year ago.

Advantage: 2013

Conclusion
Manziel might not be as flashy with his legs in 2013 as he was in 2012, but his passing has improved.

When looking at ESPN’s new metric, opponent-adjusted QBR, Manziel had a slightly higher rating in 2012 (90.5) than so far in in 2013 (88.3).

So after looking at the numbers, which version of Johnny Football do you think is better? Vote and share your thoughts in the comments.

ESPN.com's Preseason All-America team

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
12:45
PM ET


The All-American wealth has spread across the land. The Pac-12 leads the conferences with seven, one more than the SEC. Dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota and RB Lache Seastrunk both originally signed with Oregon. Now that Seastrunk plays for Baylor, he and Mariota no longer have to share a backfield. Seastrunk and G Cyril Richardson make the Bears the only team with two on offense. Richardson is surely the first All-American named Cyril, but Lache is not the first body of water to make it. He joins 1939 Heisman winner Nile Kinnick.

Alabama has won three of the past four BCS titles with defense and placed LB C.J. Mosley and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on this team. Alabama and Oregon lead with three players apiece on the list. That's one more than the Big Ten and two more than the ACC and Conference USA. -- Ivan Maisel

View ESPN.com's 2013 Preseason All-America team here.

Links: Farewell to the BCS

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
2:00
PM ET


This is the last year of the BCS, and our writers look at its impact on college football:

From Ivan Maisel: The BCS has moved NCAA football forward in a way no system before it could and given it a national stage, but along with exposure comes greater pressure and expectations, which in the end the series couldn't overcome.

From Mark Schlabach: As we prepare for the final season of the BCS, let's take a look back at its highs and lows.

From Brian Bennett: Five of the last seven national champions have had at least one loss, and with a playoff looming, going undefeated will be harder than ever.
Tags:

SEC, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12, NCF

How Manziel can duplicate 2012 in 2013

June, 26, 2013
6/26/13
3:00
PM ET

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 Cotton Bowl stats you need to know

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
2:45
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AP PhotoLandry Jones and Johnny Manziel have their teams poised for a Cotton Bowl win.
The Cotton Bowl kicks off at 8 ET on Friday night as the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies face the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners. These former Big 12 rivals are meeting for the 17th straight season. Oklahoma has owned the series of late, winning 11 of the last 13 matchups since 1999.

Here are nine more stats you need to know to get ready for this game:

Going Streaking
The Sooners are looking for their first four-game bowl win streak since 1978-81, which would tie the school record for consecutive bowl wins. The Aggies are looking to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since a three-game streak spanning 1978-85.

Been Here, Done That
Texas A&M is no stranger to the Cotton Bowl. The Aggies are making their 13th appearance in this bowl, posting a 4-8 record in the previous 12. A&M has lost its last six trips to the Cotton Bowl. Its last win came in the 1987 season over Notre Dame.

What Heisman Curse?
Johnny Manziel plays his first game since winning the Heisman Trophy. The last three Heisman winners to play in a bowl game each won the game (Mark Ingram in 2009, Cam Newton in 2010 and Robert Griffin III in 2011).

Scrambling Man
Manziel has gained 784 of his 1,181 rush yards on scrambles. That's 18 more yards scrambling than Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota and Collin Klein have combined this season.

Big-Play Johnny Football
Manziel has 70 plays that gained at least 20 yards this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the third-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.

Manziel Record Watch
Manziel is one rushing touchdown away from becoming only the fourth player with 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns in a season in FBS history. Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, and Colin Kaepernick are the others.

Jones Record Watch
Landry Jones can become the second player in college football history to start and win four bowl games as a quarterback. He would join West Virginia’s Pat White, who accomplished the feat from 2005-08.

Jones Cool Under Pressure
Jones has excelled when facing the blitz this season, throwing eight touchdowns and only one interception when facing five or more pass rushers. Jones has been at his best in the last three games, completing 77.1 percent against the blitz with four touchdowns and no picks.

Sooner History
Oklahoma has 27 major bowl wins, tied with Georgia and Texas for the third-most all-time behind USC (31) and Alabama (33). However, just one of those wins has come in the Cotton Bowl – a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the 2001 season.

Manziel the best scrambler in the business

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
3:00
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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.

Watch: College Football Final (Week 2)

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
9:34
AM ET
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Jim Basquil and the ESPN.com College Football team deliver the highlights, analysis, and interviews from an exciting Week 2 of College Football.

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