>\n\nHeisman watch update... \n\n\n\n

Heisman watch update...

Written by Curt Popejoy on 10/21/2009

I don’t ever recall a season where there are fewer players with a foot on the stage in New York City for the Heisman Trophy. Normally at this time, there have been a few quarterbacks who’ve sort of put themselves out front, through their stats and through their team success.

This year, the preseason frontrunners were Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Colt McCoy. I don’t recall any preseason reads on the award that didn’t include these guys. And what has happened to them?

Tebow has been ok, but not remarkable, and while the Gators are undefeated it’s more to do with the Florida defense than it is about the playmaking of Tebow. He’s dealt with a nasty concussion, and a dip in stats.

Sam Bradford has been injured twice, in two of the three games he’s played. Now he’s shelved for the foreseeable future, and assuming he does return, he has neither the games left, or the talent around him, to make a rally this monumental.

Colt McCoy has been solid, not spectacular, but solid. He, like Tebow is the leader of an undefeated, highly ranked team so that certainly works in his favor. But does anyone, even a Longhorn fan feel like McCoy is the “most outstanding player in College Football”?

What we have instead are a group of relative unknowns, some non-skill players, and some real darkhorses who are making big noise this year. It might be exactly what the NCAA needs to shake up the stale voting that has plagued the Heisman Trophy for years. Let’s look at some of the real contenders.

For me it starts with Mark Ingram RB Alabama. This sophomore was a kid we all knew had talent from the flashes he showed last year, but he’s been completely phenomenal this year. He’s stepped up and had his biggest games against the best teams. Opening weekend, he torches a tough Virginia Tech D for 150 yards and a score and looking at the clinic he put on last week, 24 carries, 246 yards and a score against South Carolina, and it’s tough to say there’s a better football player in the nation right now. When you figure in that this is a team that had some significant losses on offense, including their starting quarterback, left tackle, and running back, and a down year by the team’s top wide receiver, it makes what he’s doing even more remarkable. I can see the Crimson Tide jumping on his broad shoulders and riding him all the way to a National Championship.

Next up is Ryan Mathews. If you haven’t got to see a Fresno State game this year, you really should. Fresno State is not a great team. They are only 3-3 on the season, and their offense basically revolves around Matthews. For him, that means he sees 8 and 9 in the box on a regular basis. And that has meant nothing to him. He’s topped 100 yards in every game this year, and 200 in 2 games. For the season he’s averaging 7.4 yards per carry, and has almost 975 yards in 6 games. His performance against Boise State(19 carries, 234 yards, and 3 touchdowns is as good a game as I’ve seen from a running back all year.

Going a little out of the box, I’m going to continue to include Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska in this discussion. I know he won’t get an invite, and that’s ok. Doesn’t change the fact that he’s the most disruptive defensive player in the nation. You don’t really expect big numbers from a defensive tackle. When you hear positives on these guys you typically hear about their role being more about absorbing blockers and allowing other players to make plays, but Suh is the playmaker. He’s always near the top of the Huskers in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, pass breakups, forced fumbles, and whatever else. The kid could probably go into the stands at halftime to sell hot dogs and be the best at that too. He’s another guy who’s the focus of the opposing team, and they still have found no answer to stop him.

My last guy is Tony Pike, QB Cincinnati. I hate that he was hurt last week, because he was seriously on pace to crush some records, and the Bearcats are on a tear to the BCS. Pike’s injury was actually a re-injury of his broken forearm from last season. They went in and performed a procedure to repair the plate that has been in his left arm since last year. The Bearcats aren’t ruling out a return by Pike this weekend against Louisville. I don’t know the extent of his injury, but I do know that Cinci is really good. And this is his non-throwing arm, so I can certainly see him coming back. They Bearcats need this conference win. If Pike can return, and play out the season the way he has to this point, it’ll be tough to keep him out of New York.

My two super dark horses.

Kellen Moore QB Boise State - You can’t deny the fact that Moore is having a great season. He’s on pace for more than 3,000 yards, 35 scores with fewer than 5 ints, and a 70% completion rate. What hurts Moore is the fact he has done all his damage against soup cans, and the two good teams he’s played, Oregon and Tulsa, he failed to throw for 200 yards in either game.

Case Keenum QB Houston - The team slipped up against UTEP, but no fault of Keenum’s. He threw for 536 yards and 5 touchdowns. If we just want to let someone in for gawdy stats, then the fact that Keenum is looking to get around 5,000 yards this year, and 40 touchdowns has to count for something. But Houston is getting no attention from the national media as a team as good as their record.

So, in the final analysis, who are the 3 guys I’m sending to New York this weekend? I’m probably sending Tebow, just because he’s got the cache’. And I suspect before the year is out, he’s going to have enough highlight moments and signature plays to make sure he’s there. Then I’m sending Mark Ingram. The kid is dominant against great competition, an advantage he has over Matthews. Simply unstoppable to this point in the year, and I don’t see that changing. My third guy is Suh. Most fans don’t even pay attention to the interior line during a game, but Suh makes it impossible to ignore. His box score looks like a linebacker, and he’s the fittest 300 man I’ve ever seen. So, off that Big 3, who’s my most outstanding college football player? I have to go with Ingram. What he’s done on a team that most thought would be down, and how he’s elevated his play and the play of his teammates is remarkable.

Last Edited: 10/21/2009

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