November 4, 2012 6:13:28 AM
STARKVILLE - What did we learn?
- Uh....Texas A&M University freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel just put himself in the conversation for the 2012 Heisman Trophy award, given to college football's best player.
Following 693 total yards of offense, 440 of which came from freshman quarterback Manziel, the Davis Wade Stadium crowd that was left at the end saw an emotionally crippling 38-13 loss for its MSU squad.
Manziel, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman quarterback, appeared to toy with the MSU defense at times as the player nicknamed "Johnny Football" silenced the 55,240 fans at Scott Field with a 37-yard run where he ran past, around and even over tacklers to put the No. 16 Aggies up 21-0.
The first of his two touchdown runs, resembled a cartoon character eluding the grasps of several MSU defenders and changing directions multiple times before eventually being all alone in the end zone.
"He's slippery," MSU senior linebacker Cam Lawrence said. "It's hard to contain a guy like that. At times I thought we did a good job of containing, but you let him get out one time and that can be trouble."
Manziel who finished with 440 total yards (311 passing, 129 rushing), ran an attack that averaged 7.1 yards every time he touched the football. Due to A&M's school policy to restrict freshmen from speaking to the media, Manziel was unavailable for comment after the game.
The total yardage piled up by the Aggies offense is the most given up by a Bulldogs team under Mullen by over 100 yards. The last time MSU gave up more than 650 yards was in a 65-39 loss on Oct. 14, 1995.
The first string offense for A&M (7-2, 4-2) has now outscored opponents 87-20 in two road games against Western Division opponents of the Southeastern Conference.
Even when the pocket broke down or MSU's secondary was able to handle the pass routes of the Aggies receivers, Manziel became the equalizer by scrambling around to either earn positive yards or allow for a breakdown in pass coverage.
It's clear Manziel, who came in leading the SEC in rushing, has been given the freedom in Sumlin's wide-open shotgun attack to call his own number any time he wishes. He tested that trust Saturday and it paid off for five touchdowns in the Aggies first seven drives. The only two other possessions where A&M didn't reach the end zone were a made and missed field goal to end a firth half where the Aggies would lead 24-0.
- Saturday afternoon was one of MSU's worst performances at home since Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen took the job in Starkville. MSU (7-2, 3-2) has now been outscored 48-0 in the first half of its back-to-back losses to A&M and last week at No. 1 University of Alabama. Asked why his team has failed to competitive in two of its biggest games of the 2012 season, Mullen had little answers.
"We executed very poorly on offense (and) we didn't execute very well on defense," said the Bulldogs fourth-year head coach. "That's your slow start."
It was a slow start that doomed MSU's chances of rebounding following a confidence-lowering lowering 38-7 loss to Alabama. Mullen is now 1-11 in his last 12 games against ranked opponents and has yet to knock off a ranked team since winning the annual Egg Bowl rivalry game against the University of Mississippi in 2009.
- Tyler Russell got physically pounded again. It was clear the Texas A&M defensive staff watched the beating MSU quarterback Tyler Russell took last week.
The No. 16 Aggies weren't set on duplicating the University of Alabama's performance but with the Crimson Tide next on their schedule, they decided to rise the bar of punishment.
Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 in Southeastern Conference) turned to its pass rushing specialist to set the tome early as junior defensive end Damontre Moore threw Russell to the ground on the first possession of the game.
Despite that play being the only recorded sack by the Aggies, the pressure and pain for Russell along with the rest of the MSU backfield didn't stop. The Aggies defense, which had allowed 33.7 points per game against ranked opponents, slowed down the Bulldogs offense by taking advantage of the fact Russell still has a tendency to hold on
to the ball at the last possible second.
"He just sits there, which is a good thing," Moore said after the game. "It was all about preparation because we knew Russell was a poised quarterback and he doesn't get rattled too easily."
A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said he and his staff noticed a difference in Moore, who came to Starkville leading all defensive players in the SEC in sacks with 10.5, as the junior had been hindered by several nagging injuries.
"You just just tell in pre-game warmups that he was going to have an impact early because he is getting healthier," Sumlin said. "When you start talking about the defenses you call, it's about who you're asking to make big plays in those calls. You have to give your exceptional players a chance to be exactly that, exceptional."
MSU was unable to establish any form of early running game (58 yards on 18 carries) and making the Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2) one dimensional while A&M's offense continued make the deficit hole bigger and bigger for MSU to climb out of.
- The black jerseys really worked as motivation Saturday for A&M. It turns out good guys can wear a black hat too.
The Texas A&M University football program wasn't about to allow Mississippi State University to have all the fun Saturday with their attire. For the first time in more than 80 years, A&M brought out a color that wasn't maroon and white with black jerseys to counter the all-white dress of MSU players.
The A&M staff didn't inform the players about the jerseys until they got off the bus at Davis Wade Stadium and saw what was waiting for them in their locker room Saturday morning. For an early morning kickoff in a game where A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin knew he'd need a fast start from his squad, the nontraditional look served as a
motivating factor for the 16th-ranked Aggies.
"I didn't want to get too caught out of my mindset, but when they first brought the uniforms in there I was screaming and yelling like we had just won a game," A&M junior defensive end Damontre Moore said.
Designed by Adidas, the uniform is a mirror image of the Aggies' usual uniform except with black as the primary colors and maroon trim. The helmet design was a collaborative effort between Riddell and Hydro Graphics Inc., and fades from black to maroon. The lone star logo design on the helmet is a fusion of the school's traditional "TAM" mark within the state of Texas outline, which was unveiled as a part
of the base adidas uniform back in July.
"There were rumors we would have the all-black uniforms at the beginning of the season, so when we didn't get them we were disappointed," Moore said. "When they brought these out they caught us off guard. It was an exciting and over whelming experience."
In its first game against A&M in the Southeastern Conference, MSU was celebrating its 2000 Independence Bowl victory in Shreveport, La., when hours before that game started a snowstorm blew through the area leaving the field covered in all-white.
"With Mississippi State receiving a special exemption to wear white uniforms at home, we were approached by Adidas with an opportunity to do something very exciting and distinctive for this game, without straying too far away from our traditional look," Sumlin said. "I know the players are pumped and ready for this big game, and I think the
recruits will like the new look."
- We learned the MSU run game never got rolling again Saturday as MSU head coach Dan Mullen is now 0-7 since taking the job in Starkville when the Bulldogs fail to rush for 100 yards a team.
- MSU senior wide receiver Chad Bumphis extended his school record with his 19th-career touchdown reception. Bumphis leads all SEC wide receivers this season with seven touchdowns, which is tied for third most in a single season in school history.
- Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's winning streak away from his home field improved to 11 straight -- six at Houston in 2011 and five at A&M in 2012. The win over No. 17 Mississippi State (Associated Press) was the Aggies highest ranked road win since beating No. 11 Texas in Austin, 12-7, in 2006.
- The Aggies scored first against MSU marking the 14th straight game that A&M has scored the initial points of the game. With a 1-yard TD run by Ben Malena on the Aggies' first offensive possession of the game, A&M has now scored a TD on its first drive in six straight games. · A&M has scored on its first drive in seven of nine games in 2012.
What we heard?
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen:
- "We as a team played very poorly today--that's 100 percent my fault. As head football coach, that all falls on my shoulders. In every phase, we played very poorly. I will give them credit; their kids played very well. They have a good football team and they play hard. That was as bad as of a performance that I think we've had here in a long time."
- "We've got to come out and we've got to execute right from the beginning. I can explain it: we didn't execute very well. We did very poorly on offense, and then you combine that with the fact we did not do very well on defense and that's your slow start."
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin:
- "Some of the plays that (Manziel) has made throughout the course of a year are
called and some are improvised. He was able to do some things with his feet on third down particularly because of how the defense was playing him."
- "We're playing with a lot of confidence right now and in order to be successful on the road at the start the way we have, it has to be that way," Sumlin said. "Our guys and coaches understand the importance of preparation in how games like this are swung."
Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore
- "We knew Russell was a poised quarterback and he doesn't get rattled too easily. He just sits there; which is a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes he will stay in there and make an extended play, but if you get a good pass rush and he is still standing there when we are coming its bad thing. It's a mixture of that, preparation and great coaching on our end."
Mississippi State senior cornerback Johnthan Banks
- "It's not Coach Mullen's fault. If he said it's his fault, then it's mine too. He made me captain of the team and it's my job to help him get our team ready, prepared and ready to play."
Mississippi State junior quarterback Tyler Russell
- "We had a good gameplan and we had a good week of practice. it comes down to execution and we didn't execute when we needed to execute."
Texas A&M senior center Patrick Lewis
"There's times where I don't honestly remember after the play is over whether it was a pass call or a run call for him. When he does that it's like everybody is thinking
'we're starting to roll now'."
Louisiana State University (7-2, 3-2 in Southeastern Conference)
Well, the last thing MSU needed was an extremely angry Louisiana State University team seeing the Bulldogs immediately after being 90 seconds away from knocking off No. 1 Alabama at home. Led by embattled quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU (7-2, 3-2) fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to end the contest 24 of 35 for a career-best 298 yards, with 14 of those completions for 202 yards coming over the final two quarters. Mettenberger, who had gotten much of the blame for LSU's lackluster offense, suddenly put it all together for the Tigers in the second half.
The MSU defense has given up 30-plus points in three of its past four games (two losses), and more than 1,000 combined yards in the past two weeks.
The Bulldogs have only defeated the Tigers one time in Baton Rouge, La., since 1987.
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.
1. Photo essay: 'Wizard of Pawz' COMMUNITY
4. Lee's thriller topic of Wednesday's Table Talk ENTERTAINMENT
5. West Point preps for third annual Art Walk ENTERTAINMENT