SHREVEPORT, La. -- So this is progress?
Only at No. 22 Texas A&M, which lost five games last season in which it held a double-digit lead, might turning a 27-0 late-second-quarter lead over No. 23 Louisiana Tech into a 59-57 victory be viewed as a step forward. That's because twice in the fourth quarter, the second time with :38 to play, the Bulldogs lined up for a two-point conversion to tie the game.
The Aggies stopped both plays and escaped with their record (5-1) intact. Head coach Kevin Sumlin said all the things that coaches say after they win, but he looked and sounded more exhausted than happy. It was that kind of win.
"There are some things in that locker room right now," Sumlin said. "We're happy we won but we're not overjoyed. We know that we played a good football team but we can play better. There are some things that we've got to clean up. We'll get that done this week."
Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel broke the Southeastern Conference total offense record of 557 yards that he set two weeks ago against Arkansas. Manziel completed 24-of-40 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 181 yards and another three touchdowns. And he played nearly the entire game without his best receiver, senior Ryan Swope, who took a blow to the head in the first quarter and never returned.
Blocking break down? Defense blitzing? Manziel looks as ruffled as James Bond straightening his shirt cuffs. He either runs away from the defenders or swivels his hips through them.
For Ivan Maisel's full column, click here.