Mosley Will ‘Spy' Texas A&M's Manziel

In the early days of preparation for Texas A&M, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the possibility of the Crimson Tide using a "spy." That was not a reference to illegal observation of Aggies' practices, but rather the use of a defensive player to shadow a star offensive player.



There is no question about the outstanding offensive player Alabama will face this week. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last year as a freshman, primarily because of his play in a win by the Aggies over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

On Saturday, No. 1 ranked Alabama will be in College Station to take on No. 6 Texas A&M with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CDT. CBS will televise the game.

When Nick Saban was asked about the possible use of a spy for Manziel, and specifically the possibility of All-America linebacker C.J. Mosley for that job, the Bama coach said it would be the responsibility of all 11 defensive players doing their jobs if Manziel was to be contained. But, Saban agreed, if there was going to be a spy, Mosley would "be a good choice."

Following Wednesday's practice, Mosley was discussing the chore of playing against Manziel and revealed, "In the SEC, you don't spy too many quarterbacks. It's an honor to spy a Heisman Trophy winner, so I have to do my job. The defense has to execute."

So, he was asked, "Are you the spy?"

"Yes sir," Mosley said. "I'm pretty sure I am."

Mosley said his method of playing against Manziel is "come at him full speed. He's going to scramble, he's going to run around. I can't be pausing or shaking with him. Just attack. The defense has to attack when we have a chance to hit him, when we have a chance to make a play.

"For the defensive line it's all about contain. That's their big role of this week. And for the DBs and the linebackers it's all about eye control, being with your man or if you have him, the quarterback, mask him, spy him, whatever. We just have to make sure we execute."

Last year the Aggies jumped out to a 20-0 lead and held on for a 29-24 win. Mosley said the reason the defense was able to play more effectively after the first quarter was that the coaches and players "kind of got the feel for what they were doing. It was all about the tempo, kind of the pace of the game. The coaches had to feel out what they were doing because it was their first time facing them, too.

"I feel like this year we'll have a stronger game plan and everyone will feel more confident about it."

One advantage for the Alabama defense over the task of the Tide offense is crowd noise. Generally, a home crowd attempts to disrupt the opposing offense with its noise, while keeping quiet when its own team is on offense. Therefore, Mosley said, the defense has an easier time making calls on the road than when playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

On Wednesday the team went into the indoor practice facility to practice with artificial crowd noise.

Mosley said the two weeks of practice for the Aggies after a first game win over Virginia Tech has been up-tempo, "so it's been going by kind of fast. We've been practicing well. The next couple of days will be all about cleaning up some little things."

To that end, Mosley said the scout team has "done a great job. You can nver simulate how fast [an opposing] team is going to be, but for them just to give us a picture, it's gone pretty well."

There has been much talk of "eye control" in the Alabama camp this year, primarily because of a memorable touchdown scored by the Aggies last year. Manziel appeared to fumble the snap, but he recovered the ball in mid-air and then found a wide open receiver in the end zone.

Mosley said that play was "pretty much the definition" of eye control.

"We weere in zone defense, he fumbled the ball, and everyone thought it was about to be a turnover, me included. A couple of players ran out by where the ball was and tried to tackle him, and he popped out and threw it to where we had been.

"So when you say ‘eye control,' you've got to make sure you stay in your zones."

Isn't that easier said than done?

"It will be this year because we kind of learned our lesson last year," Mosley said. "It's all about discipline and doing our job."

BamaMag Top Stories