November 5, 2013 10:45:36 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen sounded Monday like a he was the host of a game show when trying to describe defending Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Essentially on every play, defenses have to choose between two doors and a mystery box when playing against the defending Heisman Trophy winner.
Door No. 1 is dealing with Manziel, the Southeastern Conference's leading passer at 318.6 yards per game, who is completing 72.5 percent of his attempts. Door No. 2 is trying to stop the 13th best runner in the SEC and second-most prolific running quarterback in the league at 24 rushes of 10 yards or more.
Then there's what's inside the mystery box.
Defenses can't predict what they will get if that is their selection because nobody knows what is going to happen when Manziel, who averages 9.22 yards per play as the leader in total offense in the SEC, improvises.
"There is a little bit of everything," Mullen said Monday in his media conference at the Seal Family Football Complex.
On the road to winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy, Manziel had 440 total yards (311 passing, 57 rushing) and two touchdowns in a 38-13 victory against MSU in Davis Wade Stadium.
"We went from playing the best defensive player in the country (South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney) to this week playing probably the best offensive player in the country," Mullen said.
Manziel threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more in less than three quarters in then-No. 12 Texas A&M's 57-7 victory against UTEP last weekend.
Manziel threw touchdown passes of 44, 15, 17, and 26 yards and had scoring runs of 10 and 49 yards before being taken out of the game with 7 minutes, 39 seconds left in the third quarter. Manziel has 33 touchdowns this season, including 25 passing.
Saturday's game will be the final home game of the season for Texas A&M (7-2, 3-2 SEC), which means it could be the last home game of Manziel's career.
MSU kicker, punter will continue to be determined on weekly practice
Those who thought the kicker and punter debates at MSU were done after Saturday's solid performances from sophomore punter Devon Bell and redshirt freshman Evan Sobiesk can think again.
When asked Monday why he made the change at kicker and punter, Mullen didn't elaborate and suggested the battle would continue to be determined by practice reports between Bell, Sobiesk, and senior punter Baker Swedenburg.
"I like being successful," Mullen said. "I like big, long punts with great hang time, I like field goals that go through the uprights and kickoffs that go through the back of the end zone. If that's the recipe for it, than that's what we do, but we always evaluate practice."
On Saturday, MSU went with Evan Sobiesk as kicker. The redshirt freshman walk-on connected on a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter of a 34-16 loss at South Carolina. It was the first made field goal for MSU since Bell made a 22-yarder against LSU. Bell is 5 of 11 on field goals this season. Mullen said he made the change based on practice report notes between Sobiesk and Bell.
"(Sobiesk) won the field-goal battle in practice," Mullen said after the South Carolina game. "We chart it every week, and Sobiesk was better in practice, so he won the job."
Alabama-MSU game time still unknown due to CBS using six-day decision window
MSU fans will have to wait to find out what time the two-time defending national champions will play next week to Davis Wade Stadium.
CBS, which has first selection on all SEC games, has chosen to use its six-day selection window to determine which Nov. 16 game it wants to air at 2:30 p.m.
The network will decide no later than Sunday between Georgia at No. 7 Auburn and Florida at No. 13 South Carolina. ESPN will select the remaining game for 6 p.m. on ESPN2 or 6:45 on ESPN. Alabama's game at MSU will air on ESPN or ESPN2.
Troy will play at 11 a.m. at Ole Miss (WCBI), and Kentucky at Vanderbilt will play at 11:21 a.m. (SEC Network).
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.