Heisman Watch: Week Four

Story posted September 23, 2013 in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Zulli

Front Runners

Tajh Boyd, Senior QB, Clemson

Stats: 56-90, 683 passing yards, 62.2% completion, 6 TD’s, 148.0 QB Rating

Tajh Boyd entered his senior year at Clemson without his number one target from last season, DeAndre Hopkins, and seemed poised to prove his naysayers wrong.

Boyd has continued his connection with standout receiver Sammy Watkins.

Boyd has the Tigers roaring out of the gate, posting a 3-0 record to date, all while being ranked number three in the nation. He already has a Top 25 victory under his belt, after defeating no. five Georgia in Week 1 of the season. If Boyd can keep his squad from losing any games in the ACC, we may not only see Boyd hoisting the Heisman, but we also may see Clemson appear in the National Championship.

Marcus Mariota, Sophomore QB, Oregon

Stats: 49-82, 889 passing yards, 59.8% completion, 8 TD’s, 262 rushing yards, 5 TD’s

After losing head coach Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason, some wondered if the Ducks offense could produce at the same high level that they did with Kelly at the helm. Through four weeks, Mariota has proven that the Ducks will be just fine without their previous coach.

Mariota, a true dual-threat quarterback, can burn you on just about any play with his arm or his legs. Mariota, just like Boyd, has his team headed in the right direction once again, posting a 3-0 record and commanding the number two spot in the country.

Stat-wise, Mariota appears to be the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. My only reasoning as top why Boyd is placed ahead of Mariota at this point, is his key victory over Georgia. Mariota and the Ducks have yet to face a team of Georgia’s caliber, and until they do, I’m sticking with Boyd.

Right Behind, But Still Very Much Alive

Johnny Manziel, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M

Stats: 77-110, 1228 passing yards, 70 comp%, 12 TD’s, 255 rushing yards, 3 TD’s

We’ve all heard and seen the off field antics of “Johnny Football,” during the offseason following his Heisman victory in 2012. It’s clear Manziel is a kid, still, and wants to have fun, regardless of the outcome.

Bottom line; Manziel can play football. Manziel is electric, whether it come from his arm or legs. Manziel was benched for the first half of Week 1, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing over 1,400 yards of total offense. His A&M team suffered a loss in their rematch with Alabama, but Manziel bounced back nicely, and has the Aggies at 3-1 in the toughest division in college football, the SEC. If Manziel continues to succeed, and keeps his Aggies in the win column, we could see him rise quickly in the coming weeks.

Teddy Bridgewater, Junior QB, Louisville

Stats: 79-110, 1214 passing yards, 71.8 comp% 14 TD’s 204.7 QB Rating

Teddy Bridgewater, the consensus pick as to who will be the first quarterback taken in the 2014 draft, has done a good job of putting those high expectations into practice. Bridgewater has his Cardinals sitting at 4-0 to this point, and the four contests haven’t been close. They’ve been rolling through teams, with their smallest margin of victory being 14-point win against Kentucky.

The reason I’m not completely sold on Bridgewater just yet is the lack of talent that Louisville has faced to this point. 14 touchdowns are 14 touchdowns, but when you’re doing it against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky, and most recently Florida International, it’s tough to judge just how good Bridgewater really is. Bridgewater, just like Manziel, could easily leap up this list in a mere matter of weeks, but until the Cardinals play a defense of higher quality, I’ll keep Bridgewater here. UCF and Rutgers should both give us a good judgment on where he stands.

Needs Improvement

Jameis Winston, Freshman QB, Florida State

Stats: 50-64, 718 passing yards, 8 TD’s, 210.5 QB Rating

Ever since Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Award last season, critics were looking for that next big thing in terms of freshmen players taking the college football world by storm. Jameis Winston has probably the best chance of being that guy. Winston, filling the shoes of E.J. Manuel, stepped into the role of starting quarterback for the Seminoles and immediately made an impact.

In his first game, Winston went 25-27 for 356 yards and four TD’s against Pittsburgh. Just like Bridgewater, Winston’s team has demolished their competition thus far.  FSU is currently ranked eighth in the country, but I still need to see how Winston reacts when he stares down a quality defense. A date with the Clemson Tigers in just under a month should accurately portray just where Winston stands among the college elite. 

Honorable Mention

Todd Gurley, Sophomore RB, Georgia

A.J. McCarron, Senior QB, Alabama

Kenny Guiton, Senior QB, Ohio State

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