Sunday, November 24, 2013
What we learned: Week 13
By Sam Khan Jr.
Three takeaways from Texas A&M's 34-10 loss to LSU on Saturday:
LSU simply has Johnny Football's number: Regardless of his Heisman Trophy hopes, Johnny Manziel is considered by many to be the best player in college football. Well, even the best have a bad day and Manziel for the second straight season could not solve LSU's defense. He didn't have a ton of help (several facets of the offense struggled) but sometimes Manziel just finds a way to will the Aggies downfield. Not so against the Tigers. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis had a great game plan once again and the Tigers executed it well. Manziel finished with just 224 passing yards and a touchdown, while throwing two interceptions and completing just 16-of-41 pass attempts. Against LSU, Manziel's Total QBR is 21.5 in two games. Against everyone else in his career, it's 86.4. In two games against the Tigers, Manziel has thrown one touchdown and five interceptions.
Run defense is still an issue: With a few exceptions throughout the day, LSU ran the ball virtually at will. The Tigers steamrolled to 324 rushing yards, marking the fourth time the Aggies have allowed 299 or more yards on the ground to an opponent. And it wasn't even sophomore Jeremy Hill, the Tigers' star back, doing most of the work. It was junior Terrence McGee who had the biggest day, racking up 149 yards on 13 carries (a whopping 11.5 yards per tote).
The pass protection needs improvement: Texas A&M had one of the country's best offensive lines a year ago and with three returning starters, it was thought they would again. This unit has shined a lot in giving Manziel time, but it isn't quite what last year's was and that has showed on a couple occasions against Top 25 teams. On Saturday, LSU got six quarterback hurries and sacked Manziel twice (though at least one appeared to be a coverage sack). But when the Tigers needed to get pressure, for instance, on a fourth-and-goal at the LSU 3 in the second quarter, they pressured Manziel up the middle, forced him to retreat and make an off-target throw. And blitz pickups aren't just on the offensive line, running backs are responsible for that too.