Heisman Watch: Week Five

posted September 30, 2014 in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Zulli

Front Runners

Marcus Mariota, Junoir QB, Oregon
Stock: Even
Week 5 Stats: BYE
Season Stats: 75-96, 1135 yards, 13 TD, 33 carries, 214 yards, 5 TD

Alright, fine. Call me a hypocrite if you want. I always say that if you don’t play, you’re going to fall at least one spot in the rankings. This, however, is a situation in which that is simply not the case.

Mariota has played so incredibly well over the first four weeks of the 2014 season that he’s going to remain at the top spot on the list for at least another week. I just cannot move him right now the way the season is shaking out.

Through the first four weeks of the season, Mariota has completed over 75% of his passes for 1135 yards. He’s added 13 scores through the air for the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks. Also multidimensional, Mariota has run for over 200 yards and five rushing touchdowns as well.

The junior quarterback has been better than advertised this season despite being a Heisman candidate since the beginning of the year. Not only has he produced, he’s been an absolute leader as the field general of the high powered Ducks’ offense.

The next three weeks for Oregon will prove a tough task for Mariota, as they’ll face three stout teams in Arizona, UCLA and Washington in consecutive weeks. The junior will have to be at his best in order to lead his Ducks to three victories. If he’s able to do so, check for Mariota to pull way ahead on this list.

Todd Gurley, Junior RB, Georgia
Stock: Even
Week 5 Stats: 28 carries, 208 yards, 2 TD
Season Stats: 69 carries, 610 yards, 6 TD

There’s the Todd Gurley that we’ve come to know over the last few seasons for Georgia. After a less than stellar week for Gurley, which we know was not necessarily his fault, Gurley was back in action in a big way against conference rival Tennessee.

Gurley touched the rock four times more this week than he did last week against Troy. With 28 carries, the junior back rushed for over 200 yards. Gurley also punched in two touchdown on the day as Georgia escaped against Tennessee with a 35-32 victory to improve to 3-1 on the year.

He continues to run the ball effectively, as he’s run at a clip of nearly nine yards per carry through the first four games, rushing for 610 yards. This even includes last week against Troy when he ran for only 73 yards. I’d expect Georgia to continue to give Gurley a heavy dose of the ball as he continues to produce for the offense in a big way.

With a closer than anticipated victory over Tennessee, the Bulldogs improve to 3-1 in an SEC that will take basically 11 wins in order to get to the SEC championship game.

The Bulldogs will have somewhat of a calm before the storm game against Vanderbilt this week before having to face the bulk of the SEC schedule in the weeks to come. They’ll take on Auburn and Missouri coming up soon, as well as a good Arkansas team on the road.

I’m excited to see what Gurley can do in the upcoming weeks as the Bulldogs continue to pound the football on the ground. The junior will bear much of the rushing load, and I expect him to not disappoint. Look for Gurley to rise up the rankings as he tries to grab the number one spot once again.

Second Tier

Kenny Hill, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M
Stock: Even
Week 5 Stats: 21-41, 386 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
Season Stats: 118-180, 1745 yards, 17 TD, 2 INT

The stock of Kenny Hill will remain even. For now. However, I can’t continue to hold Kenny Hill down to third on this list with the way he’s been playing this season so far. He simply has played far too well to only be third on this list as the season continues. He will move up if he continues to play this well.

Since replacing Johnny Manziel, Kenny Hill has been absolutely electrifying under center for the Aggies this season. Hill continued his stellar play this weekend against a sneaky Arkansas squad. Hill threw for 386 yards and four scores in the victory against the Razorbacks. The only two knocks on Hill’s day were the interception he threw and his low completion percentage. Hill only completed 51% of his passes on the day.

Hill continues to find the back of endzone for A&M, as he’s thrown for 17 touchdowns already in the early parts of the season. To go along with the 17 touchdowns, he’s only thrown two interceptions to this point, as he continues to keep the turnovers to a minimum.

Hill has led his Aggies to a hot 5-0 start, as they are now ranked No. 6 in the country. The Aggies will have a tough next couple of weeks as they’ll face No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 10 Ole Miss before heading on the road to take on No. 3 Alabama. Hill will have to be nearly perfect in order to win all of these games. If he is, the sophomore will, no doubt, rise quickly.

Ameer Abdullah, Senior RB, Nebraska
Week 5 Stats: 22 carries, 208 yards, 3 TD
Season Stats: 114 carries, 833 yards, 8 TD, 108 rec yards, 2 TD

Ameer Abdullah will make his first appearance on this list above the “Honorable Mention” rankings. Abdullah has been good all year, but it took a Jameis Winston slip and a powerful running game from the senior back to jump up to having a write-up about him.

Even though the Big Ten has certainly been down all year, Abdullah has done quite a bit to make sure that his Nebraska squad is the last undefeated team in the conference.

That effort continued into this past weekend against a lowly Illinois defense. Abdullah rushed for over 200 yards on 22 carries as the Nebraska Cornhuskers dismantled the Illini 45-15 at home to improve to 5-0 on the season. He rushed for three scores as well, bringing his season total up to eight.

Abdullah has been solid all year, rushing for over 800 yards on just over 100 carries. That comes out to an average of over seven yards per carry. With the exception of his 54-yard day against McNeese State, Abdullah has rushed for over 100 yards in every game this season, and 200 yards in three of those four games.

Nebraska will now continue to take on the bulk of their conference schedule, as they’ll next head to Michigan State. After that, they’ll take Northwestern and Wisconsin on the road throughout the year. Abdullah will look to be a major factor in the Cornhusker offense through the rest of the season. Look for him to be a mainstay on this list for the next couple of weeks.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

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