With all the criticism surrounding redshirt sophomore QB and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel this offseason, it was fair to wonder if he’d be able to follow up on his rookie performance even in the early portion of the season where Texas A&M had cupcakes coming into town in Rice and Sam Houston State. But sadly for the people who love to hate Manziel, the young man has answered the call, even if he didn’t want to wake up for the end of the Manning Passing Academy.
This is absolutely encouraging to me, because I’ve been one of the more critical analysts of Manziel’s off-field antics this offseason. I just can’t imagine why you’d want to continually put yourself in the spotlight for dumb reasons, but Manziel claims to be acting his age.
That’s fine, I understand that mindset.
The good news for Manziel is, he looks like he’s put in a ton of work off the field to improve his overall craft as a quarterback. Last year, Manziel was quick to run and utilized his ability to create to make the passing game go. Through his first six quarters of the 2013 season, it’s clear to see that Manziel has improved drastically as a pocket passer.
Of course the real test will come in week three when A&M takes on national powerhouse Alabama, a game that Manziel was nearly flawless in last season on the way to the biggest win of his career.
I think Manziel looks like a top 32 pick right now. He’s got the ability to run and make plays with his legs, but the improvements he appears to have made as a passer are pretty obvious and eye-catching. Here’s what my pal Erik Lambert had to say about Manziel in his latest college football stock report:
Frustrating as it might be for haters, Johnny Manziel continues to defy the notion that he will fold to any outside pressures about his behavior. In a tuneup game for the Alabama grudge match next week, Manziel rode great protection and a bad Sam Houston St. defense to 403 passing yards and four total touchdowns. The Aggies scored 65 points and appear ready to once again take down the Crimson Tide defense.
I have separate reservations about the Aggies’ defense, but certainly if Manziel can will them to win once, he can do it again. To this point, Manziel has been at least as good as he was over the course of last sesaon when he won the Heisman Trophy, completing over 69 percent of his passes with 497 yards, six touchdowns, and just one interception and two sacks in 49 dropbacks.
Manziel’s performance through the first two games of the season has been stellar, even though he acted like a fool in week one. I’m sure some NFL teams have some reservations about his cocky-ness or over-confidence, but it hasn’t appeared to affect him on the field whatsoever. Manziel hasn’t been in trouble with the law to my knowledge, nor has he failed any drug tests.
I think if he can keep a level head, he’ll be able to hang tough with Alabama and contend once again for the Heisman Trophy. One thing we haven’t really seen from Manziel is a huge letdown game. He has just been so efficient.
If he keeps this kind of play up, he’ll be able to leave College Station after just two seasons and probably be a first round draft pick.