Ole Miss senior Defensive End Cameron Whigham was on the receiving end of Tezxas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel's "unpredictability" last year. He knows what to expect Saturday when the Rebels take on the Aggies in Oxford.

When college football fans watch Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winning Quarterback Johnny Manziel play, they see a lot of magic.

The reigning make-something-out-of-nothing king of college football does his Houdini act many times each game and dazzles onlookers far and wide.

But as Ole Miss senior DE Cameron Whigham knows, it's one thing to watch this improvisational act, it's another to chase him down and stop him.

At times, it's like watching college football's version of a three-ring circus act, with a lion tamer, a juggler and a high-wire act going on at the same time.

"Johnny Manziel does a lot of things nobody else can do or will do," Whigham said. "You have to defend him differently than anyone you play and you know when the game starts you are in for a the long haul.

"You can never let up and you can never take for granted that a play is over when the ball is in his hands. We will come up with some different looks to try to throw him off stride so we can be successful, but defending him is a full day's work."

Sometimes, Whigham says, it's a guessing game with Manziel and his wing-it, sandlot style of play.

Cameron Whigham
Chuck Rounsaville

"You really never know what he's going to do, what move he's going to make, whether he's going to run or pass," noted Whigham. "He's not just fast, he's quick and he's also hard to take off his feet because it's hard to get a clean shot on him and he's stronger than he looks."

But Manziel is not a one-man show, as Whigham is quick to point out. Texas A&M's offensive prowess can also be illustrated in the stats they are putting up - number one in the SEC in scoring average (49.2 ppg.), total offense (586.4 ypg.) and passing offense (365 ypg.).

And they are also rushing for over 200 yards an outing, fifth in the conference.

"Their best running back (Ben Malena) is a senior with a lot of experience and success in this league," Whigham continued. "We will always think run first on defense, but it's hard with them because you always have in the back of your mind that they can pass anytime from anywhere."

Whig is pleased so far with the progress of the defensive line, all things considered.

"We are playing some young guys, but I think we are progressing well," he noted. "We are all working hard to get better and to be the kind of defensive line we want to be.

"Coach (Chris) Kiffin pushes us hard and that's the way we want it. We aren't afraid of putting in the effort to improve and get the job done. We don't mind the grind."

For Whigham, the year didn't start out like he had hoped, getting beaten out by freshman Robert Nkemdiche in August drills, but instead of going into a shell, he has tightened his chinstrap. As a result, he's getting more playing time of late.

"It starts on Tuesday. You can't wait until Friday to decide you want to play. I have made up my mind that if I am going to earn playing time with the competition we have on the DL now, I have to put it all on the line every day or I will get left behind and that's not what I want to do my senior season," he explained. "When I started doing that, I started getting more playing time and more reps."

As a senior, how has he seen the progress of the younger guys - Nkemdiche, Woodrow Hamliton, Channing Ward, et al.

"It's a big challenge coming in here as a freshman and doing what Robert has done. Also, people forget that Woody and Channing have not played a lot, so the improvement they have made has been impressive too," he closed. "I'm proud of their progress.

"We are a really tight DL group and we lean on each other hard. I know whenever Robert doesn't understand something, I'm there for him and we are all like that. We are here for each other."

Being there for each other, and being a tight unit, takes on an extra significance this week when Johnny Manziel and the Aggies roll into Oxford.

College football's equivalence of the circus is coming to town.

Whigham and the DL will be a big part of what kind of a show it turns out to be.

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