Sooners look to contain Manziel

ARLINGTON, Texas — Tonight when No. 11 Oklahoma takes on No. 9 Texas A&M at 7:10 p.m. in the 77th annual Cotton Bowl Classic, all eyes will be centered on freshman Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Justifiably so, too. The 6-foot-1-inch gunslinger compiled 4,600 total yards during the regular season—3,419 through the air and another 1,181 on the ground. His combination of touch passing and helter-skelter rushing style led the Aggies to a 10-2 regular season, a four-game improvement from a season ago.

The Kerrville, Texas, native's finest moment came in reeling off 345 yards of total offense against Alabama, toppling the then-No. 1 Crimson Tide. With Manziel's big-play capability both rushing and throwing, the OU coaching staff has had a heck of a time figuring out just how to shut the A&M offense down.

This week, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops described some of the many things Manziel does well.

"I think he's a better runner, but he's a better passer on the run than anybody we've seen. So, the drop back game will come as he finds space to throw, as he gets older and matures," said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "You know, they throw the ball to the perimeter probably more than anybody else. Those are throws that he likes to throw and he can throw to spaces on the field, and so they do a nice job setting their offense up with what [he can do].

"Any good offense can do what your quarterback does well, and that's how they scheme and their offense: to what he does well."

Senior defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland may have summarized Manziel's game in the best fashion, though.

"This is like trying to catch a chicken. I'm country. You gotta pin him in. You can't let him get out wide because he's going to outrun you. With him, I feel like he's so versatile you can send everybody but then he can throw as well," McFarland said. "We need to get this win. The best way to do it is to stay in front of him."

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