Johnny Manziel put on a show in College Station last Saturday, accounting for more than 550 yards of offense and five touchdowns in a 49-42 loss to Alabama. While Manziel is special – hey, he’s the only freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy for a reason – is Alabama’s defense simply not as good as it’s been in years past?
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” CBS Sports Network college football analyst Tom Bradley said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “I think with Johnny Manziel, he’s spectacular. The way he plays will drive the Alabama defense crazy. A guy that can move around like he does, the plays that he can make – a mobile quarterback is going to give them some problems. I think that’s the one thing that will bother them.”
Manziel rushed 14 times for 98 yards last weekend and extended several passing plays with his legs. He finished 28-of-39 for a whopping 464 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“I think that one of the things with Coach (Nick) Saban is he’s known for his great secondary play,” Bradley said. “He’s a coach who coaches the secondary himself and spends a lot of time there, and I think he’ll get a lot of that rectified.”
He’ll need to. The Aggies had 628 yards of total offense, and Manziel led four scoring drives in the second half, including three in the fourth quarter alone. His 562 total yards were the second most in SEC history, just behind the 576 he had last year against Louisiana Tech.
The 42 points, meanwhile, were the most Alabama has allowed since giving up 51 to Tennessee in October 2003. The 42 points were also the most ever allowed by a No. 1 team in a road win.
To be fair, Alabama’s defense recorded two interceptions, and both were absolute game-changers. The first came in the end zone and prevented the Aggies from going up by a touchdown, and the other was picked off by Vinnie Sunseri and returned 73 yards to the house to make it 35-14 early in the second half.
Without those plays – defensive plays – Alabama probably doesn’t win.
Still, to give up 42 points to an offense that was on the field for fewer than 25 minutes is disconcerting, especially if Alabama advances to the national championship and faces Oregon, Ohio State or Clemson – teams with mobile quarterbacks.
‘If there’s a blueprint for scoring points on them, it is with an offense that has a quarterback (like) Johnny Manziel – and not many do,” Bradley said. “But that type of quarterback that moves around and does the things he can do is going to cause some problems for Alabama.”