Heisman Watch: Week Six

Story posted October 6, 2014 in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Zulli

Front Runners

Todd Gurley, Junior RB, Georgia

Stock: UP

Week 6 Stats: 25 carries, 163 yards, 3 TD

Season Stats: 94 carries, 773 yards, 8 TD

The junior running back has regained the spot on the top of this list after a brilliant showing this week. Gurley was sitting squarely behind Marcus Mariota for the last few weeks, but could not be held down any longer. Gurley was terrific, and Mariota was, well, not so much.

Gurley and his Georgia Bulldogs took on a lowly Vanderbilt team in a game in which Georgia needed to win and start gaining back momentum. And win they did, beating down the Commodores 44-17 at home.

Gurley was a leading candidate for MVP of the Bulldog offense, carrying the ball 25 times for 163 yards. The junior punched in two scores, as well, as the offense was clicking on all cylinders. His 6.5 yards per carry were actually low for the season, as he’d been rushing for over eight yards per carry up to that point.

Gurley will continue to get a heavy workload as the season progresses, as he’s averaged almost 20 carries per game through the first five games. Excluding the six carry game against Troy, Gurley is touching the ball 21 times per game. That bodes well for Gurley as he continues to beat down opposing defenses at will.

Georgia will have a few tough battles in the next couple of weeks, facing off against No. 23 Missouri before heading to Arkansas and Kentucky. They’ll also face Auburn later in the year. Gurley will have to be on the top of his game, and more importantly, get a heavy dose of touches, if the Bulldogs want to continue to compete in the SEC. He’ll also need some solid numbers to hold off the swarm of players sitting behind on the Heisman Watch.

Marcus Mariota, Junior QB, Oregon

Stock: DOWN

Week 6 Stats: 20-32, 276 yards, 2 TD, 6 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD

Season Stats: 91-128, 1411 yards, 15 TD, 42 carries, 215 yards, 3 TD

Well, it appears that Superman has a chip in his armor after all. Not only did the Oregon Ducks lose for the first time, but also it appeared that Arizona found a solution to keeping Mariota in check and keeping the Ducks off the board.

Mariota had himself a decent day statistically, completing 63 percent of his passes and throwing for over 275 yards. He added three scores on the day, punching the ball in twice through the air and once on the ground. The stats, however, do not really tell the whole story of Mariota and the Ducks offense on the day.

For the first time all season, Mariota showed glimpses of some of the struggles that haunted him last year. He seemed to make pure decisions in the pocket, throwing the ball off of his back foot many times. Balls that normally sparked out of his hand instead fluttered.

Mariota, however, has been far too good this year to drop him further than second on the list. He’s still completed over 70 percent of his passes. He’s also not thrown an interception to this point in the season. Add that to the 15 touchdowns he’s thrown, which is good enough for eighth in the country, and Mariota won’t fall more than one spot on the list this week.

Things won’t get any easier for the Oregon Ducks, who will drop in the polls this week, as they’ll next have to take on a ranked opponent, on the road, in No. 18 UCLA. They’ll then play Washington, before having to face No. 25 Stanford and No. 24 Utah.

I expect Mariota to bounce back in a big way next week. He’s played too well to this point to be shut down in back-to-back weeks. Look for a big day from the junior next week.

Second Tier

Amari Cooper, Junior WR, Alabama

Stock: UP

Week 6 Stats: 9 Rec, 91 yards

Season Stats: 52 Rec, 746 yards, 5 TD

This second tier through the first few weeks has been changed so many times, and we’ve seen so many different names appear. The next name to rise up the ranks is Amari Cooper, the stud junior receiver from Alabama.

Cooper has been, by far, the best receiver in college football so far this season. The junior has raked in over 50 catches in the five games, gaining almost 750 yards in the process. He’s also punched in five scores this season for the Crimson Tide through the air.

This weekend, Cooper was somewhat contained by a very good Ole Miss defense that has climbed into the Top 10. He still managed to record nine receptions for 91 yards in the loss to the Rebels, dropping ‘Bama from the ranks of the unbeaten. The nine catches add to his impressive numbers this season, as he averages over 10 catches per game.

Alabama will look to rebound next week, but it won’t be easy. They’ll head on the road to take on a capable Arkansas team before heading home to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. Playing in the SEC West continues to take a toll on teams, as Alabama falls victim for the first time this year.

Amari Cooper will surely be a future first round pick once he decides to declare for the NFL Draft. First, however, Cooper will look to rise up the ranks of the Heisman Hopefuls, as he not only looks to get his Crimson Tide back on track, but also looks to raise the Heisman Trophy at the end of the year.

Kenny Hill, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M

Stock: DOWN

Week 6 Stats: 37-62, 365 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT

Season Stats:155-242, 2110 yards, 21 TD, 5 INT

I’d like to apologize for my comments in the last article. I couldn’t have spoken higher of Kenny Hill the way he’s been playing the last few weeks. He’d thrown the ball well, kept turnovers down, and found the end zone quite a bit.

This past weekend, however, Hill was less than spectacular. Yes, Mississippi St. was purely the better team, and yes, Hill had to sling the ball all over the field just to keep his Aggies close. But, the sophomore was still average, at best.

Hill had to throw the ball an insane 62 times, completing 37 of those throws. That comes out to just about a 60 percent completion percentage, slightly lower than the 64 percent he’s completed throughout the year. He did throw for well over 350 yards and three scores on the day, bringing his season total up to 21, good for third in the country.

The bads outweighed the goods in the contest against the Bulldogs, as Hill more than doubled his season interception total, throwing three on the day. He now sits at five on the year. There also were some throws that Hill would certainly like to have back, as he missed a few receivers throughout the game.

Just like the rest of the SEC West, things don’t get any easier for the Aggies moving forward. Four of their last six games are against ranked, conference opponents. One of the other two are against LSU. Hill will have to be better than what he was on Saturday in order for the Aggies to compete in this dominating division. I’d like to wait just one more week before completely writing Hill off.

Honorable Mention

Ameer Abdullah, Senior RB, Nebraska

Everett Golson, Senior QB, Notre Dame

Dak Prescott, Junior QB, Mississippi State

(Photo credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Tyler Zulli is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email tzull34@gmail.com.