Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is "hopeful" that quarterback Johnny Manziel will be able play Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Manziel injured his throwing shoulder in the Aggies' 45-41 loss to Auburn this past Saturday but returned to the game and finished with 454 yards and four touchdowns through the air and 18 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
"I would list him as hopeful," Sumlin said Tuesday. "That's where he is right now."
If you watched Manziel after he went down, he was pretty much in pain for the remainder of the game. He winced when he threw on the sideline and showed obvious pain on his face following every play on the field after returning with a little more than nine minutes remaining. Still, Manziel was able to complete nine of his 10 passes for 102 yards and run for a touchdown after his injury.
That's pretty impressive when you consider the state he was in. While there's no official word on what the extent of Manziel's injury is, he was wearing a sling on Monday during practice. He was even throwing with his left arm, too.
The kid is a true competitor and probably wants nothing more than to be on the field Saturday, but he and Texas A&M's staff have to be careful here. We all know how deadly shoulder injuries can be for a quarterback, especially one as run heavy as Manziel. There's no question Manziel is one of the toughest football players around and has no problem slinging his body around, but he has to think about more than just Saturday.
Sure, the Aggies don't want to overlook a solid Vanderbilt team that just upset Georgia, but with the offensive weapons the Aggies have, using Matt Joeckel or Kenny Hill wouldn't be a killer for this team. The question is whether the defense would be able to support an offense that doesn't have Manziel at the helm. That is something we really don't know, and I'm sure it's something Sumlin doesn't want to find out.
A major reason for A&M's success this year has been the play of Manziel, and neither Joeckel nor Hill have his playmaking abilities. No one really does, so you can't fault them for that, but you have to worry about a team with a defense this bad if its best offensive player isn't on the field. The Aggies rank 120th nationally in total defense and have been bailed out time and again by Manziel. Vanderbilt doesn't have the most imposing offense, but it's averaging more than 400 yards per game and six yards a play.
Manziel has a week of rest and treatment ahead of him, so there's plenty of time. But with his health in question, there's even more pressure on a struggling A&M defense.