Oklahoma football: Sooners ready for their introduction to Johnny Football

HEEERE'S JOHNNY — Oklahoma's defense has struggled to contain running quarterbacks this season. On Friday, the Sooners get their chance at stopping Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
by Jason Kersey Published: January 3, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas — Heeeeeeeeere's Johnny!

Ed McMahon introduced Johnny Carson for years with the drawn-out catchphrase on “The Tonight Show,” which happened to feature Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy winner last month.

Although as No. 11 Oklahoma prepares for its Cotton Bowl clash Friday evening at Cowboys Stadium with the No. 9 Aggies and quarterback Johnny Manziel, Jack Nicholson's frightening version of the line in “The Shining” might be more applicable.

The Oklahoma defense struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks and slow spread offenses in late-season shoot-outs. Manziel and No. 9 Texas A&M are on a different level, but Oklahoma's saving grace may turn out to be the month Sooner coaches and players had to get ready.

“He can run you ragged,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “I've never seen anyone improvise and create like he can.”

Manziel became the first freshman Heisman winner by passing for 3,419 yards, rushing for 1,181 more and scoring 43 total touchdowns. Sooners coach Bob Stoops quipped that sometimes, a defense's worst mistake might be to cover all of A&M's receivers, because of Manziel's dangerous ability to escape the pocket and run.

“You've gotta be a little bit more disciplined, a little more under control, and be alert for him to pull it down because this is a guy that's looking to pull it down and run,” said defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright.

Added Mike Stoops, “I don't think you stop him. Nobody's stopped him. I think you try to contain him.”

Easier said than done, of course, and especially for Oklahoma's defense. The Sooners struggled mightily against quarterbacks with running ability; even Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf — not known as a runner — rushed for 63 yards against Oklahoma.

To its credit, Oklahoma improved in its defense of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, a known rushing threat, in the regular-season finale; Boykin still broke off a 36-yard run against the Sooners, though.


by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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