C-USA Gets Second Dose Of Johnny Football
By Dan Harralson
Conference USA will get its second dose of Johnny Football on Saturday when UTEP travels to College Station.
The tables have turned significantly since opening weekend when uncertainty about Johnny Manziel's status lingered. Autograph Gate is now over and it has been all football for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner (unless you believe ESPN).
Manziel has put up impressive numbers once again, but he does have an unexpected loss to counter his stats. Auburn pulled off a win in College Station and now A&M is essentially playing for bowl seeding, plus Manziel's pursuit of back-to-back Heisman Trophies.
It all started for Johnny Football after the first-half suspension against Rice. It was a 28-21 game when Johnny took over and ended in a 52-31 victory. Manziel will need help from other Heisman favorites to lose down the stretch while he continues to produce stats.
He'll have a chance to rack up more numbers this weekend.
Is Manziel Better This Year?
Manziel currently is fifth overall in passing yards this season with 2,594. A&M also checks in fifth overall in passing offense.
Manziel is becoming a more efficient passer this year. Last year he completed 68 percent of his passes compared to 73 percent this season.
Johnny is more accurate throwing the deep ball this year and is averaging 10.3 yards per attempt compared to 8.5 yards per pass in 2012.
The most defining improvement in Manziel's game is touchdowns through the air. He has 22 passing TDs in eight outings and can match last season's total with just one per game the rest of the way. He attempted 182 more passes last season, so his numbers project better across the map.
Manziel's improved passing game has allowed him to be more selective running the ball. Although he does move around almost every play, Johnny Football is using his legs to see downfield more often. He's almost cut his rushing attempts in half.
What A&M Should Expect From UTEP
Sean Kugler is 1-6 overall in his first season at the helm of UTEP.
At this point the Miners are not going bowling and are essentially playing for the future.
Kugler's team is giving up 219 yards through the air on average, something Kevin Sumlin will look to exploit Saturday. UTEP quarterback and Texas A&M transfer Jameill Showers has been ruled out for the game. Showers will not get to play against his former team due to separating his shoulder against Rice.
"(He) will be out for an extended period of time," Kugler said. "I hope he'll come back (this season) but I don't think that's the case right now."