Texas A&M Aggies: Christine Martin
October, 2, 2012
By Sam Khan Jr. | ESPN.com
Getty Images, Icon SMITexas A&M, led by first-year quarterback Johnny Manziel and coach Kevin Sumlin, is 3-1 on the season.COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- In many areas, Texas A&M has shown improvement from its first game to its most recent one.
One can point to something as specific as penalties, as the Aggies committed nine in each of their first two games but have reduced that number to five combined in their last two games. Or something as abstract as quarterback Johnny Manziel's ability to make throws from the pocket, or the Aggies' ability to close out games -- two more areas where there has been significant improvement from Sept. 8 to now.
Most signs indicate an improving Aggies squad. Now that they're coming off a 48-point win over a Southeastern Conference foe -- even if it was against struggling Arkansas -- it's worth asking: How good can the Aggies be?
"I don't know," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We've got to continue to improve. If we continue to make steps, as I talked to our team about, it's not about our opponent, it's about us. We try to deal with ourselves every Monday and how we can get better and how we can eliminate mistakes and keep our effort level high and become a smarter team."
Playing smart has been a strength for this A&M squad so far. Not only have the Aggies significantly reduced their penalty count, they also have committed just one turnover all season. Manziel, a redshirt freshman who has only four starts to his name, hasn't committed one yet.
Manziel, who has been called "Johnny Football," among other nicknames, has seen his improvement parallel the team's. He struggled some in the second half of the Aggies' season-opening loss to Florida, and the offense as a whole appeared to stall.
Since then, the Aggies have produced points and yards at a high rate, averaging 58.6 points per game in their last three outings and 589.6 yards per game in that same span. Granted, their opponents haven't been as difficult as Florida, a team that's now 4-0 and ranked 11th in the country, but the offense -- and Manziel -- have shown progress nonetheless.
Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury feels Manziel has plenty of room to improve just four starts into his career.
Sumlin sees similarities with LSU
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