Bama evaporates the “Manziel Magic” this season in College Station.
Breaking Down the Reasons Bama Rolls Over A&M This Season
By: Larry Burton
There are lots of reasons for this old reporter to feel that Bama will roll over Texas A&M this fall, some are based in logic, some in superstition and some just on a strong gut instinct that rarely fails me.
This is Alabama, they are Texas A&M. Every dog has it’s day and A&M had theirs last year. Though it was an embarrassment to the Tide, it didn’t derail their national title run as it might this year. The crew at the Capstone know that they can’t continue on counting on late season help to put them back in the driver’s seat.
Last year Alabama was clearly the better team, but they lost. That doesn’t happen to great teams too often and this year the gulf between starting talent at the two schools is even farther apart.
Simply put, lightning won’t strike twice in the same place two years in a row.
Secondly, this could be the finest, most complete at every position offense that Alabama has had in a long long time. This is an offense that could possibly score more points than any Alabama team in the Saban era.
And it comes at a time when the Texas A&M Aggie defense is less ready for it than last year. This should wind up being at least a three score win for Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s offense just hit high gear at the wrong time for these Aggies trying to rebuild a defense that showed too many bad things last season.
The Alabama offense will simply overwhelm the Aggie defense but on the flip side, the defenders from Tuscaloosa will keep this game from turning into a track meet. Though the Aggies can and will score, they just won’t do it as much or near often enough to keep the game close.
This is going to be McCarron’s best year, with what could be an offensive line which could surpass last year’s “Best Line Ever” team. Combine that with the deepest and best stable of running backs, the nation’s number one receiving corps and an inventive offensive coordinator. No team will have an answer for this year’s Crimson Tide offense.
Secondly, defense usually wins close games and Alabama’s defense will be far better than A&M’s. So Manziel could have a statistically good day, but still fall short in points. It’s going to be much harder for the A&M defense to stop Alabama, than for the Tide to contain A&M.
There’s the Nick Saban at Alabama streak of nobody defeating one of his Tide teams two years in a row. Is there any reason for that to end in this game?
Call it superstition, call it luck, call it coincidence, but you have to call it consistent. It’s going to happen this year too. Some streaks are just too good to break.
Gut Feeling Reasons
Can you say “Sophomore Slump”? Johnny Football came from obscurity to Heisman winner really, really fast, scary fast in fact. There’s no where to go but down from the spot Manziel stood at the end of last season. With the A&M team down overall from last season, he may be expected to carry the team more than he did last season.
That’s a lot to put on one man.
Secondly, I think Johnny Football is not just burning his candle at both ends, but burning some bridges as well. His tweet about “Bulls— like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be.” can’t be good for holding his fan base as close and might just burn some bridges with his team mates.
Secondly, he has not attended class at college station since winning the Heisman, choosing instead to do online classes. This too may not sit well with the student population as a whole.
He didn’t make friends for pushing an graduate assistant coach on the sidelines working with the defense for celebrating his boys third interception of Manziel in a spring practice. Besides showing himself to be a jerk, the real story here is that he threw three interceptions against a pass defense that really isn’t top rate.
He certainly burned a bridge with the Mannings and their Manning Passing Academy they hold each year after he was unceremoniously asked to leave after falling asleep in team meetings, being hung over and unable to participate in drills and mainly just acting like a privileged drunk the time he was there.
Then there was the bar fight, arrest and conviction with a two day jail sentence, a $2000 fine and $232 in court costs. He was convicted of failure to identify himself to a police officer, there was a fake ID involved and of course fighting. This conviction came down as Manziel was set to leave for this week’s SEC media days in Alabama.
And instead of spending time with football team mates, he has played the celebrity circuit going to high visibility sporting events and parties where he’s chugging $300 bottles of Dom Pérignon. Could the team be just a little jaded at his attitude of late?
He may have lost his hot girlfriend, her friends said he had turned into a jerk since gaining all this fame and you have to wonder if there’s some smoke to that fire. There’s also a lot of pictures of him being very friendly with lots of other pretty girls. That can’t help a relationship.
And there is no end to the public reports of his drinking and partying. This while Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron continues Saban’s process, runs “7 on 7” games with his receivers all summer long and continues his workout regimen.
With all the attention on “Johnny Football” and barely a dim flashlight on the rest of the team, how good is that for morale on the Aggie’s team? People across the country would be hard pressed right now to name two other Texas A&M players on the team besides Manziel.
In short, this is a guy with a lot of problems and a tail spinning public image on the team and in public. One or two of these things might be easy to bear, but this much could effect anyone. What could be the sad truth is that the problems may not be over. The world is just waiting for the next shoe to fall in this saga.
Meanwhile many miles to the East, the people he will go against in crimson are doing just the opposite. They’re working their tails off, keeping their noses clean and doing all the can to build team unity and cohesion.
It’s always been my belief that teams win games and individuals win awards. Perhaps McCarron put it in a better prospective this past week when asked about comparisons to himself and Manziel and maybe one upping him, McCarron stated, “Nah, I just try to win. I don’t try to one-up anybody. I just want rings. That’s all I want.”
That kind of mentality is what a coach wants to hear from a man who is a leader on his team.
Lastly, there is something stronger than this game just being a “revenge” game. Though men on this team already have three rings on their fingers, this group has told me that they want to win one as an undefeated, untied, unquestioned season.
So just when you thought that a team that has won back to back championships has nothing left to shoot for, here’s the proof that you would be wrong.
“Our goal as a team is to work our butts off till fall, get ready and do all the preparation we need to do to go out and win every game this coming season.” McCarron told me. “And that is the only goal we need to focus on. If we do the preparation and work our tails off, that will happen and that’s how I want this next team to be remembered.”
And it’s not just AJ that feels that way. C.J. Mosely echoed the same sentiments to me at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta in the locker room after the game. “This game puts up back in the national championship game and that’s fantastic, but we shouldn’t have had to have help to get here, we should have won every game this year and we could have won every game this year, but we lost focus. Our goal next season will be to work hard and focus every down of every game and win them all. That’s how I want to end my career at Alabama, that’s what Alabama deserves.” he said.
So this year the goal is not an SEC title or another national championship, but an undefeated season of perfection. If they achieve that, the other titles will simply be stepping stones to that ending along with the stepping stone of beating the Texas A&M Aggies.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter