'Manziel-ized' Again

It - the 41-38 loss to Texas A&M last night - came down to one thing and one thing only - which team made plays and which one didn't. With the game on the line, the Aggies did and the Rebels didn't.




For the second year in a row, Texas A&M waltzed into Oxford and escaped an upset, this time 41-38 with a game-winning field goal as time expired.

The game, and gimpy, Rebels has their chances, as they did last year, but in the end they were Manziel-ized by the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, who directed his team on the game-winning march against an injury-riddled defense.

It was one of those last-one-who-has-the-ball-wins games and A&M did, but the Rebs - just as they did against Auburn a week before - had their shot too, but could not capitalize as three passes fell, or dropped, harmlessly to the ground.

"I'm very proud of these young men. They fought their guts out," said Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze in his postgame press conference, "but when you have the chance to close things out, you have to make plays.

"They did and we didn't, simple as that."

Obviously, he said more, much more, but that was the gist of his postgame comments, and truer words were never spoken.

On the Rebs' last possession, A&M was going to force Ole Miss to do it via the air, by putting nine men in the box. To run would have been foolish.


Hugh Freeze
Associated Press

An incompletion, a drop and another incompletion forced a quick punt.

Enter Johnny Manziel. With too much time on his hands.

He and his teammates made the plays the Rebel were unable to, but Ole Miss was playing with one hand tied behind their backs.

"With Mike Hilton, Serderius Bryant, Robert Nkemdiche, C.J. Johnson and Carlos Thompson out due to injury, we were too shorthanded to run what we needed to run on defense. We had to abandon our plan and some special packages we had installed and just do the best we could with base stuff," said Freeze.

We had seen this play before, about a year ago, to be exact. This was just Act II.

Manziel calmly and coolly directed the Aggies into field goal range and it was all she wrote, and predictable. He didn't win the Heisman a year ago without having a magic touch, a touch he still possesses, as his 456 yards of total offense this time around against the Rebs indicates.

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack, who has seen and done it all in college football, cut to the chase.

"He's the hardest player I have ever tried to defend, hands down," Wommack lamented.

Manziel is a true damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't player. A rare breed.

Pressure him and he finds a crack to either run the ball like he was born to break the ankles of defenders or buy time for his receivers to extend their routes.

"When you have to plaster receivers that long, it's hard to win those battles," Wommack stated.

If you don't pressure him, he will pick you apart, as he did 31 of 39 times on the night.

Now, the Rebels are left with a 3-3 record, a training room that looks like a mash unit and another Top 10 team, LSU, warming up its buses.


Johnny Manziel
Associated Press

If the Rebel coaches were concerned about depth in July, imagine how they feel now.

Last year, injuries were not a major issue. Now they are akin, from a Rebel football perspective, to a government shutdown.

Will some of the walking wounded be back for the Tigers, one of the Top 5 teams in the nation and college football's version of a palooka boxer who is willing to slug it out until you finally submit?

We'll see. . . but if not, this defense is as thin as Nicole Ritchie.

A loss is a loss and there aren't many ways to cover up the final result. There are no excuses.

The Rebels, with the game on the line, did not produce and Texas A&M, to their credit, did.

Having said that, if you have Red & Blue running through your veins, you saw a Rebel team put it all on the line. They threw their bodies around and they put themselves in position to win late in the game.

You saw progress in "the journey."

One day, they'll make that play and get over the hump.

One day, the close-and-almost game against one of the current "big boys" will fall their way.

Until then, it was brutal, man, just brutal.


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