1 alum Texas A&M needs most in 2016
It seems like a no-brainer. The alum that could help Texas A&M most this season is a pretty obvious choice. True, he’s run his football career into the ground since, but if the Aggies could take someone from the past to recreate his skills on the gridiron and have an impact in 2016, it would be none other than Johnny Manziel.
The player that took the SEC by storm, Manziel would be the shot in the arm the offense has been missing since … well, Johnny Football. His 3,706 passing yards and 1,410 rushing yards from a Heisman Trophy season in 2012 sure would come in handy for the upcoming campaign, one of transition and uncertainty both from the perspective of a new offense and a new quarterback running it.
Manziel’s ability to make things happen, to turn busted plays into big plays, is definitely an aspect the Aggies have not had since his premature departure following a 2013 season in which he threw for another 4,114 yards and rushed for an additional 759 yards.
That’s not to say the Aggies are devoid of talent at the position in 2016. But a talent like that doesn’t come along very often, and given the particular situation the Aggies find themselves in as they look ahead to next season, it sure would be nice to have a playmaker like Manziel in the backfield.
Oklahoma graduate transfer Trevor Knight has proven he can play in big games. It’s been a while since he’s shown that ability, but it’s there. Whether or not he can recreate the type of numbers produced in the Jan. 2014 Sugar Bowl game remains to be seen. But Knight was quite Manziel-like, at least for that one game, throwing for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 45-31 victory over Alabama.
What makes those numbers even more amazing is that coming into that game, Knight had thrown for 471 yards and 5 touchdowns all season (seven games).
He’s being asked to produce something similar over the course of an entire season in College Station this year, and do it under a new system. It’s not an impossible task, but it is a lot to ask of someone in his first season at the school.
Manziel was able to do it, but that’s still putting a lot of pressure on the newcomer.
Knight is a leader if nothing else. His teammates have raved about those qualities since Knight first stepped on campus. And that could go a long way in uniting the team around him. There is something to be said for team chemistry, another quality the program has lacked in recent years.
The Aggies have what many consider to be the best receiving corps in the SEC. Manziel would have had a field day with those guys. It’s the hope that when all is said and done, that Knight will have excelled similarly. There is reason for optimism that it could happen.
But a big question mark remains in the offensive line, which lost a tremendous amount of talent from last season. A revamped group must jell, and quickly if Knight is to indeed put up numbers anywhere close to what he accomplished in that Sugar Bowl game, or the numbers Manziel put up over his two seasons in College Station.
Add to that a need for someone to step up and become the Aggies’ featured running back. The departure of 1,000-yard rusher Tra Carson has left a huge void that can’t be overlooked. Noel Mazzone’s new offensive scheme, while fast-paced and up-tempo, still relies heavily on the run game.
And that’s where Knight will need help. He has proven ability to get the ball to his receivers if given the proper amount of time to do so.
However, he won’t beat anyone with his feet, although he did rush for 784 yards and 7 touchdowns over his first two seasons at Oklahoma. So it isn’t as though he is immobile. However, given his past injuries, it’s unlikely that we will see him improvise Manziel-style on plays that aren’t executed smoothly from the snap.
Yes, Manziel’s magic over the 2012 and 2013 seasons would be a welcomed addition to the 2016 team. But the Aggies are hoping that with Knight’s proven abilities and a new scheme, a successful season doesn’t hinge on so much as a Heisman-worthy effort.