Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Grading the positions: Quarterbacks
By Sam Khan Jr.
In the weeks leading up to Texas A&M's bowl game, GigEmNation will take a look back at how the Aggies performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we begin with quarterback.
Highlights: Two words -- Johnny Football. Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel provided more highlights than probably even the most optimistic Aggie could have imagined, breaking Cam Newton's single-season SEC total yardage record with a 4,600-yard year. Manziel threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 68.3 percent of his passes. He ran for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, giving him 43 scores for the year. Backup quarterback Jameill Showers proved capable of moving the offense when he played his limited minutes, completing 61.4 percent of his passes (27-of-44) for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Third-stringer Matt Joeckel saw only a handful of series this year, making 11 pass attempts.
Lowlights: Manziel was great and is Heisman Trophy worthy, but he wasn't perfect. The roughest game of the year came at home against LSU, when the Tigers held him to a season-low 27 rushing yards. He was picked off three times (though not all three were his fault) and had no touchdown passes. He also had a rough go at Mississippi, turning it over three times, but regrouped to lead a comeback from a double-digit deficit. Showers' only rough showing was against South Carolina State when he was 2-of-10 passing with one interception, but in his other six outings the redshirt sophomore performed well.
Surprises: The biggest surprise was simply that Manziel was this good, this fast. He wasn't named the starter until roughly two weeks before the originally scheduled first game of the season (and some might say that was a bit of a surprise, as Showers appeared to be the favorite going into camp), but Manziel has performed better than anyone expected. It's tough to say anyone saw him breaking the records he has and leading the Aggies to a road upset of then-No. 1 Alabama.
Grade: A. There's no doubt, the quarterbacks aced the season. Manziel could win the Heisman Trophy and become the first freshman to have that distinction.