Mitchell: TAMU A Step Ahead
Posted Jan 4, 2013

Johnny Manziel doesn't look elusive. He doesn't look athletic. He doesn't look fast. Yet he's all three...and they were all on fine display at the 2013 Cotton Bowl

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

IRVING, Texas -- In a night where Cotton Bowl records fell by the wayside faster than a promise in Congress, Texas A&M served notice to all of college football - not merely the SEC - that 2013 will be about "young man" football. Hi-tempo football.

Aggie football.

Oregon might be the high-profile pioneer of this modern version of pitch-and-catch. But with Chip Kelly running to the National Football League faster than you can say Pete Carroll, and a bevy of sanctions about to be the only thing to truly slow down the Ducks, Sumlin's hi-octane offense is likely the new flag bearer.

The first half was a competitive 14-13 brawl, which saw Oklahoma and TAMU combine for 508 yards, and OU quarterback Landry Jones set Cotton Bowl records for completions (23) and attempts.

However, the only thing explosive about the Sooners' second half Thursday were the cannons they fired off after anything, even opposing kickoffs, and even down 41-13...virtually announcing after each Aggie touchdown just how inept the Sooners had become on both sides of the ball.

It seemed Oklahoma's offense hit the showers and forgot to return for the second half.

A&M made few offensive adjustments after the break; its runaway second half had as much to do with its defense as any changes made by offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney. After not having to punt the entire first half, the Sooners began the third period with three consecutive three-and-outs. Three Aggie touchdowns later and the game was all but over.

The Aggies did switch to a 3-4 defense at times in the second half, which seemed to give the Sooners fits. However, star defensive end Damontre Moore believed the more important facet to the second half trouncing was TAMU's defense simply getting back "into the flow of things".

Time of Possession is immaterial in Sumlin's offense - he preaches as much. It's counterintuitive, but as a result of his aggressive offense, his defense often spend more time on the field. Such was the case in the Cotton Bowl - Oklahoma had nearly 14 more minutes of possession, yet was still outscored by four touchdowns.

That extra clock puts a strain on the defensive in terms of more playing time - particularly its front line. As a result, the essence of TAMU's offense places as much a demand for execution on its offensive unit as on its defense. Moore believes that once the rust from the extended postseason break wore off, the defense's execution improved.

As for the Aggies, they didn't have a three-and-out of their own until the fourth quarter, long after the suspense had slipped out of this extravagant stadium. Johnny Manziel would go on to set a number of records, including more than 5,000 total yards for the season.

It certainly didn't hurt that Oklahoma elected not to actively pressure Manziel in the pocket all night, preferring instead to fill running lanes in the hope of containing the elusive Heisman winner. With little success.

Manziel doesn't look elusive. He doesn't look athletic. He doesn't look fast. Yet he's all three.

Like many coaches, Sumlin insists his team got better each and every week. After watching them for a final time this season, it's certainly tough to argue with the finished product.