Manziel, Aggies Primed For Texas-Sized Let-Down
The talk has been there ever since Texas A&M upset Alabama last year. Johnny Manziel is the defending Heisman Trophy winner and the Aggies are primed to make a run at the SEC title.
However, as ESPN's Lee Corso likes to say, "Not so fast my friend."
Can we really believe that Manziel can duplicate his efforts from a year ago against a league that knows how to make adjustments? Looking at the Aggies' schedule, who they lost, and Manziel's reported party-boy lifestyle, it's hard to see the Aggies repeating what they did last year.
Texas A&M gets the luxury of only having to play four games on the road this year. The Aggies start the season with four home games before road games at Arkansas and Ole Miss. Then they enjoy four more home games before finishing at LSU and Missouri.
Seems like a decent schedule, right? During those first four home games, the Aggies have Rice and Sam Houston State come to town before Alabama pays a visit Sept. 14 hell-bent on revenge. Texas A&M may not have much to worry about in the first two games, but they have two games to open the season, while Alabama has an open date the week before. There is an advantage later in the season when the Aggies have an open date the week before traveling to LSU, but that will be another tough game despite that luck.
The Aggies lost a decent amount of talent from last year's 11-2 team. Gone are receviers Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu (Nos. 2 and 4 in receiving last year), starting left tackle Luke Joeckel and starting center Patrick Lewis. That's a lot for a quarterback who often relies on his legs. Will Manziel get the kind of protection in 2013 that he did in 2012? There are receivers who are coming in to replace those lost, but do they have enough experience and poise to make a difference in the SEC right away? There are a lot of questions the Aggies are going to have to answer in SEC play. And, they're not going to get to see any decent competition before Alabama comes to town.
Manziel's Party-Boy Lifestyle
The main question has to be Manziel's focus. Ever since he's won the Heisman, he's reportedly been anywhere and everywhere you can think of, partying it up like there's no tomorrow.
Before people start to question if it's legal for Manziel to drink, the answer is yes (according to Texas law). However, I think his head has gotten too big and he's forgetting what his job is as the Texas A&M quarterback. While he has been out and about, guys like A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray have been in the film room studying, working to get better. Manziel on the other hand, not so much.
Multiple stories have come out about his drinking, which is all legal, but at some point it's going to catch up with him. If not now, then it will in the NFL when that kind of behavior won't fly.
Any way you look at it, Manziel and the Aggies have three things going against them this season. If they want to win an SEC title and overcome the things going against them (loss of players, Alabama early on), Manziel would be best served focusing. In a league where minor mistakes cost you games (as we saw against Florida and LSU), Manziel isn't showing that he's committed to winning an SEC title.
Then again, is head coach Kevin Sumlin showing his commitment, either? If he was, he would have reeled in his quarterback by now.