Johnny Manziel wasn’t lucky last season. He wasn’t a fluke. Even if defensive coordinators have a year’s worth of film on Manziel and time to prepare for him, they won’t necessarily stop him. Ask Oklahoma how that goes.
You might be able to fool someone for a game or two. You do not throw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns and rush for 1,409 and 21 touchdowns at a SEC school by some miraculous stroke of fortune, no matter what some fans like to argue. There’s hating an opponent, and then there’s insanity. Claiming that Manziel really isn’t that good is both, but much more the latter.
Manziel was the best player in college football last year. There’s a really good chance he’ll be the best player in college football again. That’s the biggest and most obvious reason the Texas A&M quarterback is the easy favorite to win the Heisman again in 2013.
The Alabama game came on a bigger stage, against the best team in college football last season, but the Cotton Bowl might have been Manziel’s virtuoso performance last season. There are many to pick from, really, but rewatch that game against Oklahoma and you’ll see a quarterback who can beat a defense in every single way.
In the first half against Oklahoma, Manziel had 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries, including a great touchdown run down the sideline for the Aggies’ first score. Oklahoma couldn’t catch up to him. But he was just 9-of-17 passing for 75 yards in the first half. In the second half, he was 13-of-17 passing for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
In the first half, he was unstoppable with his legs. In the second half, almost like he had a point to prove, he carved up the Sooners through the air. He finished with a Cotton Bowl record 516 total yards. It didn’t seem fair.
He was great in the Cotton Bowl, and really for his entire freshman season. If he’s a one-year wonder, he’s going to be falling off from one of the best seasons a college quarterback has had. Even with some regression, Manziel’s second best season is going to be really good.
Manziel could get injured. He could lose to Alabama early and fall behind the race a bit early. Texas A&M might lose a few games. Maybe he will have a mediocre or poor performance in another big game. Someone else, like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney or a player we’re not even considering right now, might have a season for the ages. These things might keep Manziel from a second Heisman Trophy.
But it won’t be because Manziel is not good enough or is a one-year wonder. He doesn’t need another great season to legitimize his 2012 campaign. But a big 2013 season, and a second Heisman, would put him on a different level in terms of college football history.