Texas A&M football coach says Manziel must ‘think like a coach’ to improve this season

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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In previous coaching stops, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin has been around multiple underclassmen who returned after winning prestigious conference or national awards.

The list includes Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, OU running back Adrian Peterson, Houston quarterback Case Keenum and Purdue quarterback Drew Brees. Sumlin said Wednesday those experiences helped him devise a blueprint for eliciting improvement from quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner who will be a sophomore this season. The key, said Sumlin, is to make Manziel focus on his weaknesses, rather than his strengths, as a player.

“In Johnny’s case, his challenge is to get a much better feel for our overall package and to think like a coach on the field,” Sumlin said. “To be able to anticipate and see the game for what it really is. The idea is to move him from an athlete that’s playing quarterback to a quarterback that’s an athlete.”

The more rapidly that Manziel can make strides in that area, the sooner A&M can get maximum production out of first-year receivers and running backs expected to contribute this season.

“We want him to be able to help really mold our offense to what we can do quickly, instead of it taking four, five, six weeks to really get a feel for what’s happening,” Sumlin said.

Twitter shy

Johnny Manziel maintains an active Twitter account that lists 387,374 followers. Until Wednesday, Manziel had gone 31 days since his most recent tweet, a photo from a fishing trip with offensive tackle Jake Matthews and other teammates.

Manziel broke the streak Wednesday afternoon by retweeting a post from his rapper friend Drake (@Drake), who praised Manziel’s performance at the SEC media days. But Manziel remains below the social media radar by his previous standards after a recent conversation with Kevin Sumlin.

Sumlin said Wednesday the two had a lengthy discussion following a tweet Manziel posted last month, then deleted, after his car was ticketed by College Station police.

“The ability to deal with social media, it’s instant,” Sumlin said. “We have discussions all the time. People, if they take a picture and tweet individually, it becomes newsworthy. That’s something that young people need to continue to understand … Different people get things at different times.”

Asked about lessons learned in the past year, Manziel said: “I used to be a person that watched ESPN all day, every day. I shy away from it now, articles and things on Twitter. I try to shy away from it.”

Jones brings energy

Tennessee offensive lineman Ja’Waun James said first-year coach Butch Jones, who spent last year at Cincinnati, has energized players since replacing the fired Derek Dooley, now the Dallas Cowboys’ receivers coach.

“He’s brought passion and excitement to the game. He’s making things fun again,” James said.

Uptempo Auburn

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, the offensive coordinator on the Tigers’ 2010 national championship team, has a simple goal in his first season as the school’s head football coach.

“Our goal is to play faster than anybody in college football,” Malzahn said. “We will run our offense at a two-minute pace the entire game.”

Malzahn, who won a conference title last season at Arkansas State, said he is unsettled about his starting quarterback and will enter fall drills looking at four candidates.

Leaning on Cal

Mark Stoops, the first-year Kentucky coach, cited Wildcats basketball coach John Calipari as someone who has helped him adjust to life in Lexington, Ky. He also said Calipari has been an asset in recruiting because most recruits are basketball fans.

“We bring recruits in. He visits with them,” Stoops said. “He’s really embracing of myself and the staff. So I love it. He’s so charismatic.”

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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