Redemption in College Station: Alabama wins a shootout against A&M
The biggest question coming in: could Nick Saban's defense have an answer for Johnny Football? In short, it didn't, as Manziel amassed 562 total yards and led the Aggies to 42 points.
What we learned is that A&M may actually need a 12th man on the field if they intend to stop any offense from moving the ball at will and scoring.
Luckily for A&M, I'm not sure if any defense will be able to stop them; Manziel really is that good. Even people who can't stand him had to be impressed with his effort in this game. However, the difference in the football game was simple: A&M turned the ball over one more time than Bama did.
That key turnover came in the second quarter inside the 5-yard line, when Manziel made a critical error by badly overthrowing a fade route in the end zone. Not to mention that essentially the entire game the mismatch of the day was A&M stud receiver Mike Evans on any Bama defensive back.
Yet on that particular play Johnny Football opted to go to the other side of the field.
Play calling always comes into question when watching any football game. Mike Evans, who caught seven balls for 279 yards, including a 95-yard TD reception, looked like he will be playing on Sundays. How often do you see any offensive player (not named Manziel) just dominate a Nick Saban defense the way Evans did? Unfathomably, Evans was not the target inside the 5.
Manziel's second interception came on a great defensive play by Jarrick Williams, which resulted in one of the more impressive returns for a TD you may ever see. Vinnie Sunseri was determined to get into the end zone, and even made Manziel whiff on a tackle in the process.
A&M jumped out early to a 14-0 lead. It was very reminiscent to last year's start. However, this time Alabama didn't wait until being down 20-0 to respond. AJ McCarron led the Crimson Tide right down the field, making it look just as easy as Manziel did on the Bama defense.
It's hard to to determine how significant a drive that was, considering it was still the first quarter. It just seemed bigger than the seven points at the time. McCarron stopped the bleeding, while opening up a wound in the Aggies' defense. A wound that would turn into a gash, as Bama scored 28 unanswered offensive points.
Now if you didn't see this game, it's easy to look at the box score and question my trashing of the A&M defense while giving Bama's a pass. Bama's defense did get burned multiple times, no doubt about it. The difference being, once Bama's offense got started, the Aggies' had zero answers.
Forget about the 12th man in college station; there were plays in which I wasn't sure if A&M had 11 players on the field. Conversely, the Tide did get stops along the way, and came away with the two game-changing interceptions.
As Bama went up and down the field with a furious passing and rushing attack, it made me wonder a few things: Did Saban hide some things in the game against Virginia Tech? Could they have possibly fixed all their problems with the offensive line in the bye week? Or is the A&M defense just that bad? I'm leaning towards the latter but believe the former is plausible.
The funny part about this win is that I'm sure Saban is still livid his defense couldn't do a better job against Manziel, albeit getting much needed redemption on the scoreboard. Keep in mind that in last year's game, despite Manziel's breakout national TV performance, Bama still had a chance to win in the end.
This year, A.J. McCarron added to his college football legacy by playing a flawless game—something the Heisman Trophy winner could not do.