Robert Griffin III Clarifies The Race

Robert Griffin III needed to impress against Texas to have a chance to win the Heisman.

Based on the reaction from voters and media following his team’s 48-24 win over the Longhorns, it appears he did just that.

And now, he may have created a little bit of elbow room for himself in a Heisman race that had, all of a sudden, become awfully crowded.

Griffin was 15 of 22 for 322 yards against Texas, with 2 touchdown passes, as well as 2 more touchdowns running. It was a nice cap to a statistically dominant season that produced 4,644 yards of offense and 45 total touchdowns. More importantly, Baylor is 9-3 and has victories over Oklahoma and Texas in the same season for the first time since, well, ever.

Consequently, it appears portions of the Heisman electorate are tilting inexorably in Griffin III’s direction. What was at one time was an intense faction supporting his candidacy has now grown into a broader coalition.

He should easily win his home region (the Southwest) which just a couple weeks ago was divided up between himself and candidates like Case Keenum and Brandon Weeden. With Houston’s loss, much of Keenum’s support will melt away, while Weeden has never really recovered from his team’s loss to Iowa State. In addition to the strong home region, he’ll have solid support in the South and Northeast, too. Meanwhile, as expected, both Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson have been hurt by not playing on this final Saturday, though we won’t know exactly how much for another week.

I still maintain that Luck’s strength will be his presence on a high percentage of ballots across the country. Griffin III, wherever he appears, is more likely to be on top of a ballot than at the bottom, so he’ll be more efficient in his point scoring. And it doesn’t look to me like Richardson will be able to break out much beyond the South and Mid-Atlantic, especially with Montee Ball challenging him for the role of top running back in the race and the Honey Badger presenting himself as a suitable SEC alternative.

It all points to a tight race between Griffin III and Luck, with Griffin at the advantage due to having the last at bat.

Am I ready to call the race for Griffin III? Almost, but not quite.

I’d like to wait a day to soak up more of the buzz out there and see the reaction of my straw poll voters to the weekend’s events.

No matter what happens, this is going to be a close one. I don’t think any of us will know with 100% certainty which name is going to be called on Saturday, so an educated guess will have to do.

Griffin III better get a nice suit and a speech ready, just in case.

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

32 Responses to Robert Griffin III Clarifies The Race

  1. DJ December 4, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Am I alone in thinking Griffin’s 2 rushing TDs are misleading? His rushing stats yesterday: < 3 YPC yet everyone is talking about that. Most other quarterbacks would have handed off there.

    I agree he looked good overall though. Funny how fast momentum changes in a few plays despite a season's worth of games.

    • RC December 4, 2011 at 6:27 am #

      Great point DJ, I believe I commented on this very thing during the game yesterday.

      RGIII had a nice game for sure, but if you look at a replay of the game did you see how open his WR’s were!!!! Texas had to play zone because of RGIII ability (and propensity) to run, and the Baylor WR’s dissected them with huge separation. If Luck had that talent, that beyond a walk on lacrosse player, he would have destroyed that defense as well. Again, if you realize how Luck has to run the offense with subpar talent around him you would realize just how far above he has had to be to have this season’s success.

      Griffin’s support has been up and down this year, while Luck’s has remained steady ALL YEAR. Again, if Luck gets help by his D (did Texas have 6 turnovers yesterday?) against Oregon – he wins the Heisman a month ago. RGIII is great, and certainly deserves more support than TR (whatever – Ball is better) but he hasn’t necessarily claimed the top by a walk.

      • RGIII4HEISMAN December 4, 2011 at 9:17 am #

        Really? We are playing the defense card? Against BAYLOR???

        I am stoked that our defense stepped it up in the second half of yesterday and helped us pull out the W in a big way. But even against the worst defense, that Texas offense isn’t going to win a shootout. Baylor put up 48 points yesterday. Yes, the defense contributed greatly, but they couldn’t stop RGIII and friends.

        Also, speaking of defense, if Baylor even had a middle of the pack defense throughout the season, I can assure you they’d be in the BCS (as it stands, they are a 1 point loss @KSU away from being in the BCS conversation right now!) and we might even be talking about an undefeated Baylor team. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills saying that, but the Baylor offense has been that good!

        LOL at you trying to discount RGIII because he somehow has this great defense!

      • Barton Smith December 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

        I think it would be helpful to you in your thinking about this year’s Heisman race if you familiarized yourself with the Pundit’s “10 Heismandments” (if you have not already done so), as well as “The Heismandments Explained.” There is much received wisdom there.

        Heismandment #3 is particularly applicable this year to distinguish between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The other presumed finalists this year (Richardson, Keenum and Ball) are on the wrong side of many “Heismandemnts.”

    • CowboyKS December 4, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      Still chattering about Luck? What a joke…..
      RG3 is a better passer, better runner, and better field general. And RG3 doesn’t have the tallest set of receivers ever assembled to throw to. He throw accurate balls hitting receivers in stride. He has bett stats against much tougher competition than Luck.
      And let’s look at the student athlete card. Which player graduated in 3 years and has already been accepted into Law School?

      • DJ December 4, 2011 at 11:50 am #

        I will grant RGIII is a better runner though Luck is underrated there and great when he chooses to run – look at his stats from last year (453 yds rushing in 55 carries, 8.2 ypc). Yes I realize the Heisman is about this year but this shows he would have done more if asked. Both are great throwers. Not sure how you define field general but that’s going to favor Luck per most experts. Great leader and calls most of Stanford’s plays.

        If all of what you said were true then RGIII should be the first draft pick, not Luck, right? What are the pro scouts missing that you see?

        • Cowboy_KS December 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

          If the NFL draft scouts have a vote, I’m sure they will cast it. NFL scouts know Luck will take a step back when he throws to real receivers instead of the NBA set he has now. Of Lucks top 7 targets, 3 are 6’6″ or taller, and 4 are 6’1″ or better. No one, yes no one, has a taller longer reached set of receivers. Of RGIII’s targets with over 100 yards receiving, he has 1 over 6′ tall. Who throws better balls?

        • Mark N December 4, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

          Really? You are going to go with the argument that Luck could have run for more yards because he ran for 400+ yards the year before? Griffin could have run for 900+ yards. He has done THAT before. What else have you got?

  2. ccard December 4, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    I found it interesting that the late night ESPN coverage highlighted Griffin’s “faint” after his 4th quarter td pass and his post game comments (“. . .Baylor just won its first Heisman tonight”, etc.) as much as his game performance. Doubt his new found egotism will hurt his chances much, but it certainly won’t help. You certainly wouldn’t hear Richardson or Luck talk about a victory’s impact on their Heisman chances.

    Also, funny how, on “Championship Weekend”, the Big-12 conference with only 10 teams and no championship game, kind of stole the coverage with two spotlighted match-ups, even though they were both blow-outs. May be the difference maker in Griffin’s campaign.

    • RGIII4HEISMAN December 4, 2011 at 9:12 am #

      If you have listened to any of RGIII’s interviews, he has said for weeks now that he thought BAYLOR (not RGIII) deserved the Heisman because the award is about who generates the most excitement and Baylor has generated the most excitement. He stated again last night that BAYLOR deserves the award. He sees the Heisman as a team award, and wants it more for Baylor and his teammates than he does for himself. To me, what he said is no different than Gundy politicking for the National Championship. When asshats like Kirk Herbstreit and Craig James are going on national television and trying to claim that the race is a two man race between Richardson and Luck, and RGIII has no chance, we have no choice put to interject our own names back into the conversation.

      It worked. That comment gave ESPN no choice but to discuss RGIII’s Heisman candidacy. Good move Robert!

      Also, I can see how you might have misunderstood what he was saying (which is why I tried to clear it up for you), but I encourage you to go back and listen to some of his interviews (Dan Patrick was a great one). This kid is one of the most humble superstars I have ever had the privilege to follow. He gives all glory to God first, his teammates and coaches second. I have never once seen him toot his own horn.

      Re: Covering the Big XII. The OU-OSU was one of only two games yesterday that had National Championship implications, specifically because it WAS a blow out. The BCS Guru released an article last night predicting that OSU jumps Bama because of the WAY they beat OU, coupled with the fact that some voters will be disenchanted by the way that all the national talking heads tried to shove “the rematch” down our throats all day long. I think both Bama and OSU are deserving, but one thing is for certain. Last night’s win for OSU just made tonight’s BCS show a LOT more interesting!

      • GMan December 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

        Robert Griffin has a lot going for him. Statistically, he’s brilliant. He’s fantastic to watch. But he’s not convincing anyone that 1) the Heisman is a team award and 2) he’s humble about the process.

        The 2007 Gators did not win the Heisman. The 1998 Longhorns did not win the Heisman. Aside from maybe Nick Fairley, the 2010 Tigers did not win the Heisman. I don’t think anyone has ever made the argument that the Heisman is a team award. If RGIII wins the Heisman, it’s because he won *in spite of* his team.

        After their respective final games, RGIII said, “I could be wrong, but I feel like Baylor won its first Heisman tonight.” When ESPN asked Luck, on the field, what his Heisman statement was, he said, “Aw, I don’t know. I don’t worry about what kind of impression I make on anybody, besides the guys in this locker room. They can make what they want out of watching the game.”

        Luck has dealt with this for 14 months (SFGate article, 11/27/11: “Humility Will Be Legacy of Stanford’s Andrew Luck). RGIII is generally a nice guy, but that sort of comment really makes people not want to vote for him. He’s made his statement on the field, and he doesn’t need to endanger his campaign by proclaiming what everyone is already thinking.

        • T.Marsh December 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

          Valid points, GMan. However, consider this.

          Re: Point #2 – Prior to the conclusion of this final game, all of RG3′s responses when prompted about Heisman buzz (note – he never initiated Heisman talk) focused on two general themes: 1) credit for his performances goes to the team and 2) he’s only concerned about winning, not stats/awards. Only after the conclusion of the final regular season game did he state what he truly believes: Baylor deserves to be recognized for their historic season and the Heisman will certainly do that.

          Which brings me to Point #1 – No, the Heisman is not supposed to a team award. It’s intended for the most outstanding player (not best player) of the year. However, we all know that the award is NOT presented to an individual on a bad/poor team (and history substantiates this). Football is a team sport and regardless of how good/outstanding an individual is, he cannot single-handedly win games. If RG3 had similar stats/performances but team finished 11-1, he’d likely be clear favorite for Heisman. If RG3 had similar stats/performances but team finished 5-7, he wouldn’t even be in the running. Generally speaking, the award tends to go to best player on one of the best teams because many folks, unfortunately, echo Kirk Herbstreit’s sentiments towards players like RG3 on lower profile schools: “He’s from Baylor. He’s NOT going to win the Heisman.”

          All these candidates are worthy of the award and many may have greater NFL success longterm, but I believe RG3 is most deserving and has earned the trophy this year.

        • Laurie December 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

          He clarified on the BCS “show” last night that he was responding to the U of Texas players’ comments the week prior to the Baylor- UT game (he didn’t specify what they said, but I read the Austin paper…the players smacked talked prior to the Baylor game, and said that BU was “nothing” and that Griffin wasn’t going to win the Heisman on their watch…and many other arrogant comments from a couple of UT players). He also said that he’s not worried about the Heisman, but about the next game. He is extremely focused, humble, smart ,and the most dynamic player in college football. Sorry if you disagree, but you’re wrong, and apparently, misinformed. LOL!

  3. RGIII4HEISMAN December 4, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    RG3′s Heisman Resume:

    #1 in Pass Efficiency (192.3)
    #1 in Yards per Attempt (10.8)
    #5 in Completion Percentage (72.4)
    #6 in Yards (3998)**
    #2 in All Purpose Yards (4657)
    #4 in Passing Touchdowns (36), #2 in All Purpose Touchdowns (45)
    3rd lowest INT total of nation’s top QBs
    Did all this while playing the 8th toughest schedule according to the Sagarin Ratings, and as much as I hate to throw Baylor’s defense under the bus, we have a defense that before Saturday’s game was ranked 114th in the nation.

    If he doesn’t win the Heisman, they may as well discontinue the award. RG3 for Heisman!!!

    **Interesting note on Griffin’s passing yardage: He is the ONLY QB of the top 23 QBs in yardage to have less than 400 pass attempts (369). Comparing him directly to Andrew Luck, who everyone claims is hurt by the fact that he plays in a balanced offense, Luck has 373 pass attempts, 4 more than Griffin.

    • DJ December 4, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      RGIII got his by throwing to Kendall Wright (#1 receiving yards nationally), Terrance Williams (#49) and Tevin Reese (#61) — all well above Griff Whalen (#97, really a possession receiver). Those great tight ends? Coby Fleener was #107.

      Points scored were basically a wash — Stanford had 1 more for the season than Baylor. Not sure how Baylor had so many yards and not more points, or alternatively how Stanford was so efficient, but I think that says something. Luck had to spread his around a ton, i.e. he had fewer weapons yet still put the same points on the board. Who had to do more with less to get the job done?

      Oh, and Luck’s “horrible” performance against Oregon (the thing people always bring up as his downfall)? In the team’s only loss he still put up more points than Baylor did in losing to either Texas A&M or Oklahoma State.

    • GMan December 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Also, it would have been fine to say “only one of the top 10 QBs in yardage,” “only one of the top 15 QBs in yardage,” or even “only one of the top 20 QBs in yardage,” but it’s tough to get over the fact that you manipulated the stats (Luck is number 24, hence “top 23″) to state your case.

      • RGIII4HEISMAN December 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

        I didn’t manipulate the stats. I was looking at them and thought it was crazy that Griffin had the 6th most yards with so fewer attempts than anyone on the list. Then I just counted how many far I’d have to go down the list to find someone else under 400 attempts, and the number was 23. Don’t see how that’s manipulating data. I presented facts.

    • Wheezy December 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

      Discontinue the award? Cmon this is not like the underclassman Herschel Walker Sophomore snub.

  4. cardinalfan December 4, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I’m a current Stanford student who hasn’t missed a home game while Luck has been here – big fan. And I can honestly say, I’m happy it looks like its down to Luck and RGIII. Both have had absolutely amazing years, both are very good students (both high school valedictorians), and both are responsible for elevating their teams to heights they had never seen before. I wouldn’t be disappointed if RGIII took it, even though I think Luck deserves it with a slight edge. But I’m happy Stanford probably won’t get robbed by another Alabama running back (Ingram over Gerhart? please!), when Alabama would probably have the same record without Trent Richardson.

  5. texshorn2005 December 4, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    As a Texas fan, I now know what it was like for opposing fans have to watch Vince Young do the impossible. RG3 is quite simply awesome. If Baylor only had a decent defense (not withstanding the hurt they put on Texas last night), I have no doubt they would be playing for the MNC. I like Luck who’ll likely be a fantastic pro, but there’s little room for argument that he’s had the better season than RG3.

  6. MarkM December 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I’ve always thought your analysis was well-reasoned and informative. It still is, but you’ve generally failed to realize that Richardson’s support is far broader than you’re reporting. Even you own straw poll last week seemed to point to that, but you made very little out of it. You’ve been focused on QBs for most of the season, and it’s as if you were looking for RGIII to underscore your assumption that a QB will win it. You may be right, but before you make your final pick, I’d suggest you do a little more research into Richardson’s support. The QBs, including Barkley, by the way, are far more likely to cancel each other out than Ball is likely to take any significant support from Richardson. There is no real support for Ball, and the Honey Badger is just a side show. If you don’t choose Richardson, you’re going to miss this year’s pick.

  7. Denise Tinkham December 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    MY VOTE IS FOR RG3! The stats and numbers speak for themselves (some appear almost surreal!); however, the kid has class and has shown nothing but respect for the game, his teammates, coaches, and opponents. It’s about time we had a class-act role model in college football this season, and Robert Griffin is THE MAN for the job!!! I CERTAINLY HOPE THE VOTERS WILL DO THE RIGHT THING AND VOTE FOR RG3!

    Old Virginia Mom with a house-full of teenaged boys…

  8. Wheezy December 4, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    I feel that RG III had many ups, but he also had as many or more “downs” than Weeden. After what Weeden did to Okla., it almost takes a little sheen off of RG III’s last minute heroics vs. the very same Okla. team. In summary, Okla. may have not been as good as the pollsters thought, and these two QB’s will be competing for regional Heisman votes. They are both awesome, but they are going to take away votes from one another. Too bad USC is on probation – Barkley would have that same ‘steal my thunder’ effect on Luck.

    • Laurie December 5, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      RG3 still had over 400 yds against Oklahoma State and in all three losses.

  9. Ryan December 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    RGIII deserves the Heisman. He will win. Nobody else can match his stats, and what he has done turning around a Baylor program that hadn’t been relevant in years.

  10. Martelli December 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Luck is good, but he’s playing in the PAC12, which is very weak compared to the Big12 or SEC. I’ve got to go with Griffin on this one. Baylor is #8 in the nation for strength of schedule and has beaten several ranked teams.

  11. AUman76 December 5, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    Martelli, you just compared the lil12-2 to the SEC? LMAO Just how many NC Trophies have they won
    lately? Offense usually look great against bad defenses and the pac1 and lil12-2 both have plenty
    of terrible defenses. I know a bad defense when I see one cause my AU Tigers have one of the worst!
    Once UF, UT, and AU rebuild the SEC will be even better. Gonna be hard for anyone to put up huge
    offensive numbers in the SEC but the SEC will keep on winning Titles while the nation settles for
    personal rewards. There’s no I in team but their is in HeIsman.
    The question is how much of any player’s numbers are inflated due to poor competetion? These days
    the answer is too much.

    • Laurie December 5, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      AUman76, 2 things..
      …You obviously haven’t heard Griffin speak. He consistently says that the Heisman is a team award, and he always gives credit to his O-line and receivers.
      Secondly, I agree SEC is the best conference, but it is too bad that Okla. St. didn’t have a chance to play LSU in January. With a very flawed BCS system, and all the politics involved in the selection of bowls, I think this year (and maybe a few others) proves that the SEC gets a few more opportunities than is fair. But…life and sports are not fair…so be it.

  12. DJ Drummond December 5, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Sure hope Griffin wins this year. It would great for a lot of people. First off, Griffin has been the most exciting and consistent player in football this season, as anyone who was watching knows. Second, he now has THREE signature games where his play won the game. Third, Griffin has won by throwing for scores, running for scores, catching the occasional pass, and now great blocking in a crucial down to keep a drive alive. He’s as complete a package as you can find.

    But in addition to his athletio skills, Griffin has demonstrated tremendous leadership skills, his integrity is top-grade, and yet he remains humble and hungry. Robert Griffin III not only represents his team and university very well, he stands for all that’s good in football, a true sportsman, student, and athlete.

  13. Laurie December 5, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Thank goodness more voters are seeing that Griffin III should win the Heisman! His stats are amazing, his athleticism and toughness even more amazing. Luck is a good player, but if Griffin III had Luck’s offensive line and defense, Griffin III would have an undefeated seaon. Griffin has “moves” that have produced several “Heisman moments” this season! We won’t see another athlete like him for a long time! Plus he’s a class act, graduated in three years with honors, and has the character that should be expected from a Heisman winner.
    Luck seems to be a good guy as well, but I just can’t see him winning when he barely beat an un-ranked Cal team and got crushed by Oregon. I’m sure he will be a great NFL player, but that is not what this award is about.
    As far as Trent Richardson goes, I believe that any good RB could have the same stats as Trent if they had the Alabama team (O-line) that he does. He’s a good athlete, but not a “difference-maker” in my opinion. Plus, LaMichael James had better stats than Trent, and he missed several games.

    Glad you are a fair and informed voter!!!!! Good to see that some voters really do observe and study the candidates before rushing to declare their vote, based on what some have predicted since August (or even earlier).

  14. darren lee December 5, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    keep in mind too that Luck has one of the best offensive line in football too if we keep hearing about how Luck doesn’t have talent around him. he also has a very good tight end and their defense is good too. with a good defense like that, it allows the offensive more opportunities on the field.

    baylor’s horrible defense puts more pressure on RGIII to basically take over than anything. baylor’s offensive players wouldn’t look so good if it wasn’t the mobility of RGIII. the receivers are wide open cause RGIII is able to not get sacked most of the time giving the receivers time to get open . RGIII’s ability to run also keeps opposing defenses honest, thus allowing his teammates to find ways to get open.RGIII also has not had a bad game all year even with baylor’s 3 losses. RGIII is the best college player this year.

  15. Randy Messer December 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Key points everyone seems to miss. The defensive rankings of the teams they actually play.

    RG3′s Competition: AVG (Points given up) Defensive ranking 71
    TR Competition: AVG (Points given up) Defensive ranking 42
    AL Competition: AVG (Points given up) Defensive ranking 79

    RG3 played agaist 2, that right 2 teams defenses that were ranked better than what TR’s average was. AL played against 1 better than TR’s average. Can you say no comparison. A good QB could put up great numbers against that kind of competition. Hense when they lost, they lost against a pretty pathetic defense too.

    Too bad voters aren’t smart enough to figure these things out before they vote…..