I believe in Johnny Football

Every now and then a player comes along that changes the ever evolving game of football.

Especially at the college level, a player can emerge at quarterback in the right system and take over the game. In the late 90’s it was Michael Vick. At the turn of the century it was Matt Leinart/Carson Palmer. Midway through last decade it was Tim Tebow. For a flash in the pan it was Cam Newton.

And now, college football has another darling: Johnny Manziel…aka, Johnny Football.

Drawing comparisons to Doug Flutie from the 80’s (another QB gamechanger), Manziel has shattered a plethora of quarterback records in this his freshman…freshman…season at Texas A&M.

Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium, Manziel shattered the minds of thousands of Bama fans as for a quarter he held the entire stadium hostage. The damage the fleet-footed mini-mite QB would do in the first quarter would be enough to get out of Tuscaloosa with the win.

I admit, I was skeptical. We had seen Manziel do amazing things against the likes of Auburn, Ole Miss, Missy State and Arkansas. But in the biggest test of his life, Manziel passed with flying colors.

To be perfectly honest, Manziel and the Aggies caught Alabama at the absolute perfect time. Dead-legged and fresh off a physically and mentally exhausting win in Baton Rouge, Alabama limped into the game. Every team on the Tide’s schedule circles ‘Bama week as their BCS bowl game. But for the Aggies, it was something more.

This was their inaugural shot at the SEC’s bell cow, and it was time to throw the book at Bama. As Jackie Sherrill said on the Finebaum show last week, a team can only get “up” for a handful of ballgames every year (Sherrill said “three”). No doubt Bama used up their allotment before Saturday. The Aggies, not so much.

As some pointed out, it’s almost impossible in practice to simulate the speed of Manziel and the tempo the Aggies inject into a game. The Bama defense eventually succeeded in stopping the bleeding, holding the high flying Aggies to just nine points the rest of the way.

But by then it was too late. A beat up Bama offense could not stand prosperity, again turning the ball over when in scoring position, and settling for a field goal when a touchdown was the only remedy.

The first time Bama faced Tim Tebow, the spread offense (or at least Urban Myer’s version) riddled the Tide in the 4th quarter of the 2008 SEC Championship game. The second time Nick Saban’s defense faced it, having a year to study and prepare, Alabama shut it down like a dirty massage parlor.

Had Cam Newton come back for another year, my prediction is you would’ve seen more teams able to do the same (see his 2nd year in the NFL vs. his first).

Good defensive coaches find a way, and there are plenty of good ones in this league. Manziel will present a challenge for at least one more season before becoming eligible for the NFL, and not every team will be capable. But as Bama dialed up through much of the final three quarters, Johnny Football can be contained.

Still, a red-hot Aggie team deserves all the credit. They dictated the intensity of the game leading the defending National Champs to play from behind the entire game. Were it not for a puzzling offensive play sequence with first and goal from the Aggie six, Bama’s second comeback in as many weeks would have worked (why didn’t they line up and pound out six yards in four plays for the win??).

Nevertheless, joining my Missy State brethren, I too believe…in Johnny Football. At least until next season.

Amazingly, Bama still controls its own fate. At #4 in the BCS, all the Tide must do is win out (taking the SEC crown) and get help with two of the three teams in front of them to get to Miami.

It’s a long shot. But so was last season. The undefeated three’s dates with #15 Texas, #13 Stanford, #16 Oregan State and #18 USC has much to say about where Bama will be in January. Plus the Tide is the only one of the lot that will face a top five opponent from here on out, given that Georgia can get past Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, respectively.

But what isn’t up for debate is that Johnny Manziel and that chaotic A&M offense is a handful for the SEC, making an already tough league that much tougher.

(Follow me on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)


Add Yours
  1. 1

    They scored the 2nd TD just before the end of the 1st half with 2 gives to Lacy from the 7 yard line. No way A&M stops him on 4 carries behind Warmack and Cyrus from the 6.

    • 2

      I agree. 1st and goal from the 6…which is a 16-yard field with 22 bodies in it…and you pass?? Pound it four times and the game’s over. A&M had done a good job slowing the run all night, but no way they stop it four times straight, running right at them.

      • 3
        The Conduit

        I don’t mind the play call. If AJ throws it to where only the receiver can get it, the game is over.

        Instead, he threw it the only place the receiver could NOT get it. If no defender was near that side of the field it’s still game over. Instead, there was a TAMU player there wrapping a bow around the football before he caught it.

  2. 4
    The Truth

    Hey ITK in 2007 when some of the top teams lost on the final weekend of college football lost, you and some of the gumps said LSU backed into the BCS championship.

    If on the last week of college football this year two of the current top team lose and bama get back to the BCS championship game, will you be consistent and say bama backed into the championship game?

    • 5

      LOL, a 2-loss champion is hardly legitimate. Come on, Truth. It’s not hard.

      Man, are you still butt-hurt over the two game losing streak you have to Bama?


      I will concede that the right way to do it is win out…something LSU did in neither 2003 nor 2007. In 2003 LSWho lost to Florida by 12 and in 2007 LSWho lost (amazingly) to Kentucky and Arkansas. Yet both years they won crystal (only one with Les, however).

      So if we win another natty with a loss, you can’t say much.

      • 6
        The Truth

        How is a 2-loss champion not legitimate when every other legitimate contender also had two losses that year? The only ligitmate contender that didn’t have two losses before the championship game was Ohio State and LSU soundly beat them in the championship game giving them two losses also. I didn’t ask you to compare a champion from one year to another. It sounds like your bias doesn’t allow you to be intelectually honest in your response to the question.

        In 2003 lost to Florida early in the year and did win out, so I’m not sure where you were going with your comment that the 2003 team did not win out, other than revealing your bias once again allowed you to not know the facts from that year.

        As for as your comment about the 2007 team not winning out you are correct, but once again neither did any of the other contenders that year, hence the reason LSU was in the championship game, so your arugment would apply to those teams as well.

        And like it or not, Les’s comment that LSU was the only team that year that did not get beat in regulation time under the normal rules of a football game, was brilliant and unarguably correct. Unlike bama and every other team in the country that year, no team could beat LSU that year without spotting them the ball on our 25 yard line in overtime.

        And I’m not but “butt hurt” at all, but you making such a comment in a answer to a legitimate question says a lot about you.

        And I like how you chose the display the two scores from our last two games as it clearly shows that LSU improved by 17 points since that game whereas bama didn’t improve any at all, in fact it could be said that as compared to bama those numbers reflect that LSU’s defense is as good as it was in that January game and its offense is 17 points better, or you could say McCarron and bama’s offense is no better than it was in January and its defense is 17 points worse. You might want to go with the latter based on the way bama’s defense has played in the last two games.

    • 7
      The Conduit

      Why are you even talking about 2007? Manziel was 13 years old in 2007? I don’t understand the point. Off topic, if nothing else. Alabama just lost a football game, but instead of using that to point and laugh you go back to 2007? And you’re talking about LSU instead? Good grief, man.

  3. 8


    You are fucking stupid…LSU LOST 2 GAMES TO UNRANKED TEAMS….IN OT….Dumb ass hayseed Cajun…Call me the ‘N’ word again

    • 9
      The Truth

      RC have you never heard the saying it is better to be thought a fool (or stupid in your case), rather than to open your mouth and remove all doubt? Well if not, it easily applies to you as your comment proves just who is “fucking stupid” and who is the dumb ass here

      Remember it was you who said, in capital letters no less, that “LSU LOST 2 GAMES TO UNRANKED TEAMS”.

      Kentucky was ranked 17th the week before they won that game and ranked 7th the week after.

      So what I will call you is Not very smart.

    • 10
      The Truth

      Oh and by the way RC, Texas A&M was only ranked 15th and had two losses (compared to only one by Kentucky) when they came into tuscalooser Saturday with a FRESHMAN quaterback and beat bama.

      • 11
        The Conduit

        Alabama turned the ball over 3 times on fundamentals mistakes.

        Freshman quaterback? Who cares? You think that’s really the difference? Three turnovers and Carolina Coastal could have beaten Alabama. Tim Tebow, Manziel ain’t. Representing any part of the SEC nationally or in Atlanta, Maniel ain’t.

  4. 12

    If we were to make it in with 2 losses, hell yes I’d say we backed in. How many BCS have been won by a team with 2 losses? The answer is ONE for those of you playing at home. And now the bonus round, how many have even been in the BCS game with two losses?

    • 13
      The Truth

      See comments above Niner.

      And yet you and the rest of the gump nationbrag about 14 national championships which includes a national championship for 1973 when an UNDEFESTED Notre Dame beat Alabama in the last game of that year?!?

      And gumps like you and ITK consider that a legitimate national championship yet question LSU’s 2007 championship which was won on the field in the last game of the year against Ohio State, the team who everybody thought was the best team in the country before that championship game.

      Your stupid comments about two losses is irrelavant as to who was the legit champion for that particular year.

      If next year every team in the country ends up with three losses, but Alabama only has two are you and the rest of the gump nation going to refuse to accept the national chamionship and call it not legitimate and not claim it even though you are voted the best team for that year? Of course you are just like you claim the 1973 questionable 1973 championship by saying “well that was the rules at that time”!

      Your’s and ITK’s comments just prove hypocritical you bama fans are and how intellectually dishonest you are when discussing college football with anyone other than another gump. Hence the nickname “gumps”.

      • 14

        Glad you brought up 2007 Sir Coonsalot. Saban’s 20+ seniors still on Les’ roster won that NC. Les has been irrelevant ever since.

        • 15
          The Truth

          LMAO bino, that was he same 20 players along with 65 others that were recurited and coached by Saban that went 9-3 and lost to Iowa in the Capital One Bowl!

          After three years of coaching by Milies he turned those 20 players from Capital Bowll losers into BCS Champions!

      • 16

        BCS championships are under a different system or have you not noticed that. We have been screwed out of a few NCs under that old system too. Now when this new 4 team playoff deal starts and a team gets in there with 2 or even 3 losses and goes on to win. Then you can stamp that deal LEGIT all day. And honestly, I’m just screwing with you, you guys did back into that game. But come game time your guys strapped it on and got it done. Take the crystal home and be proud. I defended LSU in that, but now I have to listen to all you corndogs talk about how we shouldn’t be in the game if ND and K St lose? Talk about intellectually dishonest.

  5. 17
    Hate Smurf Coach

    I think it is also fair to say Johnny Manzeil will get better, as he still hasn’t learned all of the offensive plays. I wouldn’t count on facing a worse Qback.

    • 18

      I didn’t say he’d be worse, but an offseason is a long time for defensive minded coaches to study a player. Again, I give you the 2012 epic failure, Cam Newton (the former Rookie of the Year).

      The only thing Johnny M. can do differently next year from this year is fly. Too much stock is put into “not learning all the plays”. We’re at game 10 of the 2012 season. I think he’s got it.

  6. 19


    You stupid fucking Cornhole. Michigan was ranked #7 when Bama beat them in the 1st game this year. It matters where they finish AT THE END, stupid. Plus, A&M has ALWAYS been a more traditional football school than Kentucky, you butthurt RACIST. LSU lost at home in 3 OT TO HOUSTON NUTT. LSU did NOT deserve to be in the Title game. That was the worst year in college football history. No real champion

  7. 20
    Crimsonite y

    Notre Dame got their Natty trophy from the AP who awarded after the Bowl games. Bama got their Natty trophy from UPI who aearded before Bowl games as it had been done for many years. You think we’re going to packsge up the trophy and send it back. There was at least 2 reasons why the Natty was awarded before the Bowls. Because of Bowl tie ins with conference champions it was rare to have the two best teams available to play each other. The nowls were not originally intended to choose a national champion. They were entertainment and a reward for a job well done and some teams responded differently than others after a 6 week layoff. The team that won the Bowl may not have won if they played during the season. We are hardly the only school who claims Nattys of this type. See USC in 2003. You should be familiar with a split Natty. You and the other homers can bitch all you want, but UPI was a legitimate poll in ’73, not some fly by night magazine. We have the trophy to prove it. You are just a butt hurt homer. RTR!

    • 21
      The Truth

      I wasn’t bitching about your “legitmate” 73 NC claim Crimsonite, I was using it to point out the hypocrisy of ITK’s statement that LSU’s 2007 NC was “hardly legitimate” because of our two losses. We were made it to the BCS Championship game, won it and was awarded the NC for that year based on the rules that were in place at that time, JUST like you were awarded the 73 NC based on the rules in place at that time. Right? So I’m glad you agree with me that ITK is just another gump hypocrit.

  8. 22
    # 1 al. fan

    O.K. ITK, this Bama loss hurts real bad, why its even on all the news outlets!! its a worldwide event whenever Bama loses Yes it hurts right now but I’m still proud of the guys and you can be assured they will be back!! Now, with all that said, I remember a few months ago when they were announcing that the SEC would expand to 14 teams, I was against it then and still am, but all that is moot now, but I also said by expanding that it would come back to haunt us, and sadly it has, The SEC wasn’t broke back then and still isn’t , I like the saying that says if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!! But that’s just my opinion. RTR!

  9. 23
    The Conduit

    I say 3 turnovers means Bowling Green State University could have beaten Alabama Saturday.

    And the defense gave up 400 yards for the second weekend in a row, which they hadn’t done since two seasons before.

    But I can’t like Manziel.

    Johnny Manziel is a talented player. He can throw with incredible precision. And he is quick enough on his feet to avoid sacks (or safeties as we saw) and extend plays for three times as long as the TAMU play clock is allowed to run before the football is hiked.

    But that doesn’t mean I should like him.

    I wish I could. I wish it was just raw talent and a team sensation like Tim Tebow.

    Manziel is NOT Tim Tebow.

    Manziel is Cam Newton minus 84 pounds.

    Did anyone notice Johnny Manziel put a towel on his head when his team’s defense was on the field? No, that was Cam Newton. Manziel is the one that turns his entire body away from the football field when the defense plays.

    Really? That’s not a leader. That’s not Tim Tebow.

    On one hand you can’t ignore his talent. It carries the entire team. They do not exist without Manziel. Lining up 4 tackles on the sideline and hiking the ball with 21 seconds left on the play clock doesn’t help TAMU without Manziel.

    So if Johnny football hurts even his pinky finger, TAMU drowns. God forbid something worse happens to him. If he even gets a pimple TAMU struggles.

    But at least he praises God when things go his way. It’s just half his team he turns his back on…?

    Talent like Manziel and Newton is incredibly rare, and in the BCS era it is also almost enough for a title. But it’s never enough on its own. Cam Newton was the x-factor for Auburn in 2010 like Manziel is for TAMU, but just having a dynamic quaterback who can make and extend plays isn’t enough. It always comes with a hurry-up offense, trickery at the line of scrimmage, artificial formations, and magic tricks. The best quarterback simply isn’t enough. David Copperfield, Cris Angel, and David Blaine belong on TAMU’s offense. The art of deception isn’t enough to have continued success, but it is enough to make more people consider it. I’m glad Alabama has enough identity that we don’t have to worry about ever looking like TAMU.

    Take away a single turnover and Alabama wins. Give Alabama a single turnover and they’re Miami-bound. It’s not an excuse, they still lost. Any team can make fundamentals mistakes, but Alabama made too many of them two weekends in a row. I could argue about the schedule (and I’d trade ours for A&M’s every time, especially leading up to that game and playing 4 top 15 teams including 3 on the road), but when you turn the ball over three times on fundamentals mistakes (meaning they were Alabama’s mistakes to make rather than TAMU making a defensive triumph) you will lose to anyone.

    I just don’t like losing to Cam Manziel. I’d rather lose to LSU playing football, or Tim Tebow being a passionate role model. But not to towels on the head and a team that doesn’t exist without the player they build an entire program around.

  10. 24

    Conduit, you make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside with your posts. GREAT and well said. What’s your thoughts on this playoff we are about to see in the next season? How do you see that playing out? After reading some of the comments on ESPN the SEC is hated (of course) and wont amount to squat in the future in the playoffs.

    • 25

      My thought is if we had the playoff this season there’d be no worries at all for Bama fans. We’d be able to win it on the field. What a few weeks ago seemed like a bad system now is a system I wish was in play in 2012.

      • 26
        The Conduit

        The playoffs at least eliminate part of the problem with scheduling. I could argue about how much of an impact our schedule had (or the LSU game alone) leading up to TAMU, but the playoffs would help mitigate that part a little bit.

        But the bottom line is the playoffs will give us all some incredible football. And like the title game, there aren’t many teams that will be in the running for the playoffs. Alabama will practically have a reserved seat as long as Saban is around. This year, Alabama and Notre Dame? Oregon and Kansas State? Then the winners of those two would play each other—–what’s not to love about that?

        My problem is that Alabama is still one of the best teams in the country. I don’t understand how anyone can rank them below Notre Dame this year, but that’s the nature of the record, not a measure of how good you are. If you’re out of the top five, you’re out of the title run once the playoffs begin.

        And that’s the problem. Alabama was the best team in the nation last year, and they gave the world an exclamation point on their standings with a shutout in the title game against LSU. A shutout, and still most of the country complained enough to change the game in an effort to put the teams with the best records into the be-all end-all title game instead of (necessarily) the best teams. It was maybe the right change but for the wrong reasons. College football gets it right most of the time, more than I think any other sport or league. The NFL’s champion has been a playoff wild-card for 3 out of the last 4 years. Think about that for a minute.

        That’s the same problem the playoffs could potentially have. If Louisville didn’t lose to Syracuse, then what? It might change the result, but anyone that says Louisville is better than Alabama is simply inaccurate. But that doesn’t mean Alabama gets in regardless. They should. And they probably would. But we don’t know yet.

        I think the bottom line is the playoffs will give college football fans some more really great football games because the most successful football teams are almost always built on the best football. The best football programs aren’t consistently hurry-up artificial formation one-man football teams. They are Oregon, LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State, So. Cal, and Boise State (just kidding, Broncos). They are not TCU, Cincinnati, Baylor, Stanford, Clemson, Kansas State, or TAMU.
        The playoffs will almost certainly include many of the best programs in the nation, and Alabama will always be in that circle as long as Saban is around. This year, Alabama would absolutely be in the playoffs. When Nick Saban has time to prepare, he doesn’t lose football games.

        But I want the best teams to play each other. To me, Alabama has so much of an identity that it’s hard to ignore how good they are at the game against anyone. Can you imagine this team, which is littered with inexperience and injuries, playing in a hurry-up artificial formation style offense? It would make you angry. We play good fundamental football. That’s why they win so much. That’s why they’d be in the playoffs this year, and also why TAMU wouldn’t, and S.Carolina wouldn’t have been in 2010, etc.

        • 27
          The Conduit

          Let me put it to you this way regarding the playoffs.

          Out of the top nine teams in the nation as of today, six are from the SEC. Yes, those six teams have all lost football games, but to who?

          Each other.

          Think about that for a minute. Think about why any of those six teams aren’t higher….and then think about what that would mean for any of the undefeated teams. Oregon is great. Kansas State is brilliant this year and doesn’t make mistakes.

          But they don’t play in the SEC.

          The fact is the SEC keeps the SEC where the rest of the country wants them to be most of the time. If the SEC didn’t play conference games, the playoffs are all SEC. Instead, the SEC plays each other. We get great football (arguably some of the best in the nation), but we also give the country SEC teams that have lost football games. I don’t dislike Notre Dame. But Notre Dame doesn’t survive in the SEC. Kansas State I’d argue wouldn’t be undefeated.

          I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about the playoffs or the opportunities for the SEC. But I think too many people want the SEC to fail for the wrong reasons and react to SEC losses without realizing what a win on the other side of the football actually means in terms of how good the SEC is, particularly compared to the rest of the top ten (including the undefeated teams).

      • 28
        The Truth

        ITK are’nt you makig the same mistake here that you made in the article before the A&M game? You are just ASSumng that bama will beat Georgia, like you ASSumed and predicted that bama would beat A&M. If bama doesn’t beat Georgia bama wouldn’t even be in the playoffs this season if we had them. So how could you win it on the field, unless you are assuming you would beat Georgia first to get there. You would think you gumps would learn from your mistakes.

  11. 30

    While I was in the stands Saturday night I was surprised at one player who I will not call out that on several plays looked to the line and raised his hands that he did not know what D to play before they snapped the ball. I also know that CNS said that several players were playing new rolls. This along with a very hard game at LSU took its toll and we lost a very close game at the end. To top it off we sat right next to the T A&M band and in front of their milk man cheer leaders, it was not one of our most enjoyable evenings in T-Town….

    I am looking forward to a strong finish from our beloved TIDE, RTR

  12. 31

    #1 al fan, The A&M game was the first Bama game this year that was on Mexican Cable. Makes me sick because I met my wife in December last year and she has known nothing but Alabama National Champs and slaughtering everybody. She has become a huge Bama fan and the first Bama game she got to see we lost the fuking thing. Of course now we hear from Indiana Volunqueer. He like Awbren fans has to live.vicariouly through the accomplishments of others. Hell of a life. Beaa Haww Hawe. RTR!

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