As we make our way toward the end of the 2013 season (*cries*), I found it interesting to look at how the Aggies have progressed on the offensive side of the ball since 2012. Digging through a lot of these statistics makes it even more disappointing and frustrating to think about what could have been this year if we had a better defense. But alas, that's a post for another time. For now, let's jump into some stat comparisons toshow how Kevin Sumlin, Clarence McKinney, and Jake Spavital have developed the Texas A&M offense with Johnny Manziel under center.
Anyone who has objectively watched Johnny Manziel in 2013 and compared his passing in 2013 to what it was in 2012 has seen improvement, with some blips of poor decision-making. Some of those mistakes may have resulted from trying to compensate for a porous defense. Here are how Manziel's numbers from this season stack up against those from last year.
|Year||Games||Attempts||Completions||Completion %||Yards||Yards/Game||TD||INT||Passer Rating|
That is some pretty nice development as a passer from his redshirt freshman to sophomore year. In fact, Johnny's Passer Efficiency Rating in 2013 would rank 7th in NCAA History for a single season (minimum 15 attempts per game). To take that one step further, if this season in Aggieland does turn out to be his last, Johnny's career Passer Efficiency Rating would be 165.10 if this year's number holds up. That would rank him as 6th in Career Passer Efficiency Rating in NCAA History (minimum 500 attempts), behind Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Kellen Moore, Ryan Dinwiddie, and Colt Brennan. Johnny would also rank ahead of every player who has between 325 and 499 completions, including the likes of Troy Smith and Alex Smith.
As a team, the Aggies have averaged 377 passing yards per game up to this point in 2013, up from 316.5 passing yards per game in 2012. This season we have gotten to see more of what the coaches want this offense to be from a passing standpoint since Johnny has done less scrambling/freestyling/JFF-ing.
This is actually one of the most interesting comparisons, at least to me. With Christine Michael graduating, the Aggies added Tra Carson and Brandon Williams in 2013 to go along with returning RBs Ben Malena and Trey Williams. That is a whole lot of talent on the depth chart at RB, and lack of touches has been an area of some frustration for many A&M fans this season. Here's how the stats breakdown from last season to this season. As a quick formatting note, I broke this down into more detail to see how Johnny's rushing stats compared from 2012 to 2013 and then how the rest of the team's stats break down from there. The "All Others" is simply everyone other than Johnny who recorded a rushing attempt, and then I broke down Ben and Trey separately since they are the main returning rushers from 2012. Ben and Trey are included in the "All Others" section.
The first thing that jumps out at me is the difference in Johnny's rushing from 2012 to 2013. This is another thing that shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone who's watched Johnny in the A&M offense this season. There is some disagreement as to whether the pretty significant decrease in Manziel's rushing has been a good thing or a bad thing. Obviously, part of this is balanced out by his increase in passing but there are many (myself included) who have wondered if Johnny has either been "coached out" of some of the plays he made with his legs last year or if he has convinced himself that he shouldn't make those plays to help improve his draft stock.
Trey Williams has fewer than half as many carries as Ben Malena in 2013 despite averaging 50% more yards per carry. Still, there has been a marked increase in productivity from Trey Williams from his freshman to sophomore season. I love Ben Malena, I know he's a leader for the Aggies offensively, and I know he's great in pass protection, but these stats are pretty significant. Mr. McKinney, sir, please give us more Trey Williams.
Since the previous table was already bigger than I wanted it to be, I decided to separate out the 2 newcomers, Tra Carson and Brandon Williams.
Brandon Williams helped himself with a really nice performance this past weekend against Vanderbilt, and Tra Carson has proven to be quite the bulldozer of a back this season. I am extremely interested to see how we use Trey, Tra, and Brandon next season - especially if Johnny does indeed head to the NFL.
Well, this section can be pretty accurately summed up like this: Mike Evans = Beast. There were questions coming into the 2013 season as to how the A&M receiver group would fare without Ryan Swope, EZ Nwachukwu, Thomas Johnson, etc. Mike Evans has essentially answered that question all by himself. The stats really speak for themselves, so let's take a look. Again, another formatting note, I separated Mike Evans out from "All Others" to further illustrate the kind of season he is having. I then pulled Malcome Kennedy's stats out as well, but note that he is included in the "All Others" section.
Again, Mike Evans is really just unfair. He's put up virtually the same number of yards through 8 games in 2013 as he did through 13 games in 2012. He's averaging 70% yards more per reception this season compared to last, and he's more than doubled his touchdown total. There's also this:
WR @MikeEvans13_ needs 7 catches/106 rec. yards/1 TD to match A&M's season records for catches/yards/TDs #UTEPvsTAMU— Brad Marquardt (@bradthejag) October 29, 2013
(EDIT: That number doesn't appear to be accurate for catches - Swope's record is 89, which I don't think Mike will reach. However, Swope's record of 1207 yards is certainly achievable)
Not to mention, the 22.9 yards per reception that Mike is averaging through the first 8 games is not far behind another record. The NCAA record for average yards per reception in a season (minimum 50 receptions) is 24.4 yards, held by Fresno State's Henry Ellard from 1982.
The Aggies have been bolstered by the somewhat surprising contributions of senior Travis Labhart (23-257-1 TD) as well as a nice season so far by another senior in Derel Walker (30-414-2 TD). Sophomore Sabian Holmes is averaging over 10 yards per reception (16-172-1 TD) and true freshman LaQuvionte Gonzalez (10-103- 1 TD) has game-changing speed that the Aggies are still working on how to best utilize.
Other Offensive Stats
One of the first team stats I looked at was 3rd down conversion rate, as I honestly expected the 2013 number to have dropped from 2012. Turns out I was wrong in that assumption. The 2012 team converted on 54.9% of their 3rd downs (107/195) whereas this season the Aggies have been successful on 3rd down 56.1% of the time (55/98). Time of possession has been remarkably similar from last season to this season - in 2012 the Aggie offense had the ball for 28:09 and in 2013 they've possessed it for 28:10.
In 2012, the Aggie offense added its name into the NCAA record book by averaging 559 yards per game, which ranked 21st in NCAA history. The 2013 team is on pace to improve upon that, currently averaging 585 yards per game which would leave them ranked 5th all time in NCAA history. In terms of scoring, A&M averaged 44 points per game - which did not rank in the Top 25 in NCAA records - but this 2013 team has put up an average of 48 points per game, which would rank it 15th in NCAA history. This weekend's game against UTEP may see that number increase even further.
Even if Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans do what most suspect they will do and head to the NFL, the Aggies will still return a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball in 2014. Kenny Hill has shown flashes of his potential under center, and Kyle Allen will come in as a highly ranked freshman. Evans, Labhart, and Walker are the receivers who will be gone next season, but you have Kyrion Parker and Sebastian Larue who still have redshirts this season plus Ricky Seals-Jones who will return from injury. The backfield will be the 3-headed monster of Trey Williams, Tra Carson, and Brandon Williams, and Jake Matthews should be the only departure from the offensive line. Obviously the biggest question will be at quarterback, but whoever earns that job will have numerous weapons to help him succeed.
I will admit that I've been critical of the offense at times this season - it hasn't always felt like they've been in sync, there has been some questionable play calling, and I still want more Trey Williams, but a lot of these stats speak volumes. We are putting up better numbers in virtually all areas offensively than we did last season, and averaging 48 points per game is almost unfair. The scary part of all that is that - at least to me - it feels like the offense can still do better. Let's hope that's the case as we head into the final 4 games of the season, and maybe the young defense can continue to grow up and get enough stops to finish strong.