Heisman Watch Week Three: Manziel Has Flare, But McCarron Claims The Victory

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Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel might not have led Texas A&M to an upset victory over Alabama, but he did just about everything he could to make it so, passing for five touchdowns, 464 yards and rushing for 98 more. And all that against the Crimson Tide defense. Say what you will about not getting the victory here, but Manziel had two strong “Heisman moment” type plays here, despite them not panning out. If Manziel can rebound from the tough loss in the weeks to come, he should be just fine.

Tajh Boyd

Tahj Boyd and Clemson had week three off, but his season thus far is simply hard to ignore. With three touchdowns each on the ground and through the air and a big, already season-defining victory against Georgia under his belt, Boyd seems to be in the Heisman discussion for the long-haul. Expect him to come out gunning in the Tigers’ ACC opener against NC State on Thursday.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater was effective but quiet against Kentucky in week three, only passing for 250 yards and a touchdown. But Bridgewater didn’t make any mistakes and woke Louisville up when they started shakily against the Wildcats. For that, Bridgewater can continue to rest comfortably in the midst of the race, and prepare to fight the season-long battle for the trophy.

AJ McCarrron

The start to AJ McCarron’s season was not as planned. Though Alabama won its first contest against Virginia Tech, the numbers weren’t there. Not so on Saturday against Manziel and Texas A&M, and though Johnny Football may have had the flashier performance, McCarron left College Station with the victory and, importantly, his statistics were as solid as they’ve ever been. McCarron tossed four touchdowns and recorded 334 yards passing in the win while completing 69 percent of his passes.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota was just wicked against Tennessee on Saturday. It was a slow start for the Ducks, but just about as soon as Twitter turned everyone’s attention to the Vols’ early lead, Mariota and the Ducks made it disappear. Mariota finished the day with 456 yards passing, 27 yards rushing and five combined touchdowns. Mariota ruled a fantastic day for the Ducks and solidified his name in this race for the foreseeable future.

Others To Watch

Melvin Gordon

Big numbers for the Badgers running back against Arizona State, but that’s a loaded back field he’s a member of.

De’Anthony Thomas

Another 100-yard-plus game and a touchdown scored, but continues to be outdone by his own quarterback.

Jameis Winston

Has more touchdowns than incompletions through three weeks. Recalls the likes of Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith. One of those guys Winston would be wise to aspire to.

Heisman Watch Week Two: Mariota, Manziel and Wisconsin’s Backfield Do Damage

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Johnny Manziel

Much quieter and more composed this week after serving his half-game suspension last week, it was the Johnny Manziel show against Sam Houston State for the Texas A&M Aggies. The sophomore quarterback threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns against the Bearkats, and added another touchdown on the ground. Could Manziel actually repeat as the Heisman winner? These first few games have certainly put it in the realm of possibility.

Devin Gardner

Far be it from the coaches’ of Notre Dame and Michigan to place much significance on their last scheduled regular season meeting, but Devin Gardner certainly arrived with all the urgency the fan bases place on the game on Saturday night. Tossing four touchdown passes and rushing for 82 key yards, Gardner was absolutely invaluable to the Wolverines’ attack. Without his offensive prowess, who knows where Michigan would have been against the Fighting Irish.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater was stylish in his second appearance and victory of the season, throwing for 397 yards and four touchdowns in Louisville’s romp over Eastern Kentucky, 44-7. It was Bridgewater’s final touchdown strike, a 42-yard pass to DaVante Parker that was a highlight. Next Bridgewater will get another chance for a big statistical performance against Kentucky next weekend.

Corey Clement/Melvin Gordon/James White

These three Wisconsin backs have done something so outrageous in the first two weeks that the three of them are vying for the Heisman as a triad. Three running backs, all from Wisconsin, all running for more than 100 yards in two consecutive games. Sure, it was Tennessee Tech and UMass, but seriously, what team can do that other than the Badgers? These three have helped the Badgers compile 780 yards rushing over two games. Unreal. It’s early, we can get away with naming three Heisman candidates in one.

Marcus Mariota  

Against Virginia, Marcus Mariota kept his strong start to the 2013 season going, passing for two touchdowns, but really proving a highlight maker on a long, 71-yard touchdown run when the Cavaliers were hanging around. With the help of Thomas, Mariota finished the game with 319 yards of total offense and continues to pace the Oregon offense under its new leadership.

Others To Watch

Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney was again less of an impact-maker than you might expect in a big SEC conference game against Georgia, again failing to meet expectations.

Tahj Boyd

Not even the biggest box score impact among Clemson quarterbacks for Tahj Boyd, although that was more than likely by design. Does he stay in the race?

Aaron Murray

Huge bounce back performance from the Georgia quarterback against South Carolina with four touchdowns and, more importantly, the win.

De’Anthony Thomas

Is there anyone in college football as fast as the Ducks’ burner? Probably not. But he’s being slightly outshone by his quarterback compatriot. We’ll see what’s next for Thomas.

Jameis Winston

The FSU quarterback shone more brightly than any last week, but with an off-week this weekend, maybe he fades a little. But the upstart stays in the conversation, that’s for sure.

Heisman Watch Week One: Manziel Shines In His Short Time

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Johnny Manziel

Say what you will about Johnny Manziel’s 30-minute suspension on Saturday, but the Texas A&M quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner certainly made the most of his limited playing time and limited exposure. In just eight pass attempts Manziel posted three touchdowns and 94 yards, while completing six of those attempts. He added a handful of yards on the ground, but for what it was — a lost game in Manziel’s Heisman repeat hopes no matter what the result — this was about as good as the Aggies could have hoped for.

Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller kept it simple against Buffalo in Ohio State’s season opener. Twenty-two pass attempts and 17 rush attempts netted 255 yards and two touchdowns. Leg cramps eventually sidelined the Buckeyes’ Heisman candidate, and a interception returned against him will go down as a bruise on his day. Miller will have a chance to knock some more of the rust off the next few weeks — with games against San Diego State, California and FCS Florida A&M.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater might have the inside track on one of the biggest statistical seasons in 2013 as a simple result of an easy Louisville schedule. That, of course, is not Bridgewater’s fault, and if his performance Sunday is to be believed, we could see plenty from him the season. Bridgewater passed for 355 yards and five touchdowns — a solid debut against Ohio. Who knows what Bridgewater can do next.

Jadeveon Clowney

Rust and a stomach bug very demonstrably hindered Jadeveon Clowney against North Carolina in his first game of the season, as he finished with just three first half tackles and no sacks. That being said, however, expect Clowney to bounce back in a big way as the season wears on. And he’ll get his first big test next weekend against Georgia in a prime SEC showdown.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota proved his dual-threat ability against Nicholls State on Saturday in Oregon’s season debut, which, in classic Oregon fashion, turned into an all-out blowout. In the 66-3 victory, Mariota accounted for three touchdowns, two on the ground, and 347 yards in total offense. Without Chip Kelly, the Ducks looked much the same, with Mariota’s teammate De’Anthony Thomas proving a threat around the field and Mariota leading a ruthlessly efficient attack. Looks like the Oregon’s we’ve come to expect is definitely back.

Others To Watch

De’Anthony Thomas

Thomas was responsible for 130 yards, 128 of which were on the ground, and two touchdowns on Saturday, but was clearly outdone by his quarterback teammate.

Tahj Boyd

Leading Clemson to the win of the first weekend of college football would turn eyes the way of Boyd no matter how he did it, but he ended up accounting for five touchdowns in the thrilling Saturday night game. He’ll be one to keep an eye on early.

AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron’s ingrown toenail made headline news, then it was his special teams and defense, and not his offensive attack, that helped Alabama get by Virginia Tech.

2012 Preseason Heisman Watch: Robinson, Barkley, Lattimore Lead Loaded Class

Denard Robinson

Dual threat if there ever was one, Denard Robinson spent the better part of the last three seasons electrifying Wolverine fans up and down the field and around the country. Last season saw the junior rush for more than 1,000 yards while passing for more than 2,000 for the second straight season, the only player in NCAA history to reach those levels in two consecutive years. Those things alone place Robinson squarely in the Heisman conversation coming into the 2012 season.

Clearly, the stats are there to support a Heisman campaign, however, as has been the case in the past, concerns linger about Robinson’s ability as a complete passer. If he aspires to a Tim Tebow-like season (and the Heisman that could come with it), he must bring his production as a passer to a level that is commensurate with the best quarterbacks in the country. Robinson’s career 4:3 touchdown to interception ratio will simply not cut it if Robinson hopes to contend for the trophy this season.

Matt Barkley

Matt Barkley has been through a lot as USC’s quarterback. In 2011, the bowl-ineligible Trojans prospered from Barkley’s experience, finishing 10-2 as Barkley broke the Pac-12’s single-season passing touchdowns record and all the other things seemed to melt away. Faced now instead with hype and expectation similar to that of the USC-dominated mid-2000s, Barkley is the media’s preseason favorite for the award.

A junior season of 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns will do that for any quarterback, let alone one also expected to lead a national title contending team of Trojans. Difficult games await USC in the deepening Pac-12, but if USC can stay in the national title race all season, Barkley is likely — at the very least — to stay in the Heisman conversation all year.

Marcus Lattimore

Few running backs enter their sophomore season with as much hype as Marcus Lattimore did in 2011. Coming off a 1,000-yard freshman rushing season against SEC defenses, Lattimore readied to contend for a Heisman trophy as a sophomore at South Carolina. It all seemed in place until the South Carolina running back tore his ACL against Mississippi State midway through his season.

Suddenly, Lattimore was out of the conversation and out of the national consciousness, but 2012 is a new year, and the back who electrified the SEC as an 18- and 19-year-old for 1,197 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns is back again to light Gamecocks opponents up. His 818 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games in 2011 isn’t exactly Heisman-winning pace, but playing under the bright lights of SEC football, Lattimore’s production is sure to put him in the conversation all season.

Montee Ball

In a conference prideful of the way its defenses make teams fight for every yard, Montee Ball certainly was worth his weight on the gridiron in 2011. Wisconsin’s star running back torched defenses for nearly 2,000 yards rushing and 39 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns — tying the all-time FBS record.

Though it will be difficult to match his record-breaking junior season, anything that approaches his 2011 output against an even stouter Big Ten crop of defenders will easily position Ball for a second selection as a Heisman finalist. Finishing fourth in last year’s Heisman balloting and then dropping the Rose Bowl to Oregon was probably not the finish Ball envisioned, but if the Badgers can continue an unprecedented run of success in 2012, expect Ball to stay on the national consciousness all season.

Geno Smith

Sure, 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns in any FBS conference is impressive, but in Geno Smith’s case, those impressive numbers came against a Big East conference who’s national profile hasn’t often warranted its stars being recognized on a national and Heisman level in the last decade. Smith will play his last season with West Virginia in a new conference and get the chance to prove his worth all over again.

West Virginia moves to the Big 12 this year, and although not necessarily known for its defense (Cowboys, Wildcats, Sooners and Bears seem more of the offensive mind these days), the conference is certainly visible in a way the Big East often is not. With a stat line like the one he put up in 2011, the senior quarterback might just be able to give the Mountaineers not only with a chance for a return trip to the BCS, but also a shot at personal achievement — in this case, well-deserved consideration for the Heisman trophy.

Others to Watch

Landry Jones

Helmer of by no means bad, but underwhelming, Oklahoma teams in back-to-back years, senior quarterback Landry Jones has seen his preseason Heisman hype dissipate the last two years. Both years saw 4,400 or more passing yards, but no invite to NYC. Could more of the same in 2012 change that?

Tyler Wilson

If it’s possible, Tyler Wilson’s junior season as Arkansas’s quarterback — all 3,600 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 wins — was largely forgotten in the all-SEC title game bonanza. Though Arkansas again enters the season outside of the seemingly BCS-ensued preseason SEC top-two, Wilson certainly has a shot at some Heisman attention his senior season.

De’Anthony Thomas

From the moment De’Anthony Thomas hit the field during his first game as a Duck, it was clear he was a spark plug in the Duck mold — fast, efficient and great to watch. Racking up an even 1,200 yards of combined rushing and receiving in 2011, the freshman was a factor all over the field. Could he be even more in 2012?

AJ McCarron

A national champion quarterback has rarely been as unheralded as A.J. McCarron. Perhaps the perception belied the fact that Crimson Tide faithful widely lauded McCarron for his work in the title game despite the lack of eye-catching statistics. The junior’s 2012 season might have a little more attention turned its way.

Jadeveon Clowney

The honor of SEC Freshman of the Year hasn’t exactly turned into Heisman glory down the road for recent recipients, but that a defensive lineman received the honor is stark enough of a fact that Clowney should register on Heisman pundits radars all season. Many expect big things of the South Carolina sophomore, and delivering on them could spell some national attention.