Thursday, October 31, 2013

Heisman Watch (Week 10)

A shallow foray into the plethora of college football coverage out there (googling "Heisman watch") quickly reveals the flavor of our Heisman week after last Saturday, a day where the top 5 or so prospects shined, some on bigger stages than others. AJ McCarron is finally making some noise, proving my point that for a quarterback candidate (so, any candidate) team success is almost as important as the numbers. There's a new guy who's cracked my list here, hello Bryce Petty, and though he has yet to prove himself in a big game he'll shortly be getting the call, which should be fun to watch. Without further ado…

1) Marcus Mariota had an off week, I'll be the first to admit. I had him pegged for 400 yards through the air against the Bruins last Saturday, but he fell back to earth with a mediocre 21-28 for 230 yards passing yards, with 1 TD and nothing really going on the ground. That being said, you don't lose Heisman races with average performances, and we can look at what Mariota didn't do: He didn't turn the ball over in a big game, and he didn't lose. In fact, he won big, a 42-14 stomping over the much lauded Bruin defense. Without a bad performance, I can't bring myself to drop the Hawaiian from my one spot, keeping my eye on his so far video-game like numbers. Numbers like 2281 yards through the air, 20 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions through 8 games. Oregon remains unbeaten, and two studly running backs (DeAnthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, who combined for five TD's last week) will keep the pressure off Mariota, allowing him to go deep for big plays and run the ball a fair amount (we know Heisman voters love their dual threat QB's) As long as Oregon is winning big, (and they don't look like they're planning on stopping)  Mariota will reign supreme. Back to my theory that a winning team will keep it's quarterback in the Heisman picture, even after an off day.

2) Jameis Winston had a 35 point first quarter against the Wolfpack. Now had NCST looked like anything but a half decent middle school flag football team out there, Winston would be getting more praise and we would be hearing more about his deserving the #1 ranking. However the Wolfpack could have run their cheerleaders out there to show some proper tackling technique, and so this week, tough luck Jameis, but you stay in the two hole. Winston gets the opportunity this week in a huge game against #7 Miami (almost everyone else will be at home, watching during a bye week, including Mariota) so check next week to see if these two have traded places. Winston has already stepped up big against Clemson, but this game is, if possible, as important. An in state traditional rival, a top 10 team, a big conference matchup… Keep in mind as well that almost every other team in the top 10 has a bye week, and so all eyes on famous Jameis this Saturday. He could very well have his (second) Heisman moment.

3) AJ McCarron: I am not a huge fan of McCarron, but at this point you have to hand it to the guy. He's the leader of what is really looking like an unstoppable team. Alabama will play in the national championship this year, and chances are McCarron will win his third national title. No wonder his girlfriend's… well… 3 national titles! Just the sound of that makes you imagine sports center exploding. Here come the dynasty montages, here comes the historical perspective, here come the interviews, and more interviews, and more montages, the "Best Ever?" tab on the left hand side of the screen...but I digress. McCarron has looked like an NFL quarterback this year, simply put, against for the most part very impressive SEC defenses. With a great receiving core at his disposal (see an earlier article) and every quarterback's best friend in TJ Yeldon (money sign double throat slash), McCarron has clawed himself into this race. He's still about 400 passing yards short of making my top spot, but as the big no doubter wins pile up, we have to ask "how much longer can he not be in the conversation?"

4) Johnny Manziel had some choice words last Saturday on the Jumbotron down in College Station this week, (really? Tiger Woods? Did anyone else find that kind of strange?) but Heisman voters will grudgingly give him this: the kid can play. No matter what he does off the field, short of second degree murder, he will remain on the field, and when he's on the field there's a sense that anything can happen. This is why he's so much fun to watch. He dazzled again against Vanderbilt this week, a nice 53 spot which featured 4 touchdowns.  However with 2 losses, (in which he scored a combined 83 points against Alabama and Auburn defenses) his team has dragged him almost out of the race. Some people still love the kid for number one, but for me you need to be leading your team to undefeated greatness. Many would disagree with that standard, but when there are Marcus Mariota's and Jameis Winston's out there, I know who goes in my top spots.

5) Bryce Petty: Here's an easy way to drag yourself into the national conversation: Score an average 63.7 points a game. The junior quarterback down in Baylor has long had reason to quietly raise his hand and ask why he isn't being talked about, but apparently one Heisman quarterback from Baylor is enough for the next several years. Petty had big shoes (or big socks) to fill after RGIII's Heisman career at Baylor, but he has proved he's more than up to the task. For now, this guy still isn't in the elite category simply because his schedule has been softer than mashed potatoes, but he must be licking his chops: The next 3 weeks (after a bye this time around) bring Baylor some real football teams, in #13 Oklahoma, #15 Texas Tech, and #18 Oklahoma State. The entire Bears team has been waiting for these three games, to put on an offensive show like they are capable of, but in particular this is Petty's time to step up. If he does, I don't know what will do in the BCS or the Heisman conversation.

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