Heisman Hopefuls – Week 3
Week 3 in the Heisman race sees the big boys start to separate from the pack, and some new contenders rise to the fore. In reality though, it’s still early days, but when did reality and early rankings ever go hand-in-hand? Neither my “Top 10” nor the “Best of the Rest” lists are in any particular order (early days yet), but I’d give the Heisman to Geno Smith if the season ended tomorrow.
The Top 10
Geno Smith, West Virginia
With Matt Barkley apparently out of the way, this gig looks like it’s Smith’s to lose. Topping his week 1 feat of throwing 4 TDs and just 4 incompletions was always going to be tough, but somehow Smith managed it, throwing for 411 yards, 5 TDs and – you guessed it – 5 incompletions. If he can keep this up, there could be more hardware than just the Heisman heading to Morgantown.
Next Week: Maryland
Stats to Date: Passing 75-66-734-9-0, Rushing 10-83-1.
Jonathan Franklin, UCLA
After a couple of great weeks to start the season, Franklin was “slowed” by Houston, rushing for 117 yards and catching 4 passes, but he opened up the field for QB Brett Hundley and the rest of offense. He’s still a prime contender heading into conference play, but can he keep up the pace with defenses focused on him?
Next Week: Oregon State
Stats to Date: Rushing 66-541-3, Receiving 8-121-1.
Aaron Murray, Georgia
Murray continues to put up solid numbers, albeit against lesser opposition (sorry Missouri). Last week was his best showing, ripping little FAU for 342 yards and 2 scores, and running for 20 yards and another 2 TDs. Based on previous years, I expect him to perform well against better opposition, but he needs a big win to impress the voters, and he may not get one until the SEC Championship.
Next Week: Vanderbilt
Stats to Date: Passing 80-51-842-8-1, Rushing 15-(-4)-2.
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lattimore is being hindered by his own coaching staff which refuse to call his number, no doubt with the aim of using him against tougher opposition. The Gamecocks are rolling along nicely with some big wins, but Lattimore needs to see a lot more of the ball to really get back into the race. The carries should start to pick up next week when conference play kicks in.
Next Week: Missouri
Stats to Date: Rushing 48-235-4, Receiving 6-33-0.
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
I know it’s still early days, but a lot of last year’s returning Heisman candidates are posting mediocre (by their standards) stats, with the exception of Geno Smith. There are still a lot of games to play, and it’s big plays and big games that catch the eye, so I’m not too concerned, but I’m keeping note. Anyway, Thomas was solidly explosive as usual, despite his limited touches, rushing for 62 yards and a score on 3 carries, catching 3 passes for 73 yards and a TD and returning 4 punts for 87 yards. This guy is lightning in a bottle, and needs to be seen to be believed.
Next Week: Arizona
Stats to Date: Rushing 13-228-4, Receiving 11-154-3, Punt Returns 7-93-0, Total Yards 31-475-7 (Wow!).
Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Barner wasn’t really needed against Arkansas State and Tennessee Tech, and his stats suffered for it, but the Ducks rode him against Fresno State in week 2 and he came through for them. Expect that to be the order of the day with the PAC 12 schedule kicking off. Having Thomas on the same team could be his biggest obstacle. Last week, Barner ran for 57 yards and a TD, and caught 2 passes for 16 yards.
Next Week: Arizona
Stats to Date: Rushing 56-324-6, Receiving 6-45-0.
Denard Robinson, Michigan
Since the beatdown at Alabama, D-Rob has been on fire, tearing up Air Force and Massachusetts (oh, great!). They aren’t great teams, but these are games Heisman candidates are supposed to dominate, and precious few have so far. He threw for 291 yards and 3 TDs (1 Int) and ran for 106 yards and another TD. Next up is the Fighting Irish, Shoelace’s favorite opponent.
Next Week: @ Notre Dame
Stats to Date: Passing 75-41-699-6-4, Rushing 40-351-4.
Braxton Miller, Ohio State
The Buckeyes aren’t quite playing to the standard most expected of them with Urban Meyer now in charge, but there are a couple of great performers, including Miller. The sophomore QB seems to be only threat on offense as everyone else struggles with the new offense. He may not last the season if others don’t step up to help out, but right now he’s carrying the team. They’ve one more chance to sort themselves out before games start getting tough. He threw for 249 yards and 4 scores, and ran for 75 yards a TD, last week against Cal.
Next Week: Alabama-Birmingham
Stats to Date: Passing 78-48-611-7-2, Rushing 56-377-5.
Collin Klein, Kansas State
I thought Klein was under-rated last year, I think he’s under-rated this year. Despite a minor hiccup against North Texas, the team is playing great football and could do a number on Oklahoma next week. Klein is a much better passer this season and is a lock on short yardage runs. RB Jon Hubert helps keep the pressure off him too. Against UNT, he threw for 230 yards and 2 scores and ran for 85 yards and another TD.
Next Week: @ Oklahoma
Stats to Date: Passing 59-43-609-5-2, Rushing 46-210-4.
AJ McCarron, Alabama
I threw this guy in after some thought, and why not? He’s playing for the potential national champions and he’s spreading the ball around nicely while a committee of RBs keep things going on the ground. If one thing will go against him, it’s playing for Alabama as a “game-manager” QB. The running game hasn’t been as impressive as last year, so watch McCarron get more notice when games get tougher.
Next Week: Florida Atlantic
Stats to Date: Passing 56-36-607-7-0, Rushing 13-(-42)-0.
Best of the Rest
Montee Ball, Wisconsin – It’s not all his fault, but he’s not getting the job done. He had an okay game last week, but needs a monster performance. Next Week: Texas-El Paso
Stats: Rushing 84-320-2, Receiving 7-49-0.
Matt Barkley, Southern California – So many guys have written him off now, it probably makes it a reality, but he can still turn it around. He can’t afford any more slips, though. Next Week: California
Stats: Passing 109-66-813-10-3, Rushing 7-(-51)-0.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma – If he wasn’t playing for a team with the Sooners talent, I’d say he was playing well. Truth is, he should have dominated the first 2 games, but he’s still not in sync with his receivers. Next Week: Kansas State
Stats: Passing 64-40-474-4-1, Rushing 4-(-29)-0
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas – I don’t think he’s out of the race altogether, but he’s got to play lights out (no pun intended) for the rest of the season. Winning the West would almost guarantee it. Next Week: Rutgers
Stats: Passing 47-30-563-5-1, Rushing 3-(-2)-0.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson – Boyd’s having a nicely quiet season, but needs a signature win. If he rips the Seminoles in Tallahassee on Saturday, he’s going into the top 10. Next Week: @ Florida State
Stats: Passing 86-63-747-6-1, Rushing 27-75-0.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson – He started his season well with 4 catches for 52 yards and a 58-yard TD run, but he needs to become the key to the offense he was last season in a hurry. Next Week: @ Florida State
Stats: Receiving 4-52-0, Rushing 1-58-1, Kick Returns 1-9-0.
Rex Burkhead, Nebraska – Burkhead’s been out injured for the last couple of weeks and his chances are rapidly slipping away. He’s expected back for Saturday, but he has to hit the ground running to get back in the hunt. Next Week: Idaho State
Stats: Rushing 3-68-1.
Robert Woods, Southern California – He suffers a little from playing on the same team as fellow-candidate Barkley and explosive team-mate Marqise Lee, but he’s a great player. The Stanford loss probably ruins his chances. Next Week: California
Stats: Receiving 20-173-4, Rushing 1-76-0, Punt Returns 1-31-0.
Knile Davis, Arkansas – One of many guys from this last on their last chance, Davis needs to start flashing something this weekend or he’ll be out of the race. Next Week: Rutgers
Stats: Rushing 54-191-2, Receiving 3-18-0.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama – I always thought Lacy was a long shot, merely making my list because he’s a Tide RB. He’s accrued merely pedestrian stats (nice TDs though) and is stuck in a rotation that won’t win him anything. Next Week: Florida Atlantic
Stats: Rushing 30-126-4, Receiving 1-10-0.
Derek Carr, Fresno State – Carr is following in his brother’s footsteps and looks like he could be poised for an outstanding senior season. Will it win him the Heisman? Probably not, but he could push for top 5 status if he keeps it up. Next Week: Tulsa
Stats: Passing 94-66-832-8-1, Rushing 10-10-0.
Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State – Bell hasn’t done a whole lot since week 1 against Boise, but he’s not getting any help from the offense. They’ve one more game to sort it out, or Bell’s a goner. Next Week: Eastern Michigan
Stats: Rushing 81-357-4, Receiving 11-75-0.
Andre Ellington, Clemson – Like Bell, he hasn’t done much, but the Tigers didn’t need him. As the schedule gets tougher, they will count on him more, and he should rack up some stats. I believe he’s Clemson’s most important player. Next Week: @ Florida State
Stats: Rushing 53-328-4.
Nick Florence, Baylor – Florence’s second game was less impressive than his first, but it was far from shabby against potential FCS champions Sam Houston State. He still racked up 312 yards and 3 TDs and ran for another 95. Next Week: Louisiana-Monroe
Stats: Passing 71-45-653-7-2, Rushing 12-104-0.