Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be the most talented player LSU’s defense has faced all season. For the Tigers to win this Saturday, they must keep Manziel from going wild.
How do you stop Manziel? No team has stopped him, Florida did a decent job of containing him, but Johnny Football as he is known has improved significantly since that game.
After the opening loss to Florida, Manziel has averaged 424.6 total yards of offense and has scored 23 total touchdowns. He set the SEC record for total offense against Arkansas, and then broke it last week when he put up 576 yards (395 passing/181 rushing) on Louisiana Tech.
Manziel is third in the SEC in passing with 1,680 yards and has 14 touchdowns to three interceptions. He also leads the SEC in rushing (676) and is tied for the league lead with 10 rushing touchdowns.
LSU’s strength on defense is it’s speed especially from the edge with Keke Mingo and Sonic Sam Montgomery. The danger is if Mingo and Montgomery pressure Manziel, they leave open running lanes.
This could play right into Manziel’s hands.
More than 70 percent of Manziel’s rushing yards (475) have come on scrambles. That’s 90 more scrambling yards than Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller and Collin Klein combined. Manziel leads the SEC in rushing touchdowns (seven), 20-plus yard rushes (nine) and rushing yards per game (79.1) when scrambling.
LSU coach Les Miles said he’d like to get at least two guys to “keep a wary eye” on Manziel Saturday, but Tiger LB Kevin Minter said the Tigers will definitely have to spy to contain him.
“You got to. You gotta have somebody there to keep an eye on him,” he said. “If not, he’ll bust one for 70 [yards] real fast.”
Keeping Manziel in the pocket is one thing, stopping him from completing passes is another. The A&M QB has shown steady improvement in the passing game and has some very capable receivers including Ryan Swope (his go-to-guy).
Manziel is starting to generate some Heisman trophy buzz and a strong showing against the vaunted Tiger defense could shoot him to the top of the race.
Or to paraphrase what Les Miles said after the South Carolina game, this is where Manziel’s Heisman dreams came to die.