Tag Archives | LaMichael James

LaMichael James Builds His Case

Even though Cameron Newton remains the Heisman front runner, there’s no doubt that LaMichael James made up a considerable amount of ground with his 239-yard, 3-touchdown performance against USC on Saturday.

Beating the Trojans or playing for the Trojans always helps in the Heisman race and James is sure to reap some immediate benefit with voters.  There should be significant movement toward James this week, which is likely to come at the expense of Kellen Moore’s candidacy.

That’s because voters have been presented with a clear choice between a rare athlete playing the quarterback position who appears to be able to do it all (pass, run…and catch!) and a diminutive speedster at tailback who leads the nation in rushing and scoring and is the main cog in the nation’s most fearsome offensive machine.  While Moore’s numbers are sterling all around, he lacks the pizzazz of the other two.  At this point, he’s probably a distant third (though almost assuredly heading to New York).

I think it is noteworthy that all three players have their teams undefeated at this point in the season.  The last time the top three players in the Heisman vote played for three different undefeated teams was…never (research pending)?  What more could Heisman voters wish for?

But does James really have a chance to overtake Newton?

I think so.  It looks to me like the gap has been narrowed enough to where Newton will probably have to lead Auburn to a win over Alabama in order to be able to hold off the surging James, who has come through with extraordinary efforts against the two ranked teams he has faced (248 yards per game).

Prior to the USC game, I felt Newton could probably play well in a loss to the Tide and still win the Heisman.  But now that James has his own signature win as a counterbalance, I believe the deciding factor between the two could be which team makes it to the BCS title game.  If both players keep playing well and Oregon makes it and Auburn does not, then I think James wins the Heisman.  If both teams make it, or just Auburn, then Newton wins.

Voters will have a tough choice ahead of them.  James could very well kick it into high gear in his remaining four games and end up topping the magical 2,000-yard mark despite missing the opener.  Meanwhile, Newton is on pace to throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for 1,500.  You don’t see that every day…because it’s never happened. 

Newton also has the mega-matchup with the Tide to help put him over the top, but there’s a chance the Bama defense slows him down, too.  James won’t draw the same level of hype as he closes out his schedule, but he will take on what could be a top 10 Arizona team (if the Wildcats beat Stanford) and then pesky rival Oregon State.  So the opportunities are there for James to make up some ground.

Last week at this time it looked like Cam Newton had a chance to run away with the Heisman.  Throw that thought out the window for the time being.

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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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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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