By Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
Today’s third and final installment of Case for the Heisman features the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Football burst onto the scene in 2012 as a redshirt freshman, leading the Southeastern Conference in passing and rushing en route to New York City. This season, he has been stellar once again, improving his numbers across the board in the passing game and once again sitting near the top of the nation in total offense.
Manziel threw for 3.387 yards and 21 touchdowns a season ago, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt while throwing 13 interceptions. In 2013, he’s thrown for 3,732 yards and 33 scores on 9.5 yards per attempt, while once again throwing 13 picks. His passer rating also improved markedly as a redshirt sophomore, from 143.8 in ’12 to 170.4 in ’13.
Johnny’s rushing numbers are down this season, as he’s run for 686 yards and eight touchdowns. The decline in his numbers on the ground are due in large part to his improvement as a passer; although Manziel still improvises and makes plays with his feet, he has been more comfortable throwing the ball than he was a season ago and has not looked to run nearly as much.
In terms of total offense, Manziel has churned out an impressive 4,418 yards (third nationally) and 41 total touchdowns. For comparison, he scored 42 total touchdowns in his Heisman campaign a season ago, but his yards per play average has improved this season from 8.0 to 8.43.
Manziel’s Aggies suffered four defeats in 2013, but it wasn’t due to a lack of production from Manziel, who averaged nearly 390 yards of total offense and totaled 12 TDs in those four games.
Against No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 14, Manziel did everything he could to help the Aggies with 464 yards and five touchdowns on 11.2 yards per attempt in an eventual 49-42 defeat. In a three-point loss to Auburn on Oct. 19, Johnny Football tossed four touchdowns to go along with 454 yards and a 198.2 passer rating.
Overall, Manziel threw three touchdowns or more in seven games, including five games of four or more and two games of five touchdown passes. The only game in which he failed to throw a touchdown this season was at Ole Miss on Oct. 12, when he ran for 124 yards and two scores to will the Aggies to a 41-38 road victory.
On Tuesday, Manziel was named first team All-SEC by the league’s 14 coaches.