"Johnny Football" is the wave of the future at the quarterback position.
Traditional NFL enthusiasts might cringe at the notion of a spread-option quarterback taking over the league, but that development seems inevitable when you look at the college football being played on Saturdays. Texas A&M signal-caller Johnny Manziel is one of several dual-threat playmakers (including Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Kansas State's Collin Klein and Oregon's Marcus Mariota) who torment opponents with their versatility. Creative offensive coordinators are finding ways to maximize these players' considerable talents by giving them multiple run-pass options on every play, exploiting the vulnerable areas of opposing defenses. When coupled with a quick tempo and a wide variety of formations, the multitude of options allows the quarterback to operate like a point guard running a fast break in basketball.
I watched Texas A&M's surprising win over Alabama, and there isn't a better point guard in college football than Manziel. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound red-shirt freshman was magical against the Crimson Tide, completing 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 92 rushing yards on 18 attempts, including a 32-yard jaunt that showcased his impressive speed, quickness and elusiveness.
While those unfamiliar with Manziel's exploits this season likely came away surprised by his performance, I suggest that it wouldn't even qualify as the best showing of the year for the prolific signal-caller, slotting in as another in a long line of strong outings. Manziel has topped 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game four times this season, and leads the SEC in rushing with 1,014 yards. Most impressively, he ranks fourth in the SEC in passer rating (151.2) and sports an impressive 18:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Offensive coordinators are adept at building game plans around the talents of their playmakers. Manziel has the kind of ability that some NFL evaluators could find intriguing down the road.
Here are three things I noticed about Manziel's game and his ability as a first-year player for the Aggies:
1) Accuracy: Manziel's arm isn't the strongest in college football, but he is a pinpoint passer with outstanding accuracy and touch.