Tag Archives | Heisman Trophy

The HP Heisman Watch, Week 8

Now for my list of the players who currently stand the best chance of actually winning the Heisman.  This is not a predicted order of the final vote, nor the order of how the vote would go if held today.  Some players not on this list are likely to receive support, but not enough to win. 

So, here is the HP Heisman Watch after eight weeks of football.  We are down to three players.  Barring injury, all three of them will make it to New York, but just one will win the 2010 Heisman:

1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn–It’s been quite a journey for Newton.  The last player to come straight from junior college and make such a splash in the Heisman race was O.J. Simpson, who finished a close second to Gary Beban in 1967.  Well, Newton’s 49-yard run against LSU was certainly Simpson-esque the way he weaved through the Tiger defense.    That run and the 217 rushing yards he put up on LSU has pushed him into the front of this watch list.  The Heisman is his to lose and, looking at Auburn’s remaining schedule, it looks like he’ll be in good shape in this race right up until the last game against Alabama.  I believe he can clinch the trophy by playing well against the Tide, win or lose.  If he leads the Tigers to a win there, followed by an SEC title game victory, he’ll capture the Heisman in a runaway.  If he plays well but Auburn loses to Alabama, he’ll still be the favorite heading into the ceremony, though the vote will be much closer.  If he plays poorly in the runup to that game, or the Tide defense shuts him down, that will open the door for other candidates to snatch the Heisman away from him.

Current Stats: 90/138 (65.2%), 1,364 yds, 13 TDs, 5 INTs, 172.1 rtg; 157 att, 1,077 rush yds (6.9 ypc), 14 TDs

Projected Season Stats*: 2,046 passing yds, 20 TDs, 8 INTs; 1,615 rush yds, 21 TDs

2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon–James helped his cause by having a nice game in a romp over UCLA last Thursday (123 yards, 2 touchdowns), but whatever ground he gained in the race was given back after Newton’s performance against LSU.  James has a chance to get some of that momentum back this Saturday when the Ducks take on USC.  If he has a monster game against the Trojans and the Ducks roll, he’ll be in good shape.  However, the buzz around James pales in comparison to all the talk of Newton at the moment.  A modern day quarterback who can run and pass–and one who is a physical specimen at that–seems especially hard for voters to ignore.  James will have to be extra special from here on out if he wants to catch Newton. 

Current Stats: 134 att, 971 yards, 11 TDs, 7.2 ypc; 4 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD

Projected Season Stats*: 1,780 yards, 20 TDs; 7 catches, 207 yards, 2 TDs

3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–Moore and his team were idle last week, but the Broncos have a Tuesday night matchup against Louisiana Tech.  Moore remains the candidate of last resort in that voters find him to be a perfectly acceptable choice but are not exactly rushing to proclaim him to be the most outstanding player just yet.    His campaign for the Heisman mirror his team’s quest for the BCS title.  It will require the more exciting players ahead of him to falter a bit for him to have a shot.  At the same time, he’s probably already assured himself of no worse than a third-place finish in the race.  He will appear on almost every ballot, so he’s within striking distance.  It helps that his numbers are quickly becoming ridiculous.  He leads the nation in passing efficiency with a mark of 190.36, which as it stands is an NCAA record.  Furthermore, he now has 55 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his last 20 games.  His record as a starter is 32-1 and BSU has now won 20-straight under his leadership.  It could well be that his numbers alone end up making his case–not to mention his status as the quarterback for an undefeated team–but it would really help him if the players ahead of him–especially Newton–screw up.  Also, I think Boise State’s sports information people need to start making the case for Moore, or all his impressive stats will get lost in the hubbub over Newton’s spectacular play.

Current Stats: 105/151 (69.5%), 1,567 yds, 16 TDs, 1 INTs, 190.36 rtg

Projected Season Stats*: 3,132 passing yards, 32 TDs, 2 INTs

*–Denotes projected stats at time of the Heisman vote

If the vote were held today

1. Cameron Newton

2. LaMichael James

3. Kellen Moore

4. Denard Robinson

5. Terrelle Pryor

6. Andrew Luck

7. Taylor Martinez

8. Justin Blackmon

9. Blaine Gabbert

10. Matt Barkley

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Cameron Newton and the Heisman Trophy

Eight weeks into the season, Auburn’s Cameron Newton is the front runner to win the 2010 Heisman Trophy.

Playing well in big games in front of big audiences is the key to winning the Heisman and his performance against LSU has lifted his candidacy above the others in the race.  Now, the trophy is his to lose.

Newton is a unique figure in college football: He combines Vince Young’s size and escapability with Tim Tebow’s power running and toughness.  He’s not particularly refined as a passer, but he doesn’t need to be.  But when he does pass, he’s efficient, as his 172.08 passer rating attests.

At this rate, he would be the first quarterback since Eric Crouch of Nebraska in 2001 to win the Heisman primarily because of his running ability.  Here’s a look at his O.J.-like run through the LSU defense:

It’s this kind of run that is quickly cementing his status as a legend at Auburn, even if he is (essentially) eight games into his college career.

There are two other candidates in this race:  Oregon’s LaMichael James and Boise State’s Kellen Moore.  Barring a late-season surge by another candidate (or an unforeseen drop by the current ones), Newton, James and Moore look to be the three finalists heading to New York.

Newton’s path to the Heisman is somewhat favorable.  The Tigers play Ole Miss, Chattanooga and Georgia in the next three weeks.  I don’t think these teams will have much success in stopping him or Auburn, which means there could be an end-of-season showdown for all the marbles against Alabama on Nov. 26, a Thanksgiving Friday, with the whole country watching.

By then, it’s possible that Newton will have built up such a body of work, that a good performance in a loss might still snag him the Heisman.  Obviously, a win over the Tide would clinch it, not only because of the accolades and glory that would arise from beating a respected rival, but also because it would send Auburn to the SEC title game and give Newton another game to add to an already-impressive season resume.

Besides injury or a dropoff in performance, who or what can stop Newton from winning the Heisman? 

The answer to that is James and Alabama.  The nation’s leading rusher has a marquee matchup at USC next Saturday.  If he comes up big in that game, he’ll be able to keep pace with Newton. The race and the ensuing debate the rest of the season would probably boil down to:  Newton or James?  

As for Alabama, if the Tide defense completely shuts down Newton in that final game, sending the Tide to the SEC title game, then that opens the door for James or possibly Moore to win. 

But given his most recent performance and the hype that has come out of it, Newton holds all the cards in this race.  It would take a major stumble on his part or an unexpected Auburn loss for him to be knocked from his perch before that final matchup with ‘Bama.

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The Heismanpundit Heisman Poll, Week 7

 We have a new leader…

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn — 33 (8)

 2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State — 23 (4)

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon — 17 (1)

4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma — 2

5. (tie) Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford — 1

5. (tie) Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State — 1

5. (tie) Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State — 1

About the poll
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for three players each week. Tabulations are made on a 3-2-1 basis, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.  The last two years the Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote in 2008 and the top four in 2009.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.

HP’s Thoughts
Voters are in love with multi-threat quarterbacks these days and why shouldn’t they be?  First it was Denard Robinson running and throwing for big yardage to the delight of the Heisman electorate and now it’s Cameron Newton doing it.  The big difference is that Newton is big, strong and durable, whereas Robinson is not.  Also, Auburn is undefeated and in the hunt for a national title.  And so Newton is our new leader in the poll.  Kellen Moore maintains his position as a solid No. 2 and LaMichael James is lurking at No. 3, with a chance to make a move with a Thursday night game coming up.

From a Voter
“Some people watch Cam Newton and think: “Wow, this is the future of football.” Auburn fans don’t have to wait until we all have 3D televisions in our home to enjoy him. Newton is huge, runs like a tailback and is so tough to bring down, some opposing linebackers probably wish they’d chosen to play soccer over football.  Kellen Moore is like that rare political candidate who never screws up a soundbite, even if he’s just jumped off a red-eye flight and has to talk about health-care reform before a roomful of doctors. He has had a flawless season (OK, one interception) and props go to the Boise State coaches for refusing to let him pile up big passing numbers.  Sure, it would be easy to dump on Terrelle Pryor after his Buckeyes got dropped by Wisconsin. But I covered that game, and Pryor was not the problem. He did make several poor throws, but don’t blame him for Ohio State getting beat in the trenches and allowing the opening kickoff to be returned for a score.” — Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune.

Heisman Game of the Week
No. 6 LSU at No. 4 Auburn
 — This is Newton’s first game as one of the Heisman favorites, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.  So far, he seems to be unaffected by it all.  LSU has a stout defense and will no doubt try to key on stopping Newton.  If Auburn gets by LSU–and I think it will–then Newton should solidify his hold on the race for the time being.

Player to Watch
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State — It’s pretty rare for a wide receiver to get much traction in the Heisman race, but the buzz around Blackmon is just starting to get going.  He’s putting up numbers unlike any we’ve seen since Michael Crabtree was roaming the Big 12.  This week, the Cowboys host Nebraska, so we’ll get a chance to see just how good Blackmon really is.  He’s on pace for 114 catches for 1,910 yards and 24 touchdowns.  If he gets there, he’ll be on his way to New York, too.

This Week in Heisman History
Carson Palmer threw for a USC school-record 448 yards and five touchdowns on 31 of 42 passing as the Trojans defeated Oregon, 44-33, in 2002.  USC came back from a 19-14 halftime deficit with 20 third-quarter points and snapped a four-game losing streak to the Ducks.  Palmer would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that year, beating out Brad Banks of Iowa and Larry Johnson of Penn State.

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The Heisman Pundit Heisman Poll, Week 6

As I tried to explain earlier this week, Denard Robinson is still the leader for the time being…

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan — 18 (5)

2. (tie) Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State — 16 (4)

2. (tie) LaMichael James, RB, Oregon — 16 (2)

4. Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State — 14 (2)

5. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn–9

6. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford–4

7. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska–1

About the poll
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for three players each week. Tabulations are made on a 3-2-1 basis, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.  The last two years the Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote in 2008 and the top four in 2009.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.

HP’s Thoughts
Denard Robinson didn’t vault to the top of the Heisman race in just one week and he wasn’t going to fall from the top in just one week, either.  Despite a three-interception game against Michigan State, Robinson still put up solid overall numbers and maintained the faith of Heisman voters…for now.  Lurking close by in the race is Kellen Moore (who is unlikely to fall very low or rise very high for a while), LaMichael James and Terrelle Pryor.  If Robinson falters against Iowa this week, there will be a free-for-all for the top spot.  If Robinson comes through with, well, another Robinson-like performance, then look for his margin to (once again) increase.

From a Voter
“Denard Robinson may very well lose his frontrunner status in the coming weeks with Michigan’s schedule, but he’s been the best player in the nation so far this season. Even in the Wolverines’ loss to Michigan State last Saturday he put up 301 yards of total offense. LaMichael James has been the nation’s best back as Oregon has rolled, and Terrelle Pryor has a chance to make a statement with a big performance against Wisconsin on Saturday. Watch out for Nebraska freshman Taylor Martinez; he’s quickly moving up the list.” — B.J. Schecter, Sports Illustrated.

Heisman Game of the Week
No. 15 Iowa at Michigan
 — This game could go a long way toward determining the Heisman winner.  If Robinson bounces back from a sub-par (for him) game last week, then he’s likely to retain his front runner status until the Wolverines play Wisconsin on Nov. 20.  If Iowa shuts him down, then it will break the race wide open and give Pryor, Moore and James a chance to move into the top spot. 

Player to Watch
Terrelle Pryor — Pryor gets his second real test of the season this Saturday as Ohio State travels to Madison to take on Wisconsin.  Pryor was just 5 of 13 for 87 yards against the Badgers last year, but all indications are that his passing has improved markedly.  It will be a boon to his Heisman hopes if he can put together a complete game here and lead the Buckeyes to a win.

This Week in Heisman History
Pat Sullivan threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns–at one point completing an SEC-record 13-straight passes–as Auburn beat Georgia Tech, 31-14, in 1971. The Tigers trailed Tech, 7-6, entering the fourth quarter before exploding for 25 points.  Sullivan would go on to win the 1971 Heisman Trophy, beating out Ed Marinaro of Cornell and Greg Pruitt of Oklahoma.

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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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Denard Robinson: Quarterback 2.0

One of the things I like to opine about on this site is the evolution of football systems and positions.

About five years ago, I spent a lot of time and energy writing about the emergence of the spread and how it would change college football–yes, even the crusty offenses of the SEC.  I admit I didn’t always get all the minor details or predictions right (I famously thought that Boise would beat Georgia in 2006), but the big picture was overwhelmingly correct:  Offense was no longer going to be played in a phone booth, the entire field would finally be used, deception was on the rise and the quarterback position was changing.

But back then, the notion of the spread being dominant in college football was controversial.  It would never work in the SEC, said the average blogger, who had eaten his three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust wheaties every morning for breakfast for as long as he could remember and couldn’t quite wrap his head around the concept.  Now, most teams in college football run some form of the spread and it is the pro style attacks that are the dinosaurs in retreat.

The apotheosis of the modern day spread offense and its quarterback was the Florida offense and Tim Tebow.  He was a freak of nature at the position–6-3, 245 pounds, with 4.6 speed to go with his brute power and amazing durability.  Once he established himself as a highly efficient and productive passer, the dye was cast and there was very little defenses could do to stop him. 

Tebow was the next step up in the evolutionary process from Vince Young, who captained a cruder form of the spread for Texas, but who was equally effective running and passing.  Alas, Young went to the NFL before he could take college quarterbacking to an even higher level than he did in 2005, but the possibilities we saw with him were quite intriguing.

That’s because both Tebow and Young possessed skill sets that 10 or 15 years ago would have been applied toward other positions.  They would have been victims of the soft bigotry of quarterbacking expectations (to paraphrase a recent President).  In 1995, Young–who has ideal NFL quarterback size and legitimate NFL running back ability–would’ve been turned into a defensive end or tight end.  Tebow would’ve been made a fullback, linebacker or H-back (they still want to).  Back then, the quarterback position was reserved almost exclusively for the 6-4, 230-pound, mostly immobile and stiff, but strong-armed signal caller who was taught to slide under contact and hand the ball off.  Offenses were content on many plays to go 10 against 11 (once the quarterback handed the ball off, he was not involved with the play).  This, naturally, was an advantage for the defense.

The spread changed all that.  Many quarterbacks were now threats to run on every play, depending on how they read the defense.  This brought the equation back to 11 on 11, putting offenses on equal footing with their opponents.  Even worse for the defense, the spread would often ‘read’ one defender out of a play without having to use an offensive player to block him.  That gave the advantage to the offense, 11 to 10.  When a defense is outnumbered and doesn’t know where a play is going, it is in trouble.

And now we have come to the latest evolution in the quarterback position, personified by Michigan’s Denard Robinson.  Simply put, he is the first major conference quarterback who possesses the skill set of an elite cornerback or wide receiver.  He is arguably the fastest person ever to play the quarterback position full time.  This is not a conclusion I come to based upon a shoddy 40-yard dash clocking or by hearsay, but through quantifiable and verifiable measurements provided to us by the sport of track and field.

Here is the list of top 100 meter times from the 2009 high school track season provided by Track and Field News.com:

10.30   Randall Carroll (Cathedral, Los Angeles, Ca)    
10.32   Dentarius Locke (Chamberlain, Tampa, Fl)    
    Kenneth Gilstrap (Miller Grove, Lithonia, Ga)    
10.33   Ryan Milus (Hamilton, Chandler, Az)    
10.34   *Prezel Hardy (Ellison, Killeen, Tx)    
10.39   *Garic Wharton (Valley, Las Vegas, Nv)    
    *Fuquawn Greene (New Bern, NC)    
10.40(A)   Jeremy Rankin (Overland, Aurora, Co)    
10.41   Marquise Goodwin (Rowlett, Tx)    
    Charles Silmon (Waco, Tx)    
(10)
10.43   Skye Dawson (Dallas Christian, Mesquite, Tx)    
    Joeal Hotchkins (Chaparral, Las Vegas, Nv)    
10.44   Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fl)    
10.45   Shaun Murray (Liberty, Henderson, Nv)    
    *Trey Franks (West Orange-Stark, Orange, Tx)    
10.46   Andre Debose (Seminole, Sanford, Fl)    
10.47   *Blake Heriot (Lincoln, Gahanna, Oh)    
    Matthew Terrell (Davis, Indianapolis, In)    
10.48   **Bradley Sylve (South Plaquemines, Port Sulphur, La)    
10.49   Hunter Furr (Mt Tabor, Winston-Salem, NC)

A couple things to note here.  As you can see, Robinson recorded the 12th-fastest time among all high school boys who ran the 100 meters in 2009.  Among that list are some names you probably know and some names you don’t know.  You’ll probably recognize that he is ahead of the highly-recruited Andre Debose of Florida–acclaimed by many to be in the mold of Percy Harvin (himself a 10.43 sprinter).  And he is just a notch behind TCU wideout Skye Dawson and Texas’s Marquise Goodwin (also a world class long jumper and the second-fastest man in college football).  But he is also firmly ensconced among a bevy of top-flight track athletes who are set to shine in the collegiate sprints, most notably Florida’s Blake Heriot.  For a football player, much less one who plays quarterback, this is elite company indeed.

[Note: Some will argue that Robert Griffin of Baylor might be faster and I don’t necessarily disagree.  However, Griffin’s prime event–the 400m hurdles–does not always translate into on-field quickness the way the shorter sprints do and, besides, he is recovering from an injured knee and I doubt he has kept the same level of speed as in the past.  Also, Bert Emanuel of Rice–a somewhat successful college quarterback moved to wide out in the pros–was a 25 foot long jumper in high school and is certainly worthy of consideration as well.]

So why is this speed issue important?  Simply put, 10 years ago or even five years ago, Robinson would have been playing cornerback or wide receiver.  It would have been a no-brainer, given his body type.  The thought of taking a guy with that kind of speed and putting the ball in his hands on every down was deemed, strangely enough, not prudent.

I posit that what we are seeing happen with Robinson in his first two games is no accident.  His putting up 885 yards of offense in two games is not happenstance, or some kind of weird aligning of the planets.

No.  What we are seeing is evidence of what can happen when you take a truly elite athlete and put him at the quarterback position in the spread offense and let him touch the ball on every down.  We’ve never seen a quarterback do something quite like this before because it’s never really been tried.  Hence, there is nothing to compare it to.  That he is being tutored by one of the fathers of the spread helps even more, not to mention the fact that he clearly has some innate football instincts–and magic–to go along with his tremendous athleticism. 

The key to all of this is his dramatic improvement as a passer.  Two games in, he is completing 69 percent of his throws for 430 yards and has yet to throw an interception in 62 attempts.  This is not a matter of a running quarterback hitting a few passes to keep the defenses honest–his arm actually complements his running and is a threat unto itself.  One element of his game will undoubtedly be shut down one day by a committed defense, but it is unlikely that both will be kept in check, at least given what we know so far (which is not to say that he won’t have struggles of his own doing at some point).

I think that Robinson’s success at quarterback could have a galvanizing effect among some of the more innovative coaches out there.  Instead of mindlessly slotting sprinters to play on the perimeter where they rarely come in contact with the ball, some coaches will try them at quarterback so they can touch the ball every down.  Everyone will be on the lookout for the next Robinson.  Of course, a sprinter who can actually play quarterback is still a rare thing and it will require change at the high school–and even Pop Warner–levels first for this to be more wide-spread.  But I think it’s going to happen.  It just makes too much sense.  Even now, the best athlete on a high school team tends to play quarterback, but then he is more often than not switched to corner or receiver once he is in college because he does not fit the system or some outdated image of what a quarterback should look like.  But imagine if elite athletes like Bo Jackson or Ted Ginn had been groomed to be quarterbacks from an early age and had been allowed to stay there when they got to college.  Football would be a lot different today, that’s for sure.

I am not ready to anoint Robinson as the greatest player ever, or even as the best player this year, just yet.  There’s a long way to go in that regard. 

But I do think that his instant success at the quarterback position illustrates exactly what can happen when you take the best athlete on the field and just give him the damn ball…on every play!

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The Robinson Factor

Another year, another sophomore exploding on the scene.

Michigan’s Denard Robinson has turned the Heisman race upside down with his other-worldly performances the past two weeks.  If the vote were held today, he would win.

It is an old saw in Heisman circles that to win the trophy, you must either beat Notre Dame or play for Notre Dame.  Well, Robinson beat the Irish in about as impressive and dramatic a fashion as possible.

So what’s next in store for Michigan’s Mr. Robinson?

Is there any reason to think he’ll slow down in the next few games? Sure, there is a thought that he might not hold up to the rigors of the schedule since he handles the ball so much.  But the Wolverines take on Massachussetts, Bowling Green, Indiana and Michigan State in the next four weeks.  Six games into the season, barring injury, Robinson should still rank among the nation’s leaders in rushing and total offense. 

At that point, he’ll be tested, as Michigan hosts Iowa and travels to Penn State.  Then there is Illinois and Purdue before two major clashes to close the season against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

If the Heisman gods were truly shining upon us, that Wolverines-Buckeyes battle could shape up to be a Pryor-Robinson headliner, with the winner taking home the Heisman.

It’s all in Robinson’s hands.  Believe it or not, the Heisman is his to lose right now.  It’s a notion that was almost unthinkable a couple week ago.  But there it is: I don’t think anyone else in the country can match his ‘spectacular’ factor when he is on his game.  Since he is a one-man show for a traditional power, he’ll be given a little bit of leeway even if he doesn’t put up 500 yards every time out.  Amazingly, a 2,000/2,000 season is not out of the question for him–he’s probably the first player who has ever had a realistic shot at that mark.

There is still a lot of football to be played, but no one has started the season out better against more quality opponents than Robinson. 

It’s him and everyone else right now.

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