COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel didn’t wilt under the intense spotlight he was under in Saturday’s 49-42 loss to Alabama.
Instead he excelled.
Manziel, who had a CBS camera watching his every move, set a career and school record with 464 yards in the game to go along with five touchdowns.
If that wasn’t enough, Manziel even spoke to the media following the game for just the second time since news of the autograph scandal surrounding him broke in early August.
While Manziel was disappointed with the loss, he was proud of the way the Aggies hung in despite trailing by as many as 21 points in the second half.
“For us this isn’t the end of our season,” Manziel said. “This wasn’t the Super Bowl. This wasn’t the last game of the season. Alabama lost a game last year and still went on to win a national championship. Our season isn’t over. Anything can happen. This is college football. Some crazy things happen every week.”
With Manziel throwing to Mike Evans, anything is possible. Evans caught seven passes for a school-record 279 yards. One of his catches, a 95-yarder with just over eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, was the second longest pass play in school history.
“I knew he was going to come out and play really good,” Manziel said. “In my eyes, Mike Evans is the best receiver in college football. I see him every day. It’s just amazing.”
As good as the numbers Manziel and Evans put up were, Manziel was intercepted twice. The first one came when the Aggies were at the Alabama 4 in a 14-14 game in the second quarter. Manziel threw a bad fade in the corner of the end zone and was intercepted by Cyrus Jones.
After that pick, it took Alabama just four plays to score and take a lead it would never lose. Manziel said that interception was his fault.
That was one of the few mistakes Manziel made. In addition to his passing yards, Manziel also ran for 98 yards.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin lauded his much-scrutinized quarterback.
“I thought his play was Johnny-like,” Sumlin said. “That’s about the way to put it. He scrambled around. He made some plays. He was in the pocket. He was efficient.”
Manziel said he had no issue with the spotlight on him Saturday.
“I probably came out less nervous today than I was in other games,” he said. “What did we have to lose? The pressure wasn’t on us. The pressure was on Alabama to try and repeat and do all the stuff. We were just going to go out, play our hearts out and leave out all on the field. That’s all we could do.”