Tag Archives | Alabama

Heisman D-Day No. 1: Ryan Mallett and Alabama

Setting the table for today:

There are currently four major candidates for the 2010 Heisman Trophy and several minor candidates behind them trying to gain traction.

As the race now stands, the leader (if the vote were held today) is a sophomore quarterbacking phenom from a traditional power who has burst onto the scene with his passing and running.  He is on pace for a record-breaking season.

Not far behind him–and with more overall advantages in the campaign–is a junior quarterback with elite size and athleticism (and good name recognition) who is in his third year as a starter and is also from a traditional power, though one that is competing for the national title.

Then there is the gutty and diminutive junior from the upstart national title-contending program whose passing numbers and winning percentage as a starter are unmatched and whose Heisman fortunes are, more than anyone else, tied in with those of his team. 

Finally, we get to the mountainous junior quarterback with the rocket arm who may well set all kinds of SEC records before he’s through. 

Denard Robinson and Terrelle Pryor will not see their Heisman hopes change much as a result of what happens in their games today.  And while Kellen Moore’s Heisman aspirations could be dealt a mortal blow if Boise State loses to Oregon State, he’s not going to jump over Robinson and Pryor if the Broncos win.

The one player who has the most to gain from Saturday is Ryan Mallett.

If Mallett plays well and leads the Razorbacks to a win over No. 1 Alabama, I think he’s got a chance to move into the No. 1 spot in the Heisman race or, at the worst, dislodge Pryor for the No. 2 spot.

If the Razorbacks lose a closely-contested game despite Mallett playing well–or if Arkansas wins despite Mallett being ineffective–I think he can stick around in third or fourth place and be in position for a late season Heisman run if the Hogs win out and he puts up some sick numbers.

But if Mallett plays poorly and Alabama wins, then his Heisman hopes will be difficult to revive unless the contenders ahead of him hit similiar road bumps.  One thing in Mallett’s favor is that the remainder of the Arkansas schedule features some ‘name’ teams like Texas A&M, Auburn and LSU, but the Hogs are likely to be favored to beat each of them, depending on what happens today.

What kind of game does Mallet have to have to take control of the race?  I’m thinking he needs over 300 yards and 3 TDs with no costly picks.  That would be impressive against a tough–although untested–’Bama defense. 

Well, the table is set.  Time to watch the games.

Feel free to comment below as the day goes on…I’d love to get everyone’s thoughts on week four.

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Heismandment No. 9 Strikes, Mark Ingram Out With Injury

Just as it did for Sam Bradford last year, and just as it has for every other returning Heisman winner–save one–for the past 76 years, Heismandment No. 9 has once again exacted its tribute.

Alabama will be without Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram for Saturday’s opener against San Jose State, and probably longer, after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee Tuesday morning.

His return for the Penn State game looks to be unlikely.

This just illustrates how difficult it is to have consecutive healthy, productive and Heisman-worthy seasons, especially when you are a work-horse back like Ingram.

I don’t doubt that he will come back to put up some good production this year–Ingram’s a warrior with a big heart, after all.  But we can pretty much count him out for the Heisman in 2010 which, of course, is what I have written all along (to the consternation of so many of you).

In the meantime, here’s hoping his recovery goes well and he’s back out on the field soon.

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Could Ingram Be The First Heisman Winner to Fade into Obscurity While Still in School?

We’re knee-deep in a new Heisman age, with the last three winners coming from the sophomore class.

From the current vantage point, it appears the first two–Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford–stand a bit apart (categorically) from the most recent winner, Mark Ingram of Alabama.

Here’s why: Both Tebow and Bradford won the Heisman relatively comfortably while putting up earth-shattering statistics from the quarterback position.  Ingram, however, took home the trophy in the closest race in Heisman history while producing very good, though not ground-breaking, numbers as a running back.  Neither Tebow nor Bradford shared significant playing time with their backups, as Ingram did with true freshman Trent Richardson (145 carries, 751 yards, 8 TDS).  The result was that at no time during their Heisman-winning seasons was an observer able to credibly suppose that their backups might at least be comparable in talent, as was the case when watching Ingram and Richardson perform.  Obviously, this comparison was possible due to the different natures of the quarterback and running back positions.  Star signal callers rarely come out of a game when it matters, while even the best running backs need a breather once in a while.  As a result, we were able to see a top recruit like Richardson acquit himself quite well in several games.

We are all familiar with past Heisman winners who have flopped or fallen off the map post-college on their way to becoming the butt of jokes.  But Ingram’s situation raises the possibility that he could be the first Heisman winner to dramatically decline in productivity and status while still in school.  Not because of anything he will have done wrong, but because the guy emerging behind him is really talented and might be given a fair shot at being just as productive (if not more so).

Obviously, this is not a fait accompli.  A lot could happen in the next two years.  Ingram could keep improving and build upon his outstanding sophomore season with two more excellent efforts and go down as one of the more prolific backs of the last two decades.  Heck, maybe he’ll win two Heismans. 

But no other returning Heisman winner–much less one with two years remaining in his career–has ever had his primacy challenged to the degree that Ingram has by Richardson.   Increasingly, it looks like the two are operating as a tandem, with neither holding the upper hand in the carry department. 

If Ingram finishes his career in a steady-though-not-spectacular fashion due to the emergence of Richardson, we might have a hard time remembering that he won the Heisman in the first place.  Especially if Richardson wins the Heisman in his own right.

It’s not a bad problem for Alabama to have.  If Ingram keeps getting better and rises to the challenge, then he could be a factor in Heisman races to come.  But if Richardson fulfills his promise, he’ll also be smack-dab in that same conversation.  Or, both could end up being major stars and Heisman candidates, churning out thousands of yards between them, a la LenDale White and Reggie Bush at USC.  Again, not a bad problem for the Tide.

So I think the answer to the question of this post’s title is:  Not probable, but certainly an interesting possibility. 

Will Trent Richardson spoil Mark Ingram’s Heisman image?

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

I posited earlier in the season that Alabama–which has never won a Heisman–would probably win one in the near future due to the Tide’s return to elite status under Nick Saban.

Of course with the emergence of Mark Ingram, that future could be arriving a lot sooner than we thought! 

I think the lack of Alabama Heismans could actually work in Ingram’s favor if he stays at or near the top of the race.  After all, Alabama is one of the top three or four programs in college football history and it seems odd that it has never won this individual honor.  I think some Heisman voters might take that into account when ballots are due.

One thing I’ve noticed in past discussions of the Heisman and Alabama is the attitude of Tide fans toward the trophy.  Many profess to be disinterested (at best) in the award, but I’ve always chalked up that sentiment to the dearth of Alabama Heisman candidates over the years rather than a true distaste for the tradition.

Given that, my question right now is:  Will Ingram’s campaign cause Alabama fans to finally embrace the Heisman?

ingram

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