by Travis Normand
Are you still not convinced that Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel deserves to win the Heisman? Well if you aren’t convinced by his performance at quarterback this season, then maybe you should take a look at his performance on defense. What? Manziel plays on offense, defense, and special teams? Of course! Okay, not exactly.
Take a look at the following play which occurred against Louisiana Tech on October 13, 2012. Johnny was in as an offensive player, but due to a fumble by A&M’s Christine Michael, the entire Aggie offense was suddenly playing defense.
The play is a direct-snap to A&M running back Christine Michael who attempts to run the ball right up the middle. As Michael approaches the goal line, his running lane becomes congested and he is tackled before crossing the goal line. He can be seen getting tackled, turned around to face the wrong direction, and still trying to fall towards the goal line. In doing so, Michael stretches the ball up over his head and reaches for the goal line in an attempt to score before being ruled down. It is at this point that we lose visual on MIchael as he is swallowed by a pile of Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech players.
Moments later, Louisiana Tech’s number 43 comes racing out of the pile carrying the ball and heading 99 yards towards the opposite end zone. We can only assume that Michael lost control of the ball before he was down and 43 somehow ended up with it.
As you watch 43 begin to run towards the opposite end zone, it is clear that there is not a Texas A&M player in position to stop him and it is most surely a touchdown for Louisiana Tech. However, Johnny Manziel appears from the bottom of the screen around the 10-yard line and is in hot pursuit of number 43. Manziel had moved out to wide receiver for this play, as it was a direct snap to the running back.
There is actually a Louisiana Tech player (number 27) in perfect position to block Manziel from making the tackle on 43, and he attempts to do so. Despite 27’s perfect position on Manziel, Manziel engages the defender and is able to shove him out of the way. Manziel then shows off his speed by chasing down number 43 (who is still carrying the ball) and manages to strip the football from his grasp, causing him to fumble it. Of course, Johnny Manziel accomplishes all of this before number 43 reaches the 50-yard line.
The fumbled ball takes a forward bounce and Louisiana Tech player number 34 is able to grab it and continue running. Johnny Manziel wastes no time chasing this second player down and tackling him around the Louisiana Tech 30-yard line.
That’s right, Manziel chases down two players, causes one to fumble the ball and then tackles the other, all in one play (and in less than 60 yards). If that isn’t a great defensive performance by a guy who wouldn’t give up on the play, then I don’t know what is.
*Note: Chrisine Michael was ruled down by the officials at the one yard line and thus his fumble didn’t count. The Aggies scored two plays later when Manziel ran the ball into the end zone from two yards out.