I. A word on Johnny Football
Johnny Manziel returned to the football field after an offseason of drama and a first-half suspension to put up the dazzling numbers we’re accustomed to. But the story after the game was his showboating antics on the field, the most severe of which got him a penalty for taunting and a subsequent benching by his coach Kevin Sumlin. Listen, I’m not necessarily against a player being chippy or showboating a bit to the crowd. But it cannot be your quarterback. A wide receiver after a big catch or a defensive end after a big sack can play to the crowd with questionable gestures or even trash talk opponents and I don’t have a problem with it. But your quarterback is your leader; he is held to – and has to set – the highest standard. His emotion needs to be intense, but focused because he needs to be steadfast in the face of adversity. Name me a great quarterback in the NFL who cracks jokes or does something like flash phantom money signs after a big play. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Nope. Newcomers Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck? No way. Those guys don’t because they are above that nonsense. Manziel needs to rid himself of this desire to show off his football superiority with silly antics. NFL scouts are watching his every move and these are not qualities that executives want in the leader of their team.
II. Jameis Winston is the new Manziel
Besides, Johnny Manziel is so 2012 anyway. The new freshman to explode into college football this year is Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston came into the opener versus Pitt with ridiculous hype and somehow managed to exceed it. He went 25-for-27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns, and added a fifth touchdown with his legs. This kid has all the playmaking ability and escapability as Manziel, but with prototype NFL size at 6’4″ and 230 pounds. This kid supposedly has play diagrams he drew up in middle school, showing his focus and desire, to go along with his freakish skills like being able to throw a baseball in the upper 90s as a two-sport college athlete. Winston’s legend already comes with more stories of chasing his football dreams with blinders than Manziel’s. Let’s hope he keeps his highlights solely on the field.
III. “Turnover Tommy” looks more like “Touchdown Tommy”
I thought all off-season about how much of an enigma Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees is. On one hand, he is “Turnover Tommy,” the guy who in 2011 accounted for 19 turnovers, mostly in red zone and critical situations. A propensity for turnovers at terrible times would suggest an issue with self confidence, which leads to hesitation and mistakes. But then on the other hand, Rees is the guy who comes off the bench cold and manufactures a drive to get the Irish back in the swing. He did that very thing last year, orchestrating a game winning drive versus Purdue. So how can a QB crack under pressure one minute then have ice water in his veins the next? Whatever the case, Rees (who once got booed in Notre Dame Stadium) has started off this year with a bang. He threw for 346 yards versus Temple, and more importantly threw no picks and showed a propensity for throwing the deep ball. Rees is the son of a former coach and has high football IQ. Now that his emotions are in check, he could lead the Irish to a lot of wins this year.
IV. Jadeveon Clowney will not win the Heisman
I say that not because of his lack of conditioning or productivity in the opener, but for other reasons that became abundantly clear after watching Clowney on tape versus UNC. Too much can be done to take him, or any premier defensive end, out of a game: wide splits by the offensive line, double team blocks, screens/draws, chip blocks, game planning plays away from him and so forth. Of course, Clowney is still a weapon because when you game plan to limit the potential productivity of a single defensive player, it opens things up for the other 10 guys. Offensive players can be game-planned to be taken out of games as well, but it’s harder, especially quarterbacks for the simple reason that they touch the ball between 65 and 90 plays a game. So while Clowney can still be dominant – and I see him having a big game against Georgia – this year’s Heisman will again go to a quarterback, the 10th quarterback to receive the award in the last 12 years.
V. Big game in Athens this week
I will be on the call for the biggest matchup of the week, South Carolina at Georgia. While Georgia got beat last week by Clemson, this game still shapes up to have implications on this year’s national championship picture. The biggest question for this game is can Georgia solidify the left side of its offensive line, which was annihilated by Clemson’s defense? The Bulldogs even rotated in a couple of different guys, but both struggled. If they don’t fix the left tackle position, Jadeveon Clowney is going to have a monster game and make everyone forget about his lackluster performance last week. The other key for Georgia is getting in more manageable third-down situations. Georgia QB Aaron Murray is a rhythm quarterback. In a traditional tempo offense that does not play ultra-fast like many spread teams do these days, quarterbacks need third-and-four. High-tempo spread teams usually have run-threat quarterbacks who can scramble for a first down on third-and-long when things break down. Also, when you average 85-90 plays a game, there’s more room for bad plays, as they simply don’t hurt you as much. Georgia’s offense averages 65 plays a game. For South Carolina, they must stop Georgia’s ferocious running attack, especially on first and second down. If they can get the Dawgs in third-and-long situations, the Gamecocks can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
– Rocky Boiman
Rocky Boiman is an analyst for WestwoodOne’s coverage of NCAA Football. Each week in “Rocky’s V,” the former Notre Dame captain and Super Bowl champion writes about five topics that have captured his interest from around college football. You can also follow Rocky on Twitter.