Anyone concerned about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel being worn down by the banquet tour following his historic December can rest easy.
The Heisman Trophy winner will be ready to go when the Aggies meet Oklahoma Jan. 4 in the Cotton Bowl (on FOX) in Arlington.
“Just getting back from the Leno show the other night, he got back in here the other day, he just said ‘Hey coach, I’m ready to play some football,'” said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said during Wednesday’s teleconference. “He’s through with all that. Fortunately we’re out of school now. He can get back to just being with his teammates and practicing. Just talking with him yesterday, he looks excited to just be off the circuit, be back in the huddle calling plays.”
Plenty has changed since Manziel and the Aggies (10-2) last hit the field. Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, was named the Associated Press Player of the Year and has crisscrossed the country, mingling with Hollywood stars Megan Fox and Anne Hathaway along the way.
As for the Aggies, they are preparing for their first game of the season without Kliff Kingsbury as the team’s offensive coordinator. Kinsgbury took the head coaching job at Texas Tech, leaving the play-calling duties for the game against the Sooners to Clarence McKinney, the team’s running back coach.
Sumlin doesn’t expect anything to change for Manziel and the offense.
“We’re not going to depart from what we do at this point of the year,” Sumlin said. “I talked earlier last week about not being in a hurry to hire anybody (to replace Kingsbury). We have an offensive staff that understands what we’re doing and we made some adjustments.”
Whoever is calling the plays, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops knows trying to slow down Manziel is a priority. Whether or not the Sooners can get it done is another question.
Stoops knows it won’t be easy, especially because Manziel is also the leading rusher for A&M.
“He (Manziel) throws the ball so well, throws it so well on the run,” Stoops said. “But he’s one of those guys, maybe sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody because there he goes. He just has a great knack, an instinct for avoiding pressure and creating plays. You face other quarterbacks who can run pretty well, but I don’t know to the degree the run and pass like he’s been able to do.”
At least Stoops should have an idea of what to expect out of Sumlin. Sumlin was on Stoops’ Oklahoma staff from 2003 to 2007, serving as the co-offensive coordinator his final two years there (2006-2007). Sumlin left the Sooners to take the head coaching job at Houston.
Now Sumlin hopes to continue the No. 1 lesson he learned under Stoops against the Sooners – winning.
“I think the biggest that I got out of the experience in five years was the culture that Bob had created, the winning culture, how to do things, how things were done at Oklahoma,” Sumlin said. “That’s not easy to do.”