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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 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
Phoenix 6:00 PM
Indiana
Miami 6:00 PM
Orlando
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
New York
Toronto 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Sacramento 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Washington 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
New Orleans 8:00 PM
Utah
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Montreal 6:00 PM
Boston
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Columbus 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Washington
Florida 7:00 PM
Nashville
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Dallas
Carolina 8:00 PM
Colorado
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Arizona 9:30 PM
San Jose
Incarnate Word 79 FINAL
Princeton 68
Robert Morris 66 FINAL
Georgetown 80
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
Massachusetts 68
Saint Peters 50 FINAL
La Salle 59
Ball State 69 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Utah State 63 FINAL
Miss State 71
High Point 56 FINAL
Richmond 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 63
Drake 75 FINAL
Western Mich 91
Samford 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 79
Colgate 53 FINAL
Campbell 48
North Carolina 90 FINAL
Davidson 72
North Florida 49 FINAL
Northern Iowa 66
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
NJIT 61
Nebraska Omaha 97 FINAL
Marquette 89
Clemson 59 FINAL
Nevada 50
Florida State 54 FINAL
Providence 80
South Alabama 53 FINAL
Detroit 66
Texas State 67 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 80
Trinity Christian 52 FINAL
Chicago State 75
Liberty 52 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Western State 60 FINAL
Air Force 90
Elon 67 FINAL
Northwestern 68
Canisius 53 FINAL
St Bonaventure 59
MD-Eastern Shore 53 FINAL
St Francis-PA 57
Cleveland State 83 FINAL
Savannah State 87
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Central Arkansas 68
UMKC 66 2nd Half 0:12
Ark-Little Rock 71
Southern U 48 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 66
Longwood 72 FINAL
Youngstown St 82
Towson 56 2nd Half 4:12
Bethune-Cookman 37
Loyola-Maryland 39 2nd Half 3:02
Butler 78
San Jose St 54 2nd Half 3:25
Cal State Fullerton 60
Texas Southern 53 2nd Half 7:33
Norfolk State 60
Yale 48 2nd Half 5:02
Southern Ill 38
LSU 72 2nd Half 2:28
Weber State 58
South Dakota 59 2nd Half 1:30
Wofford 69
Duquesne 68 2nd Half 10:04
Abilene Christian 56
Wright State 42 2nd Half
Char Southern 35
Miles 50 2nd Half 15:02
Jacksonville St 45
Binghamton 27 2nd Half
Manhattan 43
Alcorn State 29 2nd Half
Kennesaw St 44
Bob Jones Univ 26 1st Half 3:40
Citadel 30
Piedmont Coll 13 1st Half 3:22
Coastal Carolina 25
Johnson University 11 1st Half 13:58
Ga Southern 20
Brown 23 1st Half 2:39
Indiana State 30
Colorado 24 1st Half 1:11
Wyoming 24
Quinnipiac 6:00 PM
Albany
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Master's College 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Clermont College 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Sam Houston St 6:00 PM
Fairfield
American Univ 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Army 6:00 PM
Marist
Hartford 6:00 PM
Niagara
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Penn
Nebraska 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Vermont 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Eastern Wash 6:00 PM
SMU
UNLV 6:00 PM
Temple
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Va Military
Ohio Midwestern 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
UC Davis 6:30 PM
Furman
Ill-Chicago 6:30 PM
Kent State
Transylvania 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Central Conn St 6:30 PM
Monmouth
Oakwood 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Morgan State 7:00 PM
Houston
Lamar 7:00 PM
Indiana
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Navy
William & Mary 7:00 PM
Rice
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX A&M-Kingsville 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Southern-New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulane
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Western Ill
Belmont 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Hampton 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
UMBC 7:30 PM
Minnesota
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
Texas-Arlington
St Thomas Aquinas 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Stanford 8:30 PM
Duke
Morehead State 8:30 PM
Presbyterian
SIU Edwardsville 9:00 PM
Portland
Boise State 9:00 PM
Wisconsin
Valparaiso 11/23/14 8:30 AM
Maine
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 13 FINAL
Rice 31
Air Force 14 FINAL
San Diego St 30
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Utah State 41
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(9) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
Minnesota 28 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(18) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(23) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(14) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(22) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(15) Arizona 42 FINAL
(20) Utah 10
FIU 14 FINAL
North Texas 17
(8) Ole Miss 0 4th Qtr 11:42
Arkansas 30
Louisville 31 4th Qtr 6:30
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 4th Qtr 3:15
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 27 4th Qtr 5:40
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 4th Qtr 4:10
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 FINAL
Clemson 28
Tulane 6 4th Qtr 6:20
East Carolina 27
Stanford 31 3rd Qtr 2:03
California 7
Western Carolina 14 3rd Qtr 5:04
(2) Alabama 41
ULM 27 4th Qtr 15:00
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 13 4th Qtr 15:00
Memphis 28
Colorado 3 3rd Qtr 6:11
(3) Oregon 30
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
(21) Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(18) 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
(19) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(15) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(11) UCLA
(22) 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
BYU 11/29/14 2:00 AM
California
(20) Utah 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Colorado
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Oregon State
Kentucky 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Louisville
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(24) USC
So Carolina 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Clemson
Florida 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(1) Florida State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(25) Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(17) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
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
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
(8) Ole Miss
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(6) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
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
(12) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
(16) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
TBA 11/30/14 5:00 PM
TBA
Grand Canyon 77 FINAL
Austin Peay 84
Bowling Green 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 50
St Bonaventure 68 FINAL
Detroit 56
Illinois-Chicago 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 69
Louisiana Tech 55 FINAL
Louisiana 58
MD-Eastern Shore 57 FINAL
Marshall 74
Butler 77 FINAL
Fairfield 81
Central Conn St 81 FINAL
UMass Lowell 58
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 60
St Marys-CA 57 FINAL
UC Davis 55
UNC-Asheville 53 FINAL
South Florida 97
Colgate 51 FINAL
Drexel 59
Niagara 64 FINAL
Buffalo 73
Vermont 61 FINAL
Boston U 66
Marist 51 FINAL
Northeastern 58
UNC-Wilmington 72 FINAL
Appalachian St 82
Duquesne 52 FINAL
Green Bay 84
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Liberty 76
Army 81 FINAL
Manhattan 49
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
TX-Pan American 81
Southern Ill 50 FINAL
Wright State 70
Youngstown St 70 FINAL
Radford 44
Stetson 62 FINAL
Indiana State 52
Rockhurst 65 FINAL
UMKC 60
Ark-Little Rock 55 FINAL
Rice 40
(23) Syracuse 77 FINAL
Jacksonville 61
NC Central 53 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 73
New Orleans 51 FINAL
Jacksonville St 65
(22) Rutgers 64 FINAL
LSU 57
Missouri State 36 FINAL
(21) Oklahoma St 77
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
SMU 69
Houston Baptist 61 FINAL
Texas State 56
TX-Arlington 61 FINAL
Wichita State 71
(9) Maryland 75 FINAL
George Washington 65
Presbyterian 51 FINAL
Western Carolina 44
St Francis-NY 71 FINAL
Rider 60
Central Arkansas 56 FINAL
Jackson State 45
Kennesaw St 72 FINAL
Georgia Southern 51
Loyola-Chicago 45 FINAL
Northern Ky 38
Howard 64 FINAL
La Salle 65
San Jose St 76 2nd Half 7:53
Cal-Irvine 57
Tennessee St 49 2nd Half 5:40
Lipscomb 33
San Francisco 43 2nd Half 2:28
UC-Riverside 55
Temple 48 2nd Half 6:11
Kansas 68
San Diego 47 2nd Half 5:42
Idaho 49
Concordia (OR) 35 FINAL
(20) Oregon State 92
Corban 72 2nd Half 1:12
Portland State 62
Charleston Southern 10 1st Half 2:18
Wofford 15
UT Martin 24 1st Half 2:04
Pepperdine 21
Eastern Kentucky 5 1st Half 11:37
Mercer 10
Weber State 9 1st Half 6:48
Utah Valley U 16
North Dakota 5 1st Half 17:21
Towson 4
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Penn State
LSU-Shreveport 6:00 PM
Grambling
Brown 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Penn 6:00 PM
Navy
Xavier 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Georgetown 6:30 PM
Alabama
(13) Kentucky 7:00 PM
Central Michigan
Texas Southern 7:00 PM
TCU
South Dakota St 7:00 PM
(18) DePaul
Talladega 7:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Colorado
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
UAB
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Dayton 7:30 PM
(19) Iowa
Nevada 8:30 PM
BYU
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT