The first press conference for the Chick-fil-A Bowl has come and gone without the talented and controversial Johnny Manziel at the podium. Instead, the Texas A&M Aggies were represented by coach Kevin Sumlin, running back Ben Malena and defensive back Toney Hurd Jr.
During the conference, Sumlin was asked to compare the health of his young quarterback this year versus last year after a season of hard hits.
“It’s interesting,” said Sumlin. “We ran him a lot more the year before, and he wasn’t beat up. We didn’t run him as much this year. We didn’t really talk about it too much; but hitting the helmet is something that is hard on your throwing hand. He battled through it. And obviously the time off, we hadn’t played in a month, and giving him a chance to heal up, I think he feels really, really good right now.
“I liked practice yesterday. I think he’s approaching this game and feeling better. He’s got a bit more bounce. I think the time off for this team, because it was a pretty good year. I mean, for these guys that are playing, this league is rough. But we gave them more time off this year. We didn’t practice for a couple weeks after that last game and kind of turned it up a notch when we got back to practice instead of just keeping it going.”
The Chick-fil-A Bowl will kick off on Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.