Alabama looked human last weekend against LSU, something slightly different from the machine we witnessed in the first nine weeks. To win the game on the final drive in the final minute on the road is an emotional high. It just doesn’t get better than that. We saw that written in AJ McCarron’s tears. And teams have 24-hour rules implemented by coaches to dwell on either a win or a loss, and then they have to put it behind them and get ready for the next week. Emotional hangovers can be costly for teams, and Alabama will have to put the LSU game behind them and bounce back against a very formidable opponent in Texas A&M, who can absolutely take advantage of any letdown by the Tide.
South Carolina and Florida couldn’t do it. They couldn’t bounce back from emotional wins. The Gators thrashed the Gamecocks 44-11 at home and turned right around and laid an egg against Georgia 17-9, coughing up the ball six times without even getting to the end zone. Taking nothing away from Georgia, it was obvious from the get-go the emotion was not there for the Gators. Likewise, South Carolina pummeled Georgia at home 35-7 and turned around and had a letdown against LSU the very next week on the road. The Gamecocks looked like the team that would rival the Crimson Tide, but LSU humbled them the very next week. The Tigers forced two turnovers and yielded only 211 total yards, after USC posted nearly 400 yards of total offense against Georgia the week before.
We see every week teams that huge victories have letdowns. It’s part of being human. It’s tough to get up for every single football game. Alabama can beat 95 percent of all college football teams while not even playing to their potential.
But not the Aggies.
Johnny Manziel is coming to Tuscaloosa and bringing the Aggies’ high-octane offense hungry for an upset. We don’t typically see teams in the SEC average 500-plus yards per game of total offense, and Texas A&M is currently averaging 559.6 total yards per game. In fact, no SEC team in the last five years has finished a regular season averaging over 500 yards of total offense. Not Auburn, not Florida.
We’ve talked so much about the blue print for beating Manziel and limiting the offense. Florida and LSU provided that road map, and they had the players to execute the plan. Containing Johnny in the pocket and playing six defensive backs is a great place to start. Twice the Aggies came out very strong against the Gators and Tigers, but in-game adjustments helped both teams limit Manziel in the second half and ultimately win the football game. Likewise, Alabama has that caliber of defensive players, if not better, and they have the ultimate schemer against running quarterbacks in Nick Saban.
Bama hasn’t allowed a running quarterback to hit 50 yards on the ground since Tim Tebow did it in 2009 in the SEC Championship. Alabama, of course, won that game 32-13. Cam Newton? He ran for just 39 yards, as he did his damage through the air. Denard Robinson? He ran for just 27 yards on 10 attempts. Manziel may be a slightly different animal than Tebow, Newton or Robinson, but the plan and scheme doesn’t change.
Manziel, however, is developing as a formidable passer, too. He completed over 83 percent of his passes with over 300 yards in the air against Mississippi State, and he’s second in the SEC with 2,527 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has a massive offensive line that provides ample protection, receivers who can get open and make plays and a developing running game with Ben Malena and Christine Michael in the backfield. It’s not all just Manziel.
We know about the Aggies, the difficulties that come with limiting the offense and their 5-0 road record, but the biggest question will be whether the Tide can bounce back from their ecstatic win in Baton Rouge last week.
There is no time for an emotional hangover or letdown in Tuscaloosa, because the Aggies have the kind of team that will take advantage of it.
Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE