PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

January 3, 2013

Cotton Bowl: A&M is SEC team with Big 12 offense

ARLINGTON —  It may not be the most ideal matchup of Big 12 rivals, but tonight’s 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl may just be the second-most compelling bowl game behind the national championship game.

It features a rematch of former Big 12 rivals in No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 11 Oklahoma. It features the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and an OU QB in Landry Jones who was supposed to be a Heisman finalist in his senior season.

It’s a return to familiar territory for A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC), as the Aggies make their 13th trip to the Cotton Bowl, after spending a year of firsts in the Southeastern Conference. For Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1 Big 12), it’s a chance to redeem itself with a victory over one of the three Heisman finalists, after the Sooners lost to Collin Klein and Kansas State and Manti Te’o and Notre Dame.

It’s hard to believe that Manziel wasn’t even named the starter until two weeks before the season. Even Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin admitted he didn’t know exactly what he had in Manziel until the season got going.

“I don’t think in the spring, we had any idea,” Sumlin said. “We talked to him in the spring about taking care of the ball. He is obviously very talented, but there were a lot of things he needed to work on from a ball security standpoint. He continued to work through that in the summer and through two-a-days.

“You never really know, especially with a freshman with so many moving parts going into a game. But the first game, that being a (College) Game Day like atmosphere, with everybody there, playing Florida, how he responded early in that game you had to feel like he had a chance to be a good player.”

The biggest impact first-year head coach Sumlin had was on the Aggies offense. Manziel, nicknamed Johnny Football during the season, became the fifth player in NCAA history to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. He joins a venerable group that includes former Texas standout Vince Young, Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour, Nevada’s Colin Kapernick and Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish. All five hit the mark since 2005.

But, Manziel wasn’t the only part of the Texas A&M offense that exploded, as redshirt freshman receiver Mike Evans had 75 catches for 1,022 yards and five TDs while running back Ben Malena had 752 rushing yards and seven TDs.

For OU head coach Bob Stoops, that offense was vintage Big 12.

“I think it’s been quite obvious to everyone that they brought a Big 12 offense to the SEC and have lit it up,” Stoops said. “They are third in total offense, also third in scoring offense. The way they have spread it out, they’ve handled those SEC defenses fairly well.

“In the end, this is what you notice: Johnny Manziel, the spread attack, no huddle, throwing the football around and Johnny pulling it down and running it when he doesn’t like what he sees. It is a challenge.”

Oklahoma is in the midst of what some have called a “disappointing” season. If only every coach could have their disappointments be as good as Stoops. The Sooners are poised to win an 11th game after claiming a share of their eighth Big 12 championship.

The disappointments came early, when Oklahoma lost at home to a ranked team (KSU) for the first time 14 consecutive games under Stoops. Oklahoma lost again later in the season to No. 5 Notre Dame. It’s the first time OU has lost two or more home games in a season since 1998.

OU managed to win its last five games of the season, though, including late-game heroics against both West Virginia and Oklahoma State while holding off TCU and Baylor.

The Sooners also have a positive, albeit brief history at the Cotton Bowl, having won their only appearance back in 2002, an 10-3 victory over Arkansas. For the Sooners, a second victory in the Cotton Bowl could redeem the season. For the Aggies, would a loss take away some of the luster of this season?

“We aren’t too focused about what people say,” Manziel said. “We have had a great year. A bowl game is a time where you come have fun. You come enjoy all the things they put out. You come to have dinner and get to be in Cowboy Stadium. You get to have fun. That is what people don’t get. Football is a game of fun.”

The Aggies have had a different relationship with the Cotton Bowl. A&M hasn’t won there since 1988 and has lost six straight. The Aggies are 4-8 all-time at the Cotton Bowl.

More than that, A&M has only won two bowl games in the last 20 years. The last time A&M had a reigning Heisman Trophy winner in a bowl game was in 1957 with John David Crow. A&M lost in the Gator Bowl to Tennessee 3-0 in Bear Bryant’s final game coaching the Aggies.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

  • MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0

    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

    July 19, 2014

  • Up the odds for solid bank fishing

    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

    July 19, 2014

  • Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl

    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

    July 19, 2014

  • West column: Pacers hiring Pat Knight didn't help Lamar

    July 19, 2014

  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

    July 15, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog