Source: USA TODAY
BATON ROUGE — For the second time in four months, Johnny Manziel spent a weekend in Louisiana he would like to forget.
In July, the Texas A&M quarterback left the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux a day early following camp absences and tardiness amid a late night trip to New Orleans.
On Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, Manziel’s game went missing again as No. 19 LSU delivered a defensive clinic the likes of which the Heisman Trophy winner had never seen in a 34-10 Tigers’ victory against the No. 10 Aggies in front of 92,949. It was Texas A&M’s largest margin of defeat since a 65-10 loss to Oklahoma in 2009.
Manziel, who entered as a Heisman favorite and No. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency at 186.9 with 3,313 yards and 31 touchdowns on 73 percent passing, finished 16 of 41 for 224 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and saw his chances for the award freeze on a cold night.
“We gave him that one touchdown,” LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson said of Manziel’s 51-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Derel Walker just before the half to cut LSU’s lead to 21-10. Cornerback Tre’Davious White slipped on the play, freeing Walker.
“At halftime, we said, ‘They get no more,’ ” Johnson said.
And they did not.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis masterminded consecutive shutdowns of A&M’s ATM-like offense, which fell to LSU 24-19 a season ago.
“Everybody kept saying this was going to be a shootout,” Johnson said. “We’ve struggled at times this season, but Coach Chavis said it wasn’t going to be no shootout.”
The Aggies (8-3, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) have not scored as few points in a game since a 9-6 win against Nebraska on Nov. 20, 2010. Texas A&M, which entered the game No. 5 in the nation in scoring at 49 points a game, did not score at least 40 points for the first time since beating Alabama 29-24 last season. The Aggies did not reach 20 points for the first time since that 24-19 loss to LSU last season when Manziel struggled, throwing three interceptions and rushing for just 27 yards.
“Ten points, that was amazing,” LSU cornerback Jalen Mills said. “Coming in, they were throwing for 400 or 500 yards every game.”
Manziel, who came in No. 2 in the nation in total offense at 392 yards a game, totaled just 278 yards (224 passing, 54 rushing), marking his first start since the third game of 2012 that he did not surpass 300 yards — a span of 19 consecutive games.
“We could never really get it going,” said Manziel, who was sacked twice. “They kept us guessing, and it really took us awhile to figure it out. They have a very talented defense regardless of how their season’s gone.”
“That’s the kind of LSU defense that we’re used to,” said a delighted LSU coach Les Miles, whose defense has uncharacteristically struggled this season. “The defense rushed and maintained leverage and covered. The secondary covered. They did the things that were reminiscent of a great LSU defense. This is how the Tigers are meant to play.”
LSU (8-3, 4-3 SEC) expertly played to its defense, and according to Miles’ plan, by running for 324 yards on 55 carries to 75 on 18 tries by A&M, destroying the Aggies in time of possession 40:19 to 19:41 and in total yards 517 to 299. Tailback Terrence Magee led all rushers with 149 yards on 13 carries, and tailback Jeremy Hill added 76 yards on 14 rushes. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger just managed the game, completing 11 of 20 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
“We weren’t able to stay on the field, and because of that, our defense got grinded down,” said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who lost by double digits for the first time in his two years with the Aggies. “I felt that they did some things to us defensively. It’s not like LSU played one defense the whole night. They were mixing things up and playing man-to-man, challenging receivers.”
Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, who entered the game No. 2 in the nation with 126.3 receiving yards a game, caught four passes for 51 yards, and fellow receiving threat Malcolm Kennedy left the game in the first half with a neck injury and without a catch.
“Everybody doubted us this whole season,” Johnson said. “Honestly, I was just so proud of our defense. Johnny Manziel is a great football player, but we stopped him.”
LSU put the game away in the third quarter with classic old-fashioned SEC football. The Tigers rushed on seven of nine plays in a 61-yard touchdown drive that took more than six minutes for a 31-10 lead with 2:01 to go in the period. LSU previously took a 24-10 lead on its first possession of the third quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye after moving 71 yards in 13 plays, taking 6:09 off the clock. The Tigers added a 36-yard field goal by Delahoussaye in the fourth quarter for the 34-10 lead.
During a rainy and windy first half, Manziel managed just 8-for-22 passing for 151 yards as the Tigers took a 21-10 lead. Metttenberger completed seven of 11 passes for 133 yards with a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarvis Landry for a 21-3 lead with 1:37 to go before halftime. He hit Landry for a 9-yard touchdown and a 14-0 advantage early in the second quarter.
Magee gained 88 yards on nine carries in the first half and put the Tigers up 7-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:51 to play in the first quarter. Texas A&M’s only other points in the first half came on a 41-yard field goal by Josh Lambo with six minutes to play in the first half.
Texas A&M reached a first and goal at the LSU 10 while down 34-10 at the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but safety Craig Loston intercepted Manziel at the goal line and returned it 26 yards.
“It was just one of those days,” Manziel said.
It was LSU’s day and night as it beat its highest-ranked opponent since defeating No. 3 South Carolina last season.
“They wanted to be challenged. They wanted a challenge against a marquee team,” Miles said.
“I had heard the statement that the LSU defense that beat them last year went to the NFL,” Johnson said. “But we’re still LSU. A lot of guys went to the NFL, but we’ve still got some good football players here. You see who got the W.”
Glenn Guilbeau also writes for the Shreveport Times.
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