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Pre-game Tuesday: Meet MSU's version this week of A&M's 'Johnny Football'



Mississippi State freshman athlete Brandon Holloway (right) is playing the role of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (left) this week in practice.


Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University selected its version of Texas A&M University freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel for the week.  


Freshman athlete Brandon Holloway, a 5-foot-7 and 165-pound prospect from Florida, has been taking snaps from center for the Bulldogs scout team this week in order to give the defense a proper of look of the athletic Aggies quarterback.  


The choice of Holloway is interesting because it shows MSU may be more concerned with what Manziel, the current Southeastern Conference freshman of the week, can with his feet and not so much with his arm in the passing game.  


"I don't think he's ever played quarterback in his life," MSU senior cornerback Johnthan Banks said Tuesday after practice. "He's a 4.2 (in the 40-yard-dash) guy so he's giving us a great look. (Manziel) is an athlete playing quarterback." 


Holloway, the 42nd rated athlete in the country according to Rivals.com, ran for 904 yards and 10 touchdowns on 134 carries his senior campaign at Alonso High School in Tampa, while also catching 19 passes for 304 yards and seven touchdowns.  


Last week Manziel ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more in a little more than a half of play as the Aggies beat a struggling Auburn University team 63-21 Saturday. On eight possessions led by Manziel, A&M scored seven touchdowns. The only non-scoring drive run by the phenom nicknamed "Johnny Football" ended with a missed 48-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet on the final play of the first half. The Aggies gained 671 total yards, the most ever allowed by Auburn, in their first game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Texas A&M, in its first season in the SEC, led 42-7 at halftime and 49-7 after Manziel's final possession. 


"Every one of these games is new to these guys," A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "I think last week was a prime example of being exited to play. The newness of this, in a way, has helped us because we're going to places that we've never been and our guys are excited to go there." 


Manziel took over the SEC's lead in rushing last week from MSU junior tailback LaDarius Perkins at 99.1 yards per game and that statistic caught the eye of many MSU defensive players this week. It's the hope that Holloway's speed and athleticism will give the MSU defense, which has allowed just two plays of 40 yards or more this season, a proper look when Manziel decides to scramble around to extend passing plays with his feet.  


"Any time you have a quarterback leading the SEC in rushing - the biggest knock down, drag out league in the nation, then you have to prepare yourself for a one great, impressive athlete back there," Broomfield said. 


I'll have more this week in a feature for The Dispatch as MSU may plan to revert back to its 2011 Gator Bowl philosophy when they faced University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in a 52-14 win in Jacksonville.  




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage. 




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