Heisman Watch: Week Nine

Story posted October 28, 2013 in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Zulli

Front Runners

Marcus Mariota, Sophomore QB, Oregon

Stock: EVEN
Week 9 Stats: 21-28, 230 yards 1 TD
Season Stats: 144-225, 2281 yards, 20 TDs, 0 INT’s, 511 rush yards, 9 TDs

Mariota continues to do what a perennial Heisman frontrunner should do. Week in and week out, the sophomore has impressed, leading his Ducks to eight straight wins and a top-five rank.

Through eight games, Mariota has yet to throw an interception. Let that sink in. 225 attempts without a pick. That’s unheard of. He’s on pace to throw for 30 touchdowns, all without throwing a single interception.

Someone will intercept Mariota eventually, but until that happens, we can call him the closest thing to statistically perfect this year.

To go along with his 20 touchdowns through the air, Mariota has scored nine additional times with his legs.

Even though the stats aren’t outstanding, the Ducks pulled away against UCLA late in the third quarter and never looked back. The final score was 42-14, but 28 unanswered from Oregon sealed the deal in the fourth quarter.

Mariota threw for 230 yards and a touchdown in the beatdown against the Bruins. The running game stole the show, putting up five touchdowns on the ground.

The Ducks have two real challenges remaining on the schedule. They will square off against Stanford on the road on Nov. 7. The final game of the year, they will face in-state rival, Oregon State. Four victories will almost certainly have them in the National Championship conversation, and Mariota will remain the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.

Jameis Winston, Freshman QB, Florida State

Stock: EVEN
Week 9 Stats: 16-26, 292 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

Season Stats: 128-183, 2177 yards, 23 TDs, 4 INTs, 3 rush TDs

I’m really running out of words to use to describe this outstanding freshman. He’s been accurate, consistent, and most importantly, he’s winning football games.

“Famous Jameis,” has led his Seminole squad to a 7-0 record to start the season. More importantly, he has them sitting #2 in the nation. You have to have some poise when you’re playing this well.

After beating down Clemson, you had to figure that the Seminoles may struggle a little against North Carolina State. Not so much. The ‘Noles came out and beat the Wolfpack 49-17, and Winston was a major part of that victory.

He threw for nearly 300 yards and added three touchdowns all to different Seminole receivers.

The things that have impressed me most about Winston, has been his poise in the pocket. We saw him have some jitters in the pocket earlier in the year, but has since looked very strong.

The reason the Winston hasn’t vaulted Mariota just yet is a combination of Winston’s interceptions and Mariota’s overall touchdown total. Mariota has 29 total touchdowns compared to Winston’s 27.

Five games separate the Seminoles from a perfect season. Their major confrontation will come next Saturday, in primetime, when they will host Stephen Morris and #7 Miami Hurricanes. A victory here would further cement the Seminoles in the #2 spot, and propel Winston further in the Heisman standings.

Johnny Manziel, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M

Stock: EVEN
Week 9 Stats: 25-35, 305 yards, 4TDs, 1 INT
Season Stats: 184-252, 2594 yards, 22 TDs, 8 INT, 497 rush yards, 6 TDs

The Aggies clearly had a sour taste in their mouths after their second loss of the season, against Auburn last week. Manziel and company racked up 56 points and a total of 558 yards against Vanderbilt.

Manziel was, like always, right in the center of the action. He threw over 300 yards and added four touchdowns. Although he threw his eighth

interception of the year, Manziel has, for the most part, continued to produce for an A&M team that has, at times, left him out on an island to win the game by himself.

The Commodores never stood a chance, trailing 21-0, after 15 minutes of play.

The sophomore has used his arm and his legs to produce over 3,000 total yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s had a stellar year, without a doubt. The two guys above him have simply been better.

The turnovers, which separate Mariota from Winston, separate the two from Manziel. If Johnny Football is able to cut down on the turnovers for the remainder of the year, he’s obviously a force to be reckoned with, in his attempt to become just the second player in NCAA to win two Heisman Trophies.

The Aggies face Florida in Gainesville, in two weeks. The Gators stand as A&M’s last real test of the year before they close out with three sub-par teams in Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest.

These games are Manziel’s chance to show he is the top candidate to raise the Heisman Trophy at the end of the year.

Second Tier

Sean Mannion, Junior QB, Oregon State

Stock: UP
Week 9 Stats: 41-57, 271 yards, 1 TD
Season Stats: 270-391, 3263 yards, 30 TDs, 3 INT

Raise your hand if you knew Mannion would make his way onto this list by this time in the season... Now put your hand down if you live outside of Crovallis, Oregon.

The junior has been stellar through eight games this year. He’s thrown for 30 touchdowns, while only throwing three picks, He’s also thrown for over 3,200 yards and is pace to throw for 4800 yards and 45 touchdowns.

He continued his success this past weekend. Although the Beavers fell to Stanford 20-12, Mannion had himself a nice game. Funny thing is, this

was not a great game by Mannion’s standards. This was the first game he didn’t throw for at least 350 yards and multiple scores.

He has thrown for more touchdowns than any other guy on the list ahead of him, and trails only Winston in terms of completion percentage. The question becomes, why then, is he not higher on the list?

The answer is simple: strength of schedule.

Yes, he plays in the Pac-12, but hasn’t played a quality team outside of Stanford. Their other lose came in week one, against Eastern Washington. That loss alone, will cause a loss in votes for Mannion.

His stats speak volumes, however, and if the Beavers are able to finish the season with 10 victories, including a win at Oregon, late in November, then Mannions name will rise, possibly significantly, on this list.

Honorable Mention

Tajh Boyd, Senior QB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, Junior QB, Louisville                                                                                           Bryce Petty, Junior QB, Baylor

Tyler Zulli is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email tcz5008@psu.edu.