Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scrambles with the football against LSU earlier this season. (Photo by Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle, AP)
When the 2012 Texas A&M offense is mentioned, Johnny Manziel's name is brought up in the same breath.
The redshirt freshman quarterback has proven that he can get the job done in the air or on the ground.
"He is an athlete playing quarterback," safety Corey Broomfield and cornerback Johnthan Banks both said.
The No. 17 (Associated Press) Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1) will see how good Manziel is when the No. 16 (Associated Press) Texas A&M Aggies (6-2, 3-2) come to Starkville Saturday for an 11 a.m. kickoff.
Manziel leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing with 793 yards. He is averaging just under 100 yards per game. He has also scored 13 times on the ground.
"Whenever you have a quarterback that is leading the power conference of all college football in rushing, you have to look out for them," Broomfield said. "They have a lot of other good backs. You can't just key on him because he'll hand it off."
Manziel has also proven he can throw the ball. He has completed 173-of-269 passes this season for 2,216 yards. He also has 16 touchdowns.
(Manziel) has tremendous athletic ability but you watch him and he's a very accurate passer on top of that," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. "He doesn't have, maybe, the size and the prototypical big arm as an NFL look, but his athleticism makes up for it. The fact that he is very accurate in his passes also helps. You've got to go defend the pass and when you go out there and everybody is defending the pass, that's when he becomes more dangerous."
The Bulldogs have been using true freshman Brandon Holloway as the quarterback for the scout team.
"He has been giving us a good look as far as how (Manziel) runs and does his thing," sophomore linebacker Matthew Wells said.
The Bulldogs have faced similar players to Manziel. In the 2011 Gator Bowl, the Bulldogs faced Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
"We played Denard Robinson about two years ago," Broomfield said. "Coach came up with a great game plan. He reminds me of him a lot. A guy that run and can throw. It is nothing we haven't seen before."
In that same football season, the Bulldogs faced Auburn's Cam Newton. Newton and Manziel have somewhat similar games, but there is a big difference in size.
"If guys want to say Cam (Newton), you know Cam's 6-6," MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. "He's Cam Newton, he's freakish. Manziel's his own guy, a really talented guy both in the run game and the pass game. The biggest thing you like is he's a competitor. He's fun, (and) he's out there competing the whole game. He's created his own identity."
Containing him seems to be the most common phrase used by the MSU defensive players.
"(He's a) really good football player," Banks said. "He makes stuff happen for the team and we are going to have to try to contain him.
"We are going to go flying after him. We are going to try to get after him pretty good. We are going to try to make him go fast."
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