LSU defense confident it can contain Manziel


LSU defense confident it can contain Manziel

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Kevin Minter doesn't envision LSU's defense fretting over any quarterback, not even Texas A&M's explosive, headline-grabbing, dual-threat freshman, Johnny Manziel.

Minter and LSU held Oregon in check last season. Just last week, the Tigers racked up four sacks against South Carolina's Connor Shaw - a good scrambler in his own right.

So while being showered with question after question about how No. 6 LSU was going to cope with Manziel's playmaking ability, Minter acknowledged there was a part of him that wanted to roll his eyes and just say, ``We can handle this.'' But the senior linebacker didn't want to come off as disrespectful, either.

``Anything can happen. We've still got to prepare well and execute,'' said Minter, who leads the team with 63 total tackles, including 8 1/2 for losses. ``They're a very talented offense and we can't just go in there cocky thinking, `Oh, we got this. We've played teams like this before.' It can get bad for you real quick with an offense like this.''

Earlier this week, LSU watched film of the 20th-ranked Aggies' 59-57 victory over Louisiana Tech in Shreveport on Saturday night. Manziel's 72-yard touchdown run, in which he appeared to be coasting to his right on a roll-out before a sudden burst up field, got the defenders' attention.

``He's surprisingly fast. You don't necessarily know until he's leaving you,'' Minter said, adding that in watching video, he noticed defenders being caught off guard by Manziel's acceleration and breakaway speed. ``You can tell (defenders pursuing Manziel) don't go as fast as they need to and all of a sudden he takes off and they're panicking. He's 30 yards down the field already. So we've got to be able to crowd this guy and play LSU defense.''

Playing LSU defense means the kind of speed to the ball, sound positional play and sure tackling that has the Tigers ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in rush defense (89.3 yards per game), pass defense (130.3 ypg) and total defense (219.6 ypg).

The Aggies, meanwhile, lead the SEC in scoring (47.0 points per game), rushing (235.8 ypg), and total offense (543.7 ypg).

Manziel accounted for an SEC-record 576 yards against Louisiana Tech, rushing for 181 yards and three touchdowns and completing 24 of 40 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns. In six games, Manziel has nearly 2,400 yards of total offense.

``He's fast, real fast. He's a dual-threat quarterback like ones we've faced a couple times this year but he's faster. ... We have to make sure we keep him contained,'' LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan said.

``He does a pretty good job throwing the ball on the run and he also does a good job faking like he's going to throw it and when you jump to bat down the ball he'll tuck the ball and run,'' Logan added. ``Coach was telling us to make sure we stay on our feet when we get to him. Don't try to jump for the ball or anything. Make sure you get him contained and tackle him down low.''

Texas A&M does not allow freshmen to speak to the media, so reporters have not had a chance to get Manziel's opinion on the type of defense he'll be up against this week. However, it's clear that his coaches are trying to prepare him to face one of the toughest units he's seen this season.

``You never know what LSU is going to throw at us. They have such great athletes and players that they can do whatever they want and it's going to be a challenge,'' Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said. ``Watching 11 guys fly for the football on every snap is impressive. I have the utmost respect for this team. When you turn on the film, you see a hard-playing, hard-nose team and it goes a long way.''

Minter and Logan both said that while Manziel might be the fastest quarterback they've faced, they also believe the Tigers have some of the fastest players that the Aggies freshman will see on a defensive line. Defensive end Barkevious Mingo and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson are as fast as anyone playing their positions, Minter said.

This week, Jerrard Randall has been running the scout team against the starting defense, and Minter believes facing the speedy backup quarterback in practice has served the Tigers well in preparing for dual-threat QBs all season.

``He's running the ball around and to be honest with you, we haven't faced a mobile quarterback like Jerrard Randall,'' Minter said. ``He just gives a great look out there and when we go against these mobile quarterbacks I feel like we're more than prepared to face them.''

Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

USA Today Sports Images

5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:


2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:


4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:



Quick Links

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

USA Today Sports Images

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.


Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:


Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two guys have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.