The go-for-broke, swashbuckling rushing style that quarterback Johnny Manziel has brought to the Texas A&M offense in his 18 career games, one of the very things that has made the Heisman Trophy winner so thrilling to watch, may be toned down for the balance of the season.
That was the inference made by TAMU coach Kevin Sumlin Tuesday in his weekly news conference.
"When he's ran, he's exercised good judgment in sliding or getting out of bounds, which we've asked him to do," Sumlin said, according to transcripts posted at Texags.com. "It's another sign of growing up and protecting the football and not being reckless."
This would represent a turn of style for Manziel, who went through his record-setting freshman season physically unscathed while finishing runs with an every-yard-possible mentality. He rushed for over 1,400 yards to lead the Southeastern Conference, an average of better than 100 per game, but has run for over 100 yards in only one contest this season.
TAMU offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney indicated that Manziel's frequent scrambling leaves less need for designed runs for Manziel in the play calling.
"Sometimes when we call pass plays, they turn into run plays anyway. We didn't have any designed runs for Johnny in the game plan last week and he was OK with that. ... He's going to run the ball whether we have designed runs or not. We want to limit the amount of hits on him."
While Manziel playing with a less-than-reckless running style might be a bit less thrilling for spectators, it's no doubt in Manziel's best interest as an NFL prospect. With expectations set that the charismatic Manziel will turn pro after this season, getting through the schedule uninjured is best for both the Aggies and the third-year sophomore.
Manziel's off-field behaviors and his size are question marks he won't be able to avoid regarding his evaluation as a pro prospect. If he can avoid a thick medical file, as well, his draft status would be better for it.