Is it any surprise that a more mature Johnny Manizel is leading his Aggies (4-1) to be an even more efficient 3rd down machine than last year? At a 56.7% conversion rate, Texas A&M leads the SEC in 3rd down efficiency. Consider this though, after five games last year it stood at 49.3% and ended at 54.9%. A clear reason for this increase in efficiency, of course, lies in the hands (and feet) of sophomore QB Johnny Manziel (10 carries for 82 yards, 17/22 for 322 yards and 6 TD). He has also only been sacked three times on 3rd down–a product of a great coaching and protection on the line of scrimmage. Surprisingly enough, he has carried the ball twenty-four less times than at the five-game mark last year, but still has run for six first downs on 3rd down.
“He’s a bit different than most people” says Coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin notes that much of his maturation came from last year’s come-from-behind win at Ole Miss. The game was wrought with six turnovers, half from Manziel, and two of those three on 3rd down.The fun started when Manziel was picked off in the red zone early in the 4th quarter. The Rebels maintained the lead 27-17, until 3rd-and-19 when Johnny Football completed a 32-yard pass, then two plays later Manziel scored on a run. Next possession, Manziel threw a 20-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-3 for a 30-27 win over the Rebels. Through 3rd down efficiency on two plays, Johnny Manziel, then a freshman, lead the Aggies to their first SEC road game win. If that doesn’t put hair on your chest, not much else will.
Things do not look great for Ole Miss (3-2) who could not stop Auburn’s Nick Marshall 140 yards and two touchdowns. On top of that, the Rebels have allowed opponents to convert 41.3 percent of their third down attempts. As we have seen with Kentucky, converting (or not converting) on 3rd down impacts the game in a drastic way, and at this rate the odds are ever in favor of Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies.