Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and links.
Injuries are a major concern for all college football teams this fall, so the University of Alabama will have to take precautionary measures to avoid a collective case of team whiplash this week. The sudden head spin could be caused by having to switch for a game against a tough, physical LSU team to the fast-paced, no-huddle high-scoring offense of Texas A&M. The Aggies aren't quite Oregon in Kevin Sumlin's first season as head coach but they are close as the Crimson Tide will come unless they meet the Ducks in Miami. Texas A&M - especially its amazing young quarterback, Johnny Manziel, are the fastest show in the league when they have the ball, and the Aggies catch Alabama at its most bumped-and-bruised in the wake of a 60-minute street fight in Baton Rouge. It isn't a perfect schedule spot for the Aggies either, since they will be making their third straight road trip into the Deep South in three weeks. But travel fatigue isn't likely to slow them down. The SEC's tougher defenses (Florida and LSU) have been tougher sledding for A&M, but in the past two weeks, in Auburn and Starkville, they have put 101 points and a staggering 1,364 yards of total offense.
And now, here's Johnny. Johnny Football, that. Also known as Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M's dynamic freshman quarterback. At 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, he will test an Alabama defense that is coming off its worst game of the season but still ranks first in the nation in scoring defense (9.11 ppg), second in total defense (228.89 yards per game), second in rushing defense (66.33) and eighth in passing defense (162.56). Manziel ranks first in the Southeastern Conference and second in the nation in total offense (383.22 yards per game).
Asked if he planned anything different this week in preparation for the Alabama showdown, Sumlin shrugged. "We'll approach this week the same way we've approached every week this season," he said. A&M, in its first season in the Southeastern Conference, has won its first two of a three-game SEC road swing at Auburn and then-No. 15 Mississippi State by the lopsided scores of 63-21 and 38-13. "This is the second week in a row we were able to make the fans leave early," Stewart said. The Aggies know that's not likely to happen this Saturday, but they vow they're not intimidated by the crimson in one of the game's most storied venues. "They're a big-time team, and we have to play big time to beat them," A&M linebacker Sean Porter said. "(But) we put on our pants just like they do, so we're not going to treat them any different than we do anybody else."
With the Heisman race a bit of a jumble, especially after Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was injured in a victory over Oklahoma State, McCarron is moving up the charts with a bullet. He is the nation’s third-rated passer, just behind Klein and Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, with 19 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. McCarron extended his school-record streak without a pick to 289 passes. His father, Tony McCarron, called that final possession the sort of signature moment that defines every Heisman winner. "You know how they always say you have to have one?" the elder McCarron said. "There it is."
Alabama is atop the BCS Standings for the fourth straight week and the 10th time in school history. That ties the Crimson Tide with LSU for the fourth-most weeks at No. 1 in the BCS.
McCarron, the team’s emotional leader, was moved to tears on the sideline after the Tide went back in front. "Every type emotion you can imagine," McCarron told ESPN as he described what he was feeling after the game. "I mean, it is just truly a blessing – and none of this would be possible without my teammates. They played a fantastic game." T.J. Yeldon, whose red zone fumble late in the third quarter led to the go-ahead score by LSU, caught a 28-yard screen pass from McCarron in the left flat. Yeldon turned it into a touchdown with 51 seconds remaining. "You can’t say enough about him, especially after (the fumble)," McCarron said of the true freshman running back. "A lot of freshmen would have went in the hole right there. He bounced back and we had all the faith in him."