Heisman Weekend Preview

With the emergence of Johnny Manziel on the Heisman scene these last couple weeks, a battle over statistics has begun to rage. In the Manziel camp the loudest supporters are touting his superior stats (as JUST a freshman!) for why he should be the Heisman frontrunner. In the Klein camp, the words like leader, toughness, and MVP are being thrown around to make voters look first at the man and then the statistics. Both groups are actually selling themselves short. Heres why:

For Johnny Football, yes, his raw stats are better than Collin Klein’s, but only marginally. Manziel has accounted for 3,794 total yards to Klein’s 2,578, the largest disparate statistic between the two. Manziel has 33 total touchdowns to Klein’s 31. Klein actually has a better completion percentage 69.7% to Manziel’s 67.6% and a significantly better passer rating, 167.65 to 151.7. Klein has also only thrown three interceptions this year to Manziel’s six.

Outside of the total yardage, Manziel’s statistics do nothing to prove that he deserves the Heisman more than Klein. In actuality statistics matter less if you win games and Klein has won all of his this year while Manziel and Texas A&M have lost two of their first 10. Plus, their yards per play is basically equal at 7.7 yards per play. Manziel has run 130 more plays than Klein and that explains why his yardage total is higher.

What HeisManziel fans should be touting is his narrative instead. Texas A&M was supposed to struggle its first year in the SEC, but has been rescued by a freshman phenom who broke SEC passing records, became the best offensive player in the league and knocked off the No. 1 team in the country who oh-by-the-way was the defending national champion. That is what will carry Johnny Football (and maybe a little bit of the nickname), not similar statistics to players on national championship contending teams.

Lastly for Manziel, let him get in front of a microphone. His story this year is too good to not hear it from the creator. Unless the kid has a mouthful of marbles, his soundbites are going to be gold. If he’s articulate and charming he could swing the race. College football fans love a great story and that could be Manziel’s calling card.

For Klein the character stuff is all well and good but his marketing team needs to lean on his stats a bit more. It’s a fact in this race that no one yet has outlandish stats that are going to completely separate them from the rest of the pack. For Klein this is an advantage because while his raw numbers are on par with the field, certain Klein statistics portray an anomaly that tells the story of the (potentially) best player in college football.

The first number Kansas State needs to point to is zero, the number of losses Klein has suffered this year. Assuming the Wildcats win out, the zero will be the most important number of all. Kansas State isn’t supposed to be playing for a national championship this year, at least not according to the preseason pundits. It took an exemplary player with a unique skill set to turn a 7-6 team two years ago into a national contender this year.

The next two statistics that Klein’s camp should be leaning on are his passer efficiency ratings and the number of rushing touchdowns. Klein is second in the nation in rushing touchdowns and currently eighth in passer efficiency. To be so high in both categories indicates that Klein is both one of the elite passers and runners in the country.

Klein looks like a linebacker, but he isn’t a physical specimen like Cam Newton and he doesn’t have Sam Bradford’s prototypical arm. Even without his physical prowess he is about to become the first player in FBS history to have 20 rushing and 10 passing touchdowns in multiple seasons. Sound like an anomaly to me.

Games to Watch

The Pac 12 has the two most exciting games this week as USC heads to UCLA in the rivalry that has taken a bitter turn this year and Stanford travels to Oregon.

In the Big 12 Kansas State plays Baylor in what is sure to be a shootout and Texas Tech plays Oklahoma State in a battle of ranked opponents.

In the SEC this is the schedule (also known as games not to watch):

Alabama vs Western Carolina

Florida vs Jacksonville State

South Carolina vs Wofford

Georgia vs Georgia Southern

Auburn vs Alabama A&M

Texas A&M  vs Sam Houston State (great way to follow up your Heisman contender’s break out game)

Kentucky vs Samford

Stay classy SEC.


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2 Responses to Heisman Weekend Preview

  1. Steve in SETX November 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Here’s the most telling stats that few pundits know:

    Colin Klein is just the #5 QB in the Big XII and averages 10 yds LESS per game than the opposing defense averages “giving up”

    Johnny Manziel is the SEC’s #1 Rusher and #2 Passer and averages 140 yards MORE per game than defenses are giving up. Plus, he’s faced better defenses than Klein.

  2. David C November 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Your premise that yards dont matter but wins do was not the case last year was it? Nevermind, we’ll look over that for now.

    How about quality of competition? Theres a reason that Graham Harrell and Colt Brennan never won the Heisman, and it is because the level of competition they faced was significantly lower than the eventual winners. Manziel is clearly ahead in this regard and its odd that you did not address this.

    How about signature win? Klein’s is over whom? How good was the defense he played in his signature win? How was his performance relative to the other QB’s that defense faced? Would you agree that these are important considerations?

    Stats dont tell the whole story, on that we agree. But they are a consideration for certain and Manziel is clearly ahead in all statistical categories, wide margin or otherwise; still ahead.

    Manziel has performed at a higher level, against stiffer competition, and has his signature Heisman win against #1 Bama at home, with multiple Heisman moments. Can you identify one such moment for klein?

    In A&M’s loss to LSU, Manziel had the best game of any QB all year against the tigers, and Johnny’s #1 fan Sam Montgomery. He gained more yards than Connor Shaw, Jeff Driskill, and AJ McCarron combined did against LSU.

    You really need to skew the numbers and tilt your head and squint your eyes to make the case for Klein. Johnny though, just jumps off the page. Cold. Fact.