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October 14, 2013
AUBURN | Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson discusses the greatness of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and how Auburn can attempt to stop the powerful Aggies offense.
JOHNSON: "Anytime you have the kind of production he has, there's a lot of things. You can't just point to one or two things. The things I think that really separate him, he obviously has great mobility, but the thing that makes him extremely difficult is on top of that mobility he has a lot of vision when he's scrambling. He sees a lot of stuff down the field. You're trying to run him down, and maybe your front guys can't catch him, and you don't know when to come out of coverage. Do you pull the trigger and come get him now, or do you say back here because this guy's going to be wondering open and he can find him?
"That's the thing that I think is so hard. If you got a fast guy, you put some more fast guys on the field, but at the same time when he's moving around back there, he has tremendous vision downfield. He's got great accuracy too. Sometimes he'll get aggressive on some throws and take some chances but more time than not he gets away with it because he's got great location and velocity on the ball.
"Sometimes you take that approach. I really don't know how we do that. They're so balanced, if you try to take one element away, I really think the other element is going to beat yo just as bad. What you have to do, anytime you have a team like them, that has good players at every spot, you have to get it out of your mind that you're going to stop them. You have to disrupt them, you have to slow them down, you have to get some takeaways, you have to play really good in the red zone. When the spread offenses came along, I was talking to a coach that ran it, and he wanted to know what he should be evaluating his defensive coordinator on, and I said, 'Well, as long as you're going to run that type of offense, you better evaluate it on takeaways, red zone defense, and explosive gains. In other words, eliminating big plays. Because they're never going to stop anybody, as long as you keep running that offense, because there's no physicality on the other side.
"So the problem with these offenses is, when you get great players in them, it's like the Wishbones of the 70's that used to put up 70 points. You can't stop them. You've got to find a way to disrupt them. You've got to take away the explosive plays, you've got to get a negative-yardage play, and have a way to get off the field the next play. You've got to get a turnover. You've got to play great down in the red zone. That's the only way you're going to manage the points."