Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Manziel made strong impressions against Alabama

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: April 21, 2014 - 7:32 AM

In case you didn’t pick up Sunday’s newspaper or read it on some newfangled electronic device, we went all in on the quarterback position (something the Vikings could do in a couple of weeks).

Master Tesfatsion put his Kiper wig on and ranked his top 10 quarterback prospects. Mark Craig talked to one defensive coach who had to game-plan for Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater in back-to-back weeks. And I took a look at the draft’s most polarizing player, Johnny Football.

As I mentioned in the story, Manziel’s performance in Texas A&M’s upset victory at Alabama in 2012 was the game that made him a household name. But for some, it was his play the next time that Texas A&M played Alabama that solidified Manziel as a first-round prospect.

Someone I sought out for the story was Phil Savage, the former Cleveland Browns general manager who is now the executive director of the Senior Bowl. He also does color commentary on the Crimson Tide’s radio broadcasts, so he had a bird’s eye view for both of those games. During our phone conversation, Savage was surprised by how much Manziel grew from the first time he played Alabama to the second, a game that Texas A&M lost.

“I spent a good amount of time in advance of the rematch game studying him,” Savage said. “I would say that a year ago, I was very much a downer in terms of his future NFL prospects. But after watching the vast majority of his tape and seeing what he did against Alabama in the rematch game, it was actually one of the few times when a quarterback actually exceeded the first time around against a Nick Saban-coached defense.”

Savage said the last time he could remember that happening was Drew Brees, when he was the quarterback at Purdue and Saban was the head coach at Michigan State. In 1998, Brees tossed two fourth-quarter touchdowns as Purdue rallied to beat Michigan State by a point. A year later, Brees exploded for 509 passing yards and five touchdowns in another win.

Manziel's experience versus Saban’s defense was similar. He threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 92 yards while beating Bama in Tuscaloosa as a redshirt freshman. In the rematch, Manziel threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 98 yards. His 562 total yards were the second-most in SEC history.

That performance in College Station also wowed NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock.

“The first tape I put in was Alabama and I put the tape down about two hours later and I said, ‘Wow, that was awesome, that was really fun to watch,’” Mayock said on a recent conference call. “The kid makes throws, he allows his other players to make plays. He gives Mike Evans a chance to make plays, he extends plays. He was like a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie.”

After that game, Saban, who Greg Bedard of MMQB.com said looked “as if he had just spent 12 rounds chasing Floyd Mayweather around a boxing ring,” talked about Manziel’s pro prospects.

“I think Johnny’s a unique player,” he said. “Many people have said about these guys, like [Robert Griffin III], that they’re not really NFL-style quarterbacks. But yet they’re all doing pretty well in the NFL. … I think when somebody’s as instinctive as [Manziel] is, and as fast as he is, and as athletic as he is, and he’s developing into a pretty good passer -- I mean last year he really developed as a passer -- I do think he has an NFL future.”

Savage agreed with that assessment, but he cautioned that that Manziel won’t be for everyone.

“I do think there will be a team out there with an offensive coordinator that sees what he brings to the table and will try to shape an offense around him,” Savage said. “And I think he can have success at the pro level given the right circumstances.”

Do the Vikings view Manziel in that light? We might have to wait until May 8 to find out.

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NY Jets 0 1st Qtr 5:17
Buffalo 7
Baltimore 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
LA Clippers 23 1st Qtr 2:09
Charlotte 17
Portland 21 1st Qtr 1:28
Philadelphia 16
Orlando 14 1st Qtr 2:2
Cleveland 20
Phoenix 6:30 PM
Toronto
New York 7:00 PM
Houston
Indiana 7:30 PM
Dallas
Chicago 8:00 PM
Utah
Pittsburgh 1 1st Prd 10:00
Boston 1
Philadelphia 0 1st Prd 8:03
NY Islanders 0
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Detroit
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Florida
East Carolina 49 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Nevada 56 FINAL
Weber State 59
Evansville 58 FINAL
Fresno State 52
Purdue 79 FINAL
Kansas State 88
Dillard 73 FINAL
Alcorn State 95
Clemson 64 FINAL
LSU 61
Georgia State 69 FINAL
Chicago State 46
MD-Eastern Shore 55 FINAL
Detroit 69
Missouri 53 FINAL
Arizona 72
Austin Peay 57 2nd Half 0:06
Indiana State 61
Milwaukee 36 2nd Half 12:18
Louisiana 31
Marist 23 2nd Half 11:38
Fla Gulf Coast 37
Gardner-Webb 26 2nd Half
Old Dominion 28
Hampton 12 1st Half 9:32
Appalachian St 19
Grambling St 10 1st Half 10:46
Ball State 13
FIU 14 1st Half 10:19
Ga Southern 13
Jacksonville 12 1st Half 8:52
IUPU-Ft Wayne 22
Colgate 17 1st Half 7:54
James Madison 24
Savannah State 0 1st Half 9:05
Louisville 17
Arizona State 28 1st Half 8:02
Maryland 23
Santa Clara 6 1st Half 11:40
Michigan State 17
Western Carolina 21 1st Half 7:59
Oakland 20
SE Louisiana 15 1st Half 7:44
Tenn Tech 21
Bucknell 0 1st Half 14:12
Toledo 16
Villanova 12 1st Half 12:49
VA Commonwealth 11
Nicholls 12 1st Half 8:49
Wake Forest 23
East Tenn St 12 1st Half 10:28
Winthrop 18
Murray State 19 1st Half 8:67
Xavier 29
Eastern Wash 6:30 PM
Indiana
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Baylor
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Belmont
Brown 7:00 PM
Illinois
Pepperdine 7:00 PM
Iowa
Rider 7:00 PM
Kansas
Prairie View 7:00 PM
Memphis
Clayton State 7:00 PM
Miss State
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
TCU
TX A&M-Int 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Oregon State 7:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Hawaii 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Seton Hall 8:00 PM
Illinois State
NJIT 8:00 PM
Marquette
Stetson 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Florida A&M 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Pittsburgh 8:00 PM
Chaminade
Alabama 8:30 PM
Iowa State
Michigan 8:30 PM
Oregon
Colorado Christian 8:30 PM
Northern Colorado
Chadron State 8:30 PM
South Dakota St
Western Mich 9:00 PM
San Diego
SIU Edwardsville 9:05 PM
Portland State
Tulsa 10:00 PM
Auburn
BYU 10:30 PM
San Diego St
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
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Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Montreal 24 FINAL
Hamilton 40
Edmonton 18 FINAL
Calgary 43
Grambling 51 FINAL
George Washington 89
Saint Louis 57 FINAL
Vanderbilt 75
NW Nazarene 69 FINAL
Idaho State 88
Millersville 49 2nd Half 9:42
Delaware State 60
NC State 30 2nd Half 11:33
Tulane 33
Harvard 35 2nd Half 6:48
(2) Notre Dame 82
Austin Peay 47 2nd Half 8:08
Chattanooga 60
Brescia 45 2nd Half 9:05
Morehead St 77
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
Longwood
Barton 6:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Tennessee St 20 1st Half 11:13
(4) Tennessee 18
Troy 19 1st Half 8:20
Florida A&M 17
Sam Houston St 11 1st Half 7:15
South Dakota St 28
Rhode Island 16 1st Half 9:02
Columbia 19
Western State 8 1st Half 10:21
Northern Colorado 23
TX A&M-CC 10 1st Half 9:05
Rice 16
Cornell 17 1st Half 9:27
Fairfield 7
St Johns 18 1st Half 9:28
Marist 9
Bradley 7 1st Half 11:00
Stony Brook 26
Mount Ida 13 1st Half 9:34
UMass Lowell 29
Thomas (GA) 16 1st Half 11:49
Georgia State 27
Loyola-Maryland 14 1st Half 11:33
(10) Maryland 19
Campbell 21 1st Half 7:09
Western Carolina 23
North Florida 5 1st Half 7:51
Samford 18
Prairie View 7:00 PM
(7) Texas A&M
Eastern Washington 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Cal-Irvine 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Quinnipiac 7:00 PM
Holy Cross
East Tenn St 7:05 PM
Indiana State
(5) Stanford 8:00 PM
New Mexico
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Cal State Fullerton 8:00 PM
Weber State
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
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