COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Managing a team's health is a key for any coach, especially at this point in the season.
As the second half of the season wears on and players' bodies feel the effects of the accumulating snaps, managing practice time for players can be important.
In the case of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who suffered a shoulder injury on Oct. 19 against Auburn but finished the game and played through it on Saturday in a 56-24 win over Vanderbilt, head coach Kevin Sumlin said the star quarterback is pretty good about managing how much he can or can't throw on a given day as he rehabilitates from the injury.
"He's a really mature player when it comes to practice and communication," Sumlin said. "I think last week, I think he thought he was going to practice on Thursday and it was just so sore when he came out and warmed up. He was pretty tentative and backed off."
Manziel threw some on Wednesday and Thursday leading up to the Vanderbilt game but didn't participate in 11-on-11 drills until Friday. Sumlin's fear was that Manziel would practice for the first time on Friday and feel soreness on game day. That was exactly how it played out with Manziel feeling soreness when he woke up the day of the game and it drew concern, but once he participated in warm-ups, he felt like he was ready to go.
"You wake up at 7 o'clock in the morning and the quarterback says his shoulder hurts, it's not a good deal," Sumlin said jokingly.
Manziel wound up playing and playing well, finishing 25 of 35 passing for 305 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception. This week, he and the coaching staff have been smart about monitoring how much he does but neither party anticipates a problem when the Aggies host UTEP at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
"I think it says a lot about him and his approach," Sumlin said of Manziel's handling of the situation. "We'll communicate during the week like we do all the time but I don't anticipate [any problems]. Sunday he said he was feeling OK. [Monday] he threw a few balls, so I don't anticipate it being a problem this week."
There are a couple others who are uncertain for Saturday's game. Starting right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who missed last Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, could play but also could sit out. If he does not play, Sumlin said it would be more of a "precautionary" measure and Ogbuehi would almost certainly return to play the following week vs. Mississippi State.
Defensive tackle Alonzo Williams, who missed last week's game with an apparent lower leg injury is a "maybe" according to Sumlin. Both the offensive line and defensive line performed admirably in Ogbuehi's and Williams' respective absences. With a 1-6 UTEP team coming to town, the Aggies could still afford to allow both to sit, should the coaching staff choose to go that direction.