Here’s my appearance on JT the Brick from Tuesday night. I come on about at about the 13:30 mark.
Here’s my appearance on JT the Brick from Tuesday night. I come on about at about the 13:30 mark.
LIFE Magazine’s edition the week of Nov. 29, 1963 included two cover options — one for recently murdered President John F. Kennedy, the other for Navy quarterback Roger Staubach, who was about to win that year’s Heisman Trophy.
I don’t think I can recall a Heisman Trophy front runner who faces a closing schedule that is less compelling than the one Jameis Winston now faces.
The Seminoles will play Idaho on Saturday, then a 5-6 Florida team and then, most likely, Duke.
And I am beginning to wonder if it will have some effect on his Heisman hopes. To wit, will voters bother to tune in to watch him in these final weeks?
With FSU’s win over Miami earlier this month (and before that Clemson) still relatively fresh in the minds of voters, Winston’s candidacy hasn’t really been affected much by scheduling issues up to this point. But there remains a chance that he has peaked too soon and that the more intriguing matchups featuring the other candidates could, in these closing weeks, whittle away at the case he has built for himself.
Past winners have tended to play in high-profile games toward the end of the season that have enabled them to put a final stamp on their Heisman resumes. Since 80 to 90 percent of Heisman voters wait until the last week to fill out their ballots, they can be heavily influenced by what takes place in the traditional matchups and conference title games that happen at the end of the year. Sometimes, what they see merely confirms what they’ve been thinking the whole time. Other times, it brings new information that enables them to make up their mind.
Therefore, unless enough voters have already made up their minds about Winston for him to win, we probably won’t see much movement his way in the final weeks. Those who are undecided or persuadable one way or another will probably not tune in to see FSU take on Duke since the Pac-12 and Big Ten title games are also scheduled for that time slot while Baylor is scheduled to take on Texas in what could be a de facto Big 12 title game. If anything, we may see some movement away from him, unless the other candidates fail to provide compelling cases on their own. So the question is: Has he built up enough of a lead in the minds of voters for his remaining schedule to keep him afloat?
To illustrate what Winston might be up against, here are the final three games of the most recent Heisman winners:
Johnny Manziel — Alabama, Sam Houston State, Missouri
Robert Griffin III — Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas
Cameron Newton — Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina
Mark Ingram — Chattanooga, Auburn, Florida
Sam Bradford — Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Missouri
Tim Tebow — South Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida State
Troy Smith — Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan
Reggie Bush — California, Fresno State, UCLA
Matt Leinart — Arizona, Notre Dame, UCLA
Jason White — Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State
Carson Palmer — Arizona State, UCLA, Notre Dame
Eric Crouch — Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado
I could keep going further back, but I don’t think I’ll find a trio of games that holds less intrigue than what’s in store for FSU and Winston. It could be that it won’t matter, that Winston has already shown enough to voters and that he is, essentially, the Heisman Trophy winner in waiting.
But the contrast between his schedule and those of his competitors is enough to compel me to hold off on making such a pronouncement for now.
Reports of an investigation into allegations surrounding Jameis Winston have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of voters for his Heisman candidacy, as the Florida State freshman quarterback once again led the HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll released on Tuesday (Nov. 19).
Winston captured six out of 10 first-place votes from the weekly panel of Heisman voters, and totaled 20 points, down slightly from his 22-point total last week, but still ahead of second-place Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, who also dropped a couple points (2 first-place votes, 18 points).
The biggest gainer since the last poll was Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who seemingly culled support from both Winston and Manziel to move into third with 11 points and a first-place vote.
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who led the poll as recently as a couple weeks ago, dropped into fourth place with six points and one first-place vote.
Now in its eighth season, the HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll is the college football world’s most trusted gauge of Heisman voter sentiment. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons, with the final 2012 poll correctly picking the top five finishers and the final 2011 poll picking the top seven. This year’s poll is made up of 10 anonymous Heisman voters from across the country. Each week during the season they will pick three players. Tabulations for the preseason poll are tabulated like a real Heisman ballot, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.
Each week’s poll is released on Tuesdays throughout the season at HeismanPundit.com.
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll, 11/19/2013
Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 20 (6)
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 18 (2)
3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — 11 (1)
4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – 6 (1)
5. (tie) AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama — 2
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois — 2
7. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College — 1
In some areas, he’s clearly ahead of where he was in 2012. For instance, he has improved his passing efficiency, his completion percentage, his passing yards per game and his number of touchdown passes. However, he is not gaining nearly as many rushing yards or scoring nearly as many rushing touchdowns as he did last season when he led the SEC in those categories.
Some contend that the decline in his ground game production is due to his development as a passer and that’s a valid argument to make.
But there’s one area where he has clearly taken a step backward.
At the time of his Heisman triumph last season, Manziel had eight interceptions in 400 attempts. He’s got 11 in 315 attempts so far this season. That’s a significant increase
Now, I’ve always been of the belief that there will never be another two-time Heisman winner and that the factors that sink attempted repeaters tend to be more ephemeral than concrete. So perhaps Manziel’s interception total is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things, but I do believe it’s a factor that is weighing him down.
To better illustrate why that may be the case, let’s look at the interception totals of the past 12 Heisman quarterbacks at the time of the Heisman vote:
2012 — Manziel — 8
2011 — Robert Griffin III — 6
2010 — Cameron Newton — 6
2008 — Sam Bradford — 6
2007 — Tim Tebow — 6
2006 — Troy Smith — 5
2004 — Matt Leinart — 6
2003 — Jason White — 8
2002 — Carson Palmer — 10
2001 — Eric Crouch — 10
2000 — Chris Weinke — 11
1996 — Danny Wuerffel — 12
So you have to go back all the way to 1996 to find a Heisman-winning quarterback who has thrown more interceptions than Manziel has so far this season in 10 games. Manziel’s pick total looks even worse when considered in the context of current quarterback-friendly systems that have conditioned voters to expect relatively low numbers in this category (note that the higher totals come further back, before the advent of the spread).
Combine Manziel’s historically-high interception total with the abnormally low totals by his current Heisman rivals Marcus Mariota (0) and Bryce Petty (1), plus the conventionally-low number by front runner Jameis Winston (7) and there’s a stark contrast to be made in this area.
I don’t think Manziel’s 11 interceptions are, by themselves, the reason voters will downgrade his candidacy. But I do think they make his otherwise daunting task of winning a second Heisman much more difficult.
There’s a been a lot of talk lately about which Heisman candidate has the best stats, but most of the arguments are skewed by the disparity the candidates have in games played and total plays run.
If you look how many plays it takes for each candidate to produce a touchdown (either running or passing), however, here’s how they rank:
1. Bryce Petty – 1 out of 8.41
2. Jameis Winston — 1 out of 10.29
3. Marcus Mariota — 1 out of 10.32
4. Johnny Manziel — 1 out of 10.89
5. AJ McCarron — 1 out of 13.33
6. Tajh Boyd — 1 out of 13.53
7. Jordan Lynch — 1 out of 13.80
8. Teddy Bridgewater — 1 out of 14.58
9. Derek Carr — 1 out of 14.59
Here is the week 13 edition of the 2013 Heismanpundit Heisman Watch. After taking into account the games played so far, these are the players who have the best chance of actually winning the Heisman. I’m certain at this point that the Heisman winner will come from this group. This is not a prediction of the final order of the race, nor is it an endorsement of who would or should win if the vote were held today. It’s a long view of the race that takes into account schedule and statistical trends.
Winston appeared completely unphased by the off-the-field issues that emerged this past week and was as sharp as ever against Syracuse, completing 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in just one half of play. As a result, he remains the Heisman front runner. However, the longer the investigation lingers, the greater the possibility there will be that some voters may open themselves up to considering alternative candidates. As it is, he’s on pace to hit the magic 40 total touchdown mark, which has been the minimum criteria in the past few seasons to compete for the Heisman. Playing for a traditional Heisman power like FSU that just so happens to be competing for a national title makes his candidacy even more formidable. However, with games against Idaho, Florida and (most likely) Duke coming up, I wonder if he’s going to be able to maintain the momentum needed to blunt any late charges by other contenders who might be playing more appealing opponents. There’s no doubt he’ll continue to put up efficient numbers, but how long will he play against Idaho and will voters remember that when they are taking into account his overall stats resume? While he is the player most likely to win the Heisman at this point, the combination of his incredibly light schedule and nagging off-the-field issues makes his candidacy a bit more vulnerable than most front runners this late in a season.
Last Game: 19/21, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, in a 59-3 win over Syracuse
Season Stats: 185/261, 2,938 yards, 70.9%, 28 TDs, 7 Ints, 195.48 rating, 58 carries, 189 yards, 3 TDs
Next Game: Idaho
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,822 passing yards, 36 TDs, 9 Ints, 221 rush yards, 4 TDs
For the second-straight week, Petty produced five touchdowns running and passing, this time against Texas Tech in a 63-34 drubbing in Arlington. He is increasing his production at just the right time — with the competition stiffening and the national profile of his team increasing. He’s now on pace to have over 4,000 yards of offense and 45 total touchdowns, which would be right in the wheelhouse of recent Heisman winners. What’s more, his overall stat line remains gaudy, with his efficiency rating of 206.23 on pace to break the all-time NCAA mark set by Russell Wilson a couple years ago and his touchdown-to-interception ratio projected to be in the 32-to-1 range. Baylor now takes on another top 10 foe, this time Oklahoma State. This should be the marquee game of the weekend, with ABC carrying it in prime time on the East Coast. Meanwhile, FSU plays Idaho, Alabama plays Chattanooga and Oregon plays Arizona, which means he will have the spotlight all to himself (although another intriguing matchup that could impact the Heisman race will take place earlier in the day between LSU and Texas A&M). If Petty has another outstanding day against Oklahoma State and the Bears move to 10-0, look for him to start making real inroads with Heisman voters. If Petty’s numbers continue to surge and Baylor is undefeated heading into its final game against Texas, some people might see the Heisman as a fitting consolation prize for a team that looks like it might get shut out of a chance at the national title.
Last Game: 17/31, 335 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 rush yards, 2 rushing TDs in a 63-34 win over Texas Tech
Season Stats: 152/233, 2,992 yards, 65.2%, 24 TDs, 1 Ints, 206.23 rating, 53 carries, 127 yards, 10 TDs
Next Game: No. 10 Oklahoma State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,989 passing yards, 32 TDs, 1 INTs, 169 rush yards, 13 TDs
It takes a bit of luck to win a Heisman and Mariota received some this past weekend when USC defeated Stanford. This put Oregon back into the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 North title, which means the Ducks are likely to play in the Pac-12 title game. So Mariota will have an extra game to not only pad his production, but he’ll also have a marquee matchup against a quality team to draw attention to his candidacy just as voters are filling out their ballots. Mariota and Oregon bounced back against Utah as he threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-21 win. It looks like Mariota’s knee problems are preventing him from producing the rushing totals we’ve become accustomed to, but he’s still on pace for 4,300 yards and 45 total touchdowns, which is completely in line with what recent Heisman winners have produced. One hook that should start to emerge in his favor is his remarkable interception stat. Can he finish a full season without a pick? No quarterback has ever gone without an interception while attempting more than 350 passes in a season (Mariota is on pace to attempt 372) and his current streak of 353 attempts without a pick is 91 short of the all-time NCAA mark set by Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech in 2011-12. If Mariota stays on his current pace and winds up with 33 passing touchdowns and no interceptions for a 12-1 team while breaking a few records along the way, he might remain a very attractive candidate to a lot of voters who at one time had him atop their ballots.
Last Game: 19/27, 288 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 4 carries, -18 yards in a 44-21 win over Utah
Season Stats: 183/285, 2,819 yards, 64.2%, 25 TDs, 0 Ints, 176.24 rating, 66 carries, 477 yards, 9 TDs
Next Opponent: at Arizona
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,666 passing yards, 33 TDs, 0 Ints., 624 rushing yards, 12 TDs
McCarron is barely hanging on in this race and only the possibility that he might produce a dramatic outcome in the upcoming showdown with Auburn in a couple weeks keeps him relevant. He still has a lot of ground to make up, but the Auburn and SEC title games definitely afford him that opportunity. However, he’ll need both Winston and Petty to suffer severe dropoffs (or losses) and he’ll need to finish the season on a tear to have a chance to actually win. As it stands, he may not make it to New York, but with the uncertainty in the air about Winston, it’s hard to take him off this list just yet.
Last Game: 18/32, 187 yards, 2 TDs, 2 Ints in a 20-7 win over Mississippi State
Season Stats: 177/261, 2,228 yards, 67.8%, 21 TDs, 5 Ints, 162.24 rating
Next Game: Chattanooga
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,899 passing yards, 27 TDs, 7 Ints
If the vote was held today:
6. Jordan Lynch
7. Teddy Bridgewater
8. Tajh Boyd
9. Andre Williams
10. Braxton Miller
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State -- 18 (6)
2. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College -- 16
3. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama -- 8 (2)
Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football.
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