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Oklahoma football: Johnny Manziel will be OU's greatest challenge from an individual this season

The Sooners have four more weeks to prepare for the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M. The freshman has an electric skill set and versatility.
by Jason Kersey Published: December 9, 2012

NORMAN — When the Cotton Bowl kicks off at 7 p.m. Jan. 4, this Oklahoma team becomes college football's first since Florida in 1993 to play against each of the season's top-three Heisman Trophy finalists.

Third-place finisher and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein conquered Oklahoma on Sept. 22 in Norman. A little over a month later, Heisman runner-up Manti Te'o led Notre Dame's suffocating defense onto Owen Field, where he, too, defeated the Sooners.

Oklahoma has four more weeks to prepare for Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M's freshman quarterback and recently crowned Heisman Trophy winner; Manziel's electric skill-set and versatility — combined with the Sooner defense's struggles against running quarterbacks — make him Oklahoma's greatest challenge from an individual this season.

“The quarterback draw has been problematic for us,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said days before the Sooners' regular-season finale at TCU.

Those problems began taking shape Nov. 10, when Oklahoma beat Baylor but allowed its quarterback, Nick Florence, to uncharacteristically rush for 83 yards and a touchdown.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith only attempted four rushes — receiver-turned-superstar running back Tavon Austin did most of the Mountaineers' ground work — but two fourth-quarter scampers from Smith went for 24 and 17 yards, respectively; OU escaped with a 50-49 win.

Perhaps most surprising, though, was Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf finding room for 63 rushing yards in OU's 51-48, overtime win Nov. 24.

The Sooners were better against the quarterback run against TCU, though; Horned Frogs freshman Trevone Boykin, a known rushing threat, was held in check for most of the Sooners' 24-17 win. He did manage to sneak away for one big, 36-yard gain, though.

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