The Texas A&M Aggies survived without Johnny Manziel for one half on Aug. 31. According to the stats, the Aggies thrived either way with a 52-31 win over the Rice Owls, in which Manziel threw for three touchdowns in his one half. Yet beyond the stats, it was an ugly day for the Aggies thanks to Manziel and their defense -- two things that could cripple them later this season.
The worst fears about life without Manziel seemed to come true in the first half for Texas A&M. The Aggies quickly fell behind by 14-7 and only led the Owls by 28-21 at halftime. While backup quarterback Matt Joeckel went 14-for-19 with a touchdown, his defense looked too paper thin at times.
But like usual, everything else was overshadowed when Manziel finally took the field. Technically, it didn’t look like he had to do much, as he only threw eight times and ran just six times for 19 yards. But half of his six completions were for touchdowns, which helped to finally put the Owls away.
However, Manziel didn’t get to finish the second half anyway, due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he received after his final touchdown. He had already gotten away with pretending to sign an autograph for a Rice defender after a tackle -- an act which Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin claimed not to see. Yet when he saw Manziel get flagged 15 yards for pointing at the scoreboard after his last touchdown, he was benched the rest of the game.
Of course, Manziel was benched after wrapping up a blowout win over Rice, which is on par for sitting him for the first half against a massive underdog. If he was benched or suspended for games like the one against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 14, it might be the wakeup call he and the Aggies need to save themselves at this rate. But Texas A&M and the NCAA already went above and beyond to keep him active for that game.
With Manziel’s still problematic attitude, and the fact the Aggies gave up over 500 yards of offense, the game was troubling for Texas A&M in every way but the final score. Yet that might not always be enough to bail the Aggies and their Heisman Trophy winner out after all.