This Saturday the Texas A&M Aggies travel to Baton Rouge to face LSU in a SEC West showdown. It will be the hardest task to date for a young, inexperienced LSU defense. They will be faced with the daunting challenge of doing something that no team has done this season, slow down Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense.
Johnny Football presents an almost impossible challenge for any defense with his ability to pick you apart through the air behind his big offensive line but also torch you with his legs. Manziel has made a name for himself with his jaw-dropping scrambles. He currently leads the Aggies with 611 yards on the ground to accompany his eight rushing touchdowns.
However, unlike Auburn’s Nick Marshall, Manziel is so much more than just a running quarterback. He is currently ranked third in the country in passing touchdowns, with 31 and eighth in passing yards, with 3313. Manziel has an uncanny ability to use his legs to extend plays until a wide receiver pops open. He is an accurate passer with underrated arm strength.
It also helps that Manziel has one of the best receivers in the nation in Mike Evans. Evans constantly uses his big frame to his advantage, frequently coming down with spectacular receptions.
His weaknesses are the by-product of his strengths. He plays with reckless abandon and has the confidence to make every play, even when there isn’t a play to be made. He too frequently throws jump balls hoping for an Aggie receiver to come down with a reception, frequently his receivers do so, but sometimes his risky throws result in interceptions. Manziel has 11 interceptions this season including four costly picks in Texas A&M’s two losses.
For LSU, Zach Mettenberger has had a much improved season throwing the football. Mettenberger has appeared far more confident this year under Cam Cameron’s new offense. He has built a strong relationship with star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Mettenberger success should be partially credited to this receiver tandem. They have been on the receiving end of over 73% percent of his passing yards and 80% of passing touchdowns.
Expect both Mettenberger and Manziel to have gaudy stat lines by the end of the game. Both defenses are inexperienced and have struggled this season, expect plenty of offensive fireworks in Baton Rouge .
Special thanks to Texas A&M student J.D. Smiley for his help with the article.