COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Johnny Manziel was sharp and confident and moved No. 7 Texas A&M’s offense with ease and piled up three touchdowns in his suspension-abbreviated debut against Rice.
His performance was sparkling. The problem was Johnny Football’s attitude.
The Heisman Trophy winner sat out the first half because of what the school called an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs.
In the second half he managed to not only show some of the skills that helped him become one of the country’s most electric players, but also the antics that have caused him off-the-field trouble.
Not long after he entered the game in the third quarter he jawed with a Rice defender and appeared to mimic signing an autograph while getting up from a tackle.
He was at it again after throwing third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and was benched following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pointing at the scoreboard.
Coach Kevin Sumlin said that he didn’t see the autograph incident, but he was clearly upset by the fourth-quarter penalty.
“We’ve got to grow and mature as a team, and individual acts like that hurt your football team,” he said.
Manziel wasn’t made available to the media after Saturday’s game and hasn’t spoken publicly since the autograph scandal broke. He addressed his teammates on Friday night as a condition of his reinstatement.
Sumlin said he hopes that Manziel learned a lesson about the consequences his actions can have on the team, and that he’ll address the situations from Saturday’s game this week.
Manziel set numerous school and Southeastern Conference records while leading the Aggies to an 11-2 mark and a victory over No. 1 Alabama to become the first freshman to win the Heisman last year.