Some random Monday morning notes and observations as Alabama enters Texas A&M week.
With Texas A&M's spread offense up next, a rested CJ Mosley will be in the middle of the action this week.
*With all due respect to Johnny Manziel's mind-boggling stats and highlight reel performances this season, there are two Texas A&M games worth studying when looking ahead to this week's matchup between the Crimson Tide and Aggies: Florida and LSU.
The Gators and Tigers presented defensive challenges to A&M's wunderkind QB similar to what he'll see from UA this week. And in each of those games, the script unfolded in similar fashion.
With the Florida and LSU defenses limiting Manziel's Doug Flutie impersonation to the passing game, one half of the A&M offense was essentially eliminated.
The SEC's leader in rushing (102.4 ypg), total offense (383.2 ypg) and scoring (10 ppg), Manziel rushed for 60 yards, passed for 173 more and accounted for one score in the Aggies' 20-17 loss to UF on Sept. 8.
After racking up 182 total yards in the opening half of the Florida game, Manziel was limited to 51 yards of total offense in the second half.
In A&M's 24-19 loss to LSU on Oct. 20, the Tigers held Manziel to 27 yards on the ground, forcing him to go to the air 53 times. As a result, the redshirt freshman was sacked three times and intercepted three times.
So based on those two games, the over-unders for Manziel against the Alabama defense this week are 300 total yards, one total touchdown and one interception.
*Tebow Rules will likely be in effect for Manziel this week, with a good bit of zone coverage in the secondary and mush rush from the defensive line. Like a good point guard loves working against the press, Manziel is at his best when opponents bring the blitz and play man coverage behind it. When forced to sit in the pocket, his effectiveness decreases significantly.
*As a team, the Aggies are much more than Johnny Football.
It might come as a surprise to some, but A&M has more players listed on NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.'s, Big Board of top 25 prospects for the 2013 Draft than LSU (two), Alabama (two) and Georgia (two).
Impressive considering that the talented A&M trio of defensive end Damontre Moore (No.4) and offensive tackles Luke Joeckel (No. 5) and Jake Matthews (No. 21) doesn't include a senior.
Moore leads the SEC in sacks (1.3 spg) and is second in tackles for loss (2.1 tflpg).
*The latest installment of Alabama-LSU drew the highest television rating of any college football game this year. After all the cries of protest leading up to last season's rematch in New Orleans, it does my heart good knowing the rest of the country found the game worthy of their attention.
*Watching the replay of Saturday night's game, pretty clear that it was the worst tackling performance by an Alabama defense since the 2010 South Carolina game. While the struggles weren't limited to just one or two guys, here's guessing CJ Mosley's limited role factored into it.
*Thirteen Alabama field goal attempts in two games against LSU a season ago followed up by a quiet night for Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster this time around. No other UA players were happier to see T.J. Yeldon find the end zone than those guys.
*I liked Cyrus Jones' decision to field Brad Wing's second-quarter punt. Alabama's confident freshman return man just came up short on the execution end of things.
*A note for future consideration: Georgia will be without wide receiver Marlon Brown for the remainder of the season. The 6-foot-5 senior, who caught 27 passes for 469 yards (17.4 ypc) and four touchdowns in eight games this season, tore his ACL in the Bulldogs' 37-10 win over Ole Miss.
The loss of Brown is a large blow for a UGA receiving cops that was already without leading receiver Michael Bennett, who went down with a knee injury in early October.
*If you're a fan of blitzing, the SEC was the place for you Saturday. If you're a fan of beating the blitz, you probably enjoyed the weekend even more.
While Ole Miss sacked Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray five times, all in the first half, the Rebels' pass rush didn't get there often enough, as Murray torched the Ole Miss secondary for 384 passing yards and four touchdowns,
In Baton Rouge, the Alabama and LSU defenses both brought blitzes throughout their epic showdown, with the offenses winning more than losing when dealing with pressure. In fact, the screen play to Yeldon that won the game for the Crimson Tide came against a telegraphed Tiger blitz.
*For all I know, Anthony Steen graded out lower than any other UA lineman Saturday night. But watching in real time, I was most impressed with the right guard, who often had his way with LSU defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Josh Downs.
Overshadowed this season by players to his left and right, look for the junior to appear on most preseason all-SEC lists in 2013.
*The same can be said for left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who accounted for himself quite nicely while going against projected first-round pick Sam Montgomery. Montgomery's lone sack came on a three step-drop in which the ball never came out. After averaging seven tackles for loss against the Alabama offense in 2011, the Tigers posted just two TFLs Saturday night.
*The key to defending Oregon is surviving the opening quarter. The Ducks' turbo approach to running plays combined with their devastating speed is impossible to simulate on the practice field, which leads to some serious issues for an opposing defense during the first two or three series of the game.
That said, there are defenses out there capable of weathering the early storm. They just don't exist west of Baton Rouge.
Belue was in great shape on a couple of critical LSU completions Saturday night, but a combination of NFL throws from Zach Mettenberger and strong hands from his receivers led to the junior college transfer coming up on the short end of the stick.
The good news for Belue is that Manziel and his receivers will give him plenty of opportunities to rebound this week.
*As expected, LSU was in two-back and a tight end personnel for most of the game, an approach that kept Mosley sidelined for most of the game. Even with the situation calling for base personnel from UA, it's hard to watch the Alabama defense go long stretches without one of its top two players on the field. Looking at the rest of the schedule, that shouldn't be a problem, beginning with A&M's spread offense this week.
*It'll be interesting to see what the fallout is like for LSU coach Les Miles following the loss to Alabama. I don't think the coach-fanbase relationship down there will sink to the same level as a few years ago, but there's no question that next year's game in Tuscaloosa will be especially big for Miles.
I'm still convinced that Miles' biggest win at LSU came against Alabama two seasons ago. At the time, Tiger fans were all but done with Miles. A come from behind win over the Crimson Tide in 2010 led to a deferred acceptance of Miles that looked to be strong -- until Saturday night.
*Given the ties between Alabama and Texas A&M with former coaches Paul Bryant, Gene Stallings and Dennis Franchione, no lack of storylines this week. With Bryant (six) and Stallings (one) having secured seven national titles for UA, safe to say the trades have worked in the Crimson Tide's favor to this point.
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