Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heisman Watch: Week 4

With the season now well underway, talk about the Heisman race can really heat up. No surprises, really, at this point in the season. Besides of course that so far I was spot on in my preseason predictions. Here's a list of top five Heisman candidates, contingent upon not just their current performance but how I see them playing (and thus making their case) in the next couple of weeks. I also tried to spice it up a little, positionally. 

Absolute no doubter
Marcus Mariota is a no doubter at the top of this list. It was a couple of weeks ago when the to date biggest game of the year was on display in Michigan St. vs Oregon, and Mariota did not hurt his case. As I was taught when a wee lad, Heisman moments make Heisman campaigns. Well, Mariota had his moment. Down 24-18 at the half, with the world whispering of an upset in the making and the producers on sports center licking their chops at some "not so mighty ducks" puns, Mariota came out of the locker room and played one of the better halves of football we've seen in a while. He dropped a casual 28 in a half to finish with a resounding 46-27 win over the then 7th ranked Spartans. Suffice it to say this was an awesome game, in which Mariota finished with 318 yards and 3 touchdowns, against one of the better defenses in the country. To top that off, last week he missed a grand total of 4 passes against Wyoming en route to a 48-14 victory, with four total touchdowns, good for an almost perfect performance. Not hurting his chances, certainly. Watch for Mariota to make another statement this week as the Ducks travel to Washington St, a respectable Pac 12 foe. For now, he's miles ahead of the pack. 

Kenny Hill, the sophomore quarterback from Texas A&M is a surprising candidate for the award this year. In this horse race, they're coming around the far turn and he's starting to make his move on the heavy favorite. But the more you think about it, the more it looks like the Heisman is his for the taking. He absolutely has the team for it, (the Aggies are currently ranked sixth and they don't look like they want to stop any time soon) and in the SEC he certainly has the schedule, with the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Missouri. All those teams are national contenders, and if Hill and the Aggies run the table (I'm not saying that's going to happen) it will be hard to deny that he's the most valuable player in college football. He has already exhibited that uncanny penchant for dazzling, diverse displays of offensive fireworks we see from, for example, the Ducks. The only thing that separates Mariota from Hill is currently Mariota's history; we know Mariota can and will drop video game numbers, because he's been doing it for a while now. Hill, to his credit, has 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 1,094 yards passing in 3 games this season, with a completion percentage nearing 70%, but the size of his sample size holds him back, for now. Still that's a trend we'd like to see continue. So watch him all season, because we'll see some great games in which he features as prominently as M&M's in trail mix. 
"Johnny Football who?"

Now we drop off a bit, but don't tell Jameis Winston that. Statistically, and unfairly, I don't think Winston has another trip to New York in him. He has of course been effective in two games so far this season, but has passed for only 3 touchdowns compared with 2 interceptions. Not a ratio that will win the award this season, with other outstanding quarterbacks in the mix. 

[Now the horses back here are gasping for breath, and we (the crowd) are vaguely aware that it is the same race, but on some level unsure if they're even viable contenders. We don't spend too much time worrying about them though, preferring the stallions who are something like 40 lengths ahead, for the moment.] 

He does that really, really well
Amari Cooper is the currently sexy Heisman pick, but he's by no one's measure the frontrunner. What he is is an outrageously athletic wideout on a great team, who made his debut a couple of years ago and has been in the back of mind ever since. He is also off to a blazing start, with 33 catches and 454 yards in three games. That's absolutely ridiculous on a team and under a coach that loves to run, against stingy SEC secondaries. He'll stay on my list of top five players until he cools off, and I can't predict when that'll happen. This guy's an animal. 

Todd Gurley is on my list as the best running back in contention. If I had my way, however, he wouldn't be up here. His sixth ranked Bulldogs just lost to rival 24 South Carolina, for starters, and that is a heavy mark against him already. He's averaging over 100 yards a game, and in the SEC that is worth watching of course, with statement performances brewing in the future, but that's a tough hit to take to your chances this early in the season. 

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