COLUMN: Manziel put on a show, OU's defense didn't put up a fight
Evin Morrison, The Oklahoma Daily
77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Postgame Podcast
ARLINGTON, Texas — If OU fans learned anything when the Oklahoma football team’s defense stepped onto the field, it’s that Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is deserving of every accolade and adjective given and that OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ defense is borderline atrocious.
In the Sooners’ 41-13 loss in the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium, Manziel totaled 516 yards — 287 yards passing and 229 yards rushing — and four touchdowns — two passing and two rushing — and made Stoops’ defense look like a “Rookie” mode defense on a video game. OU senior defensive lineman David King even admitted Manziel looked like he was playing the latest version of the NCAA video game.
“(Manziel is) just so difficult to contain,” Stoops said. “We’re not the type of team that can get him with four. You’re in a dilemma pretty much for 60 minutes trying to defend the guy.
“He’s virtually unstoppable.”
OU simply did not have an answer for the Heisman Trophy winner. The only positive play Stoops’ squad can take away is the fact it intercepted Manziel in the end zone in the second quarter.
Other than that, Manziel was on cruise control, especially in the third quarter.
After having a modest first half — 75 passing yards and 113 rushing yards with two touchdowns — Manziel led the Aggies on drives of 91 yards, 89 yards and 71 yards for touchdowns in the third quarter to build a 34-13 lead.
In that quarter, he totaled 231 yards — 168 passing and 63 rushing — and played more like an NFL MVP than a Heisman Trophy winner.
And what’s even scarier about what Manziel did, is that Stoops had about a month to prepare for this.
Stoops and the Sooners knew exactly what Manziel was capable of, but there was hardly a play that fans could feel confident the defense would make a stop.
That prompts Sooner Nation to bring up the question of whom failed the most in what happened in the Cotton Bowl Classic: the players or the coordinator who gets paid $600,000 per year?
Now, everyone knew OU’s defense would take some time to develop under a new coordinator who was not able to bring in and start his own recruits. Everyone knew it would be a work in progress, but more regression occurred than progression throughout the year.
OU junior linebacker Tom Wort said the last four regular season games were a nightmare on defense, and OU coach Bob Stoops echoed the same sentiments following Friday’s loss saying the defense played “poorly” down the stretch.
“We’ve got to make improvements in all areas — run defense, pass defense, pressures, whatever we’re doing,” Bob Stoops said. “But again, some of it, too, our players have got to make some improvements.
“We had guys in position a bunch of times today to make plays, and they didn’t make them.”
Obviously, no position changes are going to be made within the coaching staff — as there shouldn’t be — but the defense is going to continue to go through growing pains until Mike Stoops is able to get his type of defensive players who fit his system.
If after a few years this continues, then some decisions need to be made, but that’s for another day way down the line.
At the end of the day, blame should and needs to be placed on both the players and the coaches, but Manziel is a freak of nature who, more than likely, will become the second person to take home a second Heisman Trophy.
Jono Greco is a journalism graduate student.