Posted October 28, 2013

Heisman Watch Week 9: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel under the radar?

Heisman, Heisman Trophy, Heisman Watch, Johnny Football, Johnny Manziel
The rushing numbers have dipped, but Johnny Manziel has topped his 2012 season in many ways.

The rushing stats have dipped, but Johnny Manziel is besting his 2012 season in many ways. (Cal Sport Media via AP)

Has the country completely forgotten about Johnny Manziel? While Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston dominate most of the Heisman Trophy conversation, last year’s winner is seemingly flying under the radar in College Station.

Yet Manziel’s performance against Vanderbilt on Saturday further proved that the polarizing player isn’t out of the Heisman hunt just yet.

As always, Manziel faces a couple of challenges in his path to the trophy. First, only one player (Ohio State running back Archie Griffin from 1974-75) has ever taken home the trophy twice; that notion alone will play into minds of voters, some of whom hesitate to cast their ballots for a previous winner. Secondly, Manziel’s reputation, fair or not, isn’t as spotless as it was in 2012. Many voters view the Heisman as a character award as well as an on-field award, and some don’t look fondly on Manziel’s cocky persona.

But it was only a year ago that Manziel himself broke through the Heisman’s freshman barrier, and the quarterback’s play this season has seemingly overshadowed the negative narrative that followed him off the field. His outing against the Commodores reminded us that he still might be the country’s best player.

Heisman Watch — Week 9

1. Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon
2. Jameis Winston, QB Florida State
3. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
4. Bryce Petty, QB Baylor
5. AJ McCarron, QB Alabama
6. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson
7. Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville
8. Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State
9. Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin
10. Aaron Murray, QB Georgia

Player of the Week

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB
Week 9 stats: 25-of-35 for 305 yards, four touchdowns, one interception

Manziel injured his shoulder in Texas A&M’s loss to Auburn last week, and Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin described his quarterback’s status prior to kickoff with Vanderbilt as “hopeful.” Nobody was entirely surprised when Manziel ultimately suited up -– “In my mind I was always going to play,” Manziel told reporters postgame –- and if his shoulder was nagging him, it didn’t show.

Manziel wasted no time in toying with Vanderbilt, completing 15-of-17 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns by the end of the first quarter, including 10-of-10 on the opening scoring drive. He tacked on another score before leaving the game midway through the third period with A&M holding a 42-17. After the game, Sumlin said Manziel only practiced once during the previous week while dealing with shoulder pain.

It’s interesting to compare Manziel’s numbers to those of his redshirt freshman season. In a year in which quarterback play is the story of the SEC, Manziel currently leads the conference in passing efficiency (181.9), an improvement from his 2012 season mark of 155.3. His 73-percent completion rate ranks third in the country, also up from 68 percent at the end of last year.

But Manziel’s stats are regressing in other categories. The passer has already thrown eight picks this year; he threw nine in all of 2012. He’s also recorded a mere six rushing touchdowns so far, while he’d punched in 13 rushing scores through eight games last year (and eventually 21 on the season). That’s partially because Manziel isn’t taking to the ground quite as often. He’s carried the ball 89 times thus far, down from 117 attempts through eight games in 2012.

Perhaps the biggest reason Manziel largely rests outside of the Heisman buzz this year is that Texas A&M currently sits at No. 12 in the BCS standings with two losses while Mariota and Winston headline teams in the national title hunt.

Manziel’s Aggies had already lost both of two losses of 2012 by this point, as well, and they went on to win the final four games of the season, including the storied matchup with Alabama. Perhaps an upset on the road against LSU or Missouri this time around could give Manziel the late boost he needs.

Stock rising

Marcus Mariota
Mariota only found the end zone once against the Bruins, his lowest scoring output of the season, but he completed 21-of-28 passes for 230 yards and didn’t throw an interception (yet again) against Anthony Barr and that UCLA defense. But more importantly, the sophomore helped engineer four Oregon touchdown drives in the second half to break open a 14-14 halftime knot. Now Mariota can enjoy a bye week before facing his stiffest test yet against Stanford on a Thursday night.

MANDEL: Oregon’s defense gains measure of respect in win over UCLA

Jameis Winston
Manziel wasn’t the only quarterback to enjoy a fast start Saturday. Winston threw all three of his touchdown passes to three different receivers in the first quarter as the Seminoles built an early 35-0 lead against NC State. He finished with 292 passing yards in just over one half of action. Given Winston’s youth, his efficiency in the pocket has been remarkable; his 207.0 passer rating currently ranks second in the country.

Bryce Petty
It took Bryce Petty less than three quarters of action to surpass his passing mark for the season. Baylor’s quarterback threw for a season-high 430 yards while tossing three touchdowns and rushing for one more as his Bears bombarded Kansas. Behind Petty, eight of Baylor’s nine scoring drives took less than two minutes. It’s no wonder the junior is the nation’s leader in passing efficiency (219.0) and yards per attempt (13.9).

No player has dissected defenses more efficiently and prolifically than Baylor's Bryce Petty.

No player has dissected defenses more efficiently and prolifically than Baylor’s Bryce Petty. (Ed Zurga/AP)

Stock falling

Sean Mannion
Oregon’s State’s quarterback came into the Beavers’ game against Stanford as the country’s leading passer, but the Cardinal defense put up a fight against the junior. Mannion notched season-highs in completions (41) and attempts (57) while managing season-lows in yards (271) and touchdowns (one). The road doesn’t get much easier for Mannion either, as Oregon State closes the season against USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon.

RICKMAN: Stanford smothers Mannion, Oregon State in 20-12 victory

Heisman chatter

Tweets of the week
That’s quite a comparison:

Marcus Mariota has a motor on him:

Interesting hypothetical:

Video of the week
The first touchdown of Johnny Manziel’s highlight reel against Vanderbilt capped a drive in which the passer completed all 10 of his pass attempts, putting any speculation regarding his injured shoulder to rest.

MANDEL: College Football Overtime: Which BCS contender most likely to finish unbeaten?; more Overtime

31 comments
ScudAg56
ScudAg56

Either Winston or Mariota will win the Heisman...THEN they will play Alabama in the BCS NCG. If they don't score at least 42 points against Bama (like Manziel did), then we'll know who really deserved the trophy. By the way, Bama has given up only 36 points to the other 7 teams they have played COMBINED.

Cool
Cool

Hate on Johnny all you want, but the fact remains he is one of the most dynamic college players out there.  He could have taken the Clowney route and decided to talk about how he is hurt and not risk his NFL draft position.. but instead, week after week, he goes out and plays the game of football like someone who needs it like a drug.  He hits hard, he gets hit hard... he makes the plays that others wouldn't dare to try. He has his arm in a sling on Sunday and Monday and by Wednesday he has it thrown in the sideline and is playing his heart out.  That makes him Johnny Football and it makes him the leading candidate for the Heisman .. like it or not.

Jim Swanson, MS, CIH, CSP, CSHM
Jim Swanson, MS, CIH, CSP, CSHM

How can anyone take these rankings seriously when you don't have NIU's Jordan Lynch in the top ten? What did he do this year? Well, he lead the first MAC team to beat two big ten teams in one season, is undefeated, and this weekend he ran for a touchdown, threw four more and caught one-in three quarters of play. He is 4th in the country for rushing yards and he is more of a full back than a half back. Time to pay attention.....

cuthbert
cuthbert

Manziel didn't deserve it last year. He won it on the strength of one game. Great season, but not the most outstanding player of the season.

Rax
Rax

Heis·man Tro·phy - an annual award given to the outstanding college football player in the United States.

Can anybody look at us with a straight face and say that AJ McCarron should even be in the conversation of who is the most outstanding football player in the country?

RichLGerhold
RichLGerhold

I want to know why Carlos Hyde isn't even getting any mention. He's been practically unstoppable this year and his numbers are even more impressive considering he was benched for Ohio State's first four games, especially when those first four games he would have likely terrorized the weak opponents they faced.

DonMenkenzie
DonMenkenzie

Johnny Manziel SUCKS! he wins my TOILET bowl award. How doesn't even belong in the race for this years award. Dude is a faker, his injuries are not injuries. He is trying to ante up his Heisman worth because he can NO long get close to Marcus Mariota. And Jamie who? let me know when he plays more than 2 ranks teams, it's easy to put up stats when all you play is CUP-CAKE teams.

(Marcus Mariota) BAR-NONE best College QB right now!!! He is and should be the Heisman winner class of 2013.

Sklopr
Sklopr

Braxton Miller is killing it right now. If he keeps it up, needs to head to New York.

spiderz17
spiderz17

Did you know there are other positions besides QB?  Just saying...

Nicholas9
Nicholas9

@Cool  

It all comes down to wins and losses in the Heisman race, if A&M can beat LSU on the road...then he will have a chance, if they loose...then that would make him 0-3 against the best teams in his division. At this point,it is Mariota's to lose.....if Oregon wins out, then the trophy is his.

ScudAg56
ScudAg56

@cuthbert Yeah, he only had the highest Total Yards of any Heisman winner EVER! I'm sure there were a bunch of others just like him.

Blinker
Blinker

I have to agree with you 100 percent.  The kid had a great season and no one can take that away from him.  The truth is the Heisman had a weak class last year.  Two of the front runners had a bad loss very late in the season.  Then you had a defense player move into the picture.   Say what you will he was lucky to win some of the games he did.  

Bottom line is the Heisman has become a joke anyway.  The trophy used to carry class and prestige.  Now...  Heisman stock is falling through the floor.  Makes me feel bad for the players that won it when it was TOPS!!!!!

DerekSugimura
DerekSugimura

@cuthbert In a world of ridiculous sports takes, that one might take the cake.  Manziel broke the SEC's single-season total yardage record, and he did it with one less game than the previous record holder; he dominated the toughest conference in college football.  

Manti Te'o's candidacy was always a joke based entirely on the team for which he played, as shown by Te'o's (lack of) performance in the national championship game.  Collin Klein was a nice, homespun farm boy who never even belonged in the conversation.  Manziel scored a dozen touchdowns more than Klein and put up 1200 more yards of offense.  Plus, he beat the #1 ranked, national champions-to-be . . . on the road.    Manziel wasn't just the best player in college football for 2012; he had possibly the greatest season ever by any individual measure.

ScudAg56
ScudAg56

@Jim Swanson, MS, CIH, CSP, CSHM .Octavious McKoy of D-III Western Connecticut has set the all time single-game rushing record with 455 yards last weekend. Perhaps he should be the Heisman frontrunner

Cool
Cool

@Jim Swanson, MS, CIH, CSP, CSHM If you have to ask, and no one knows who you are talking about, it means he has not had an impact on college football.  Heisman is for someone who has an impact on football and everyone knows it.

ScudAg56
ScudAg56

@DonMenkenzie Did you see Manziel run over that Ole Miss player? Knocked him out cold - had to be carried off on a stretcher.

TCUfan
TCUfan

@spiderz17 Agree. Manziel might not even be the best player on his team.  Might be Evans, he's a beast. Manziel's stats wouldn't be anywhere near what they are without Evans.

Aggie81
Aggie81

@Nicholas9

Realistically. Manziel may not win the Heisman due to his off-season actions.

1). Based on your argument, how many top 20 teams has Oregon played and either won or lost and still throw for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns ?  

2). How many times has Mariota played hurt in a game?

3). How many games has Oregon's defense given up 30 points and forced Mariota to come and score points in order to win the game ?

4). Where is Mariota listed in regards to Manziel in all QB stats ?  

Manziel not only puts up huge stats every week regardless of the opponent, but LIFTS the rest of his team up and makes all of them better.



ScudAg56
ScudAg56

@Blinker Heisman phony Manziel broke all the SEC single season records held by that Heisman phony Cam Newton, more total yards than Heisman phony RGIII or any other Heisman phony in history,  RUSHED for almost as many yards as Heisman phony RUNNING BACK Mark Ingram. What exactly do you consider the Heisman's Golden Years? Troy Smith passing for 2500 yards in 2006? Charles Woodson's 246 total yards in 1997 (alright, he was mostly a DB, but we see WR that get these offensive stats in a single game). JFF had the most total yards EVER by a Heisman winner.


RichLGerhold
RichLGerhold

@cuthbert @spiderz17 Uh, might want to go look at Carlos Hyde right now. If he hadn't been suspended for the 3 games at the beginning of the schedule, he might be at 1000 yards already, especially considering the run defense of those first 3 teams.

Go watch any of his plays in the past several weeks and tell me he hasn't been outstanding.

Blinker
Blinker

@TCUfan @spiderz17  

Nice point because you are correct.  Without Evans he would only have a little more than half his stats (throwing).  RUN johnny RUN!!!!!!

AdamCoy
AdamCoy

@TCUfan @spiderz17 yea manziel threw to evans in high school he made johnny what he is in high school!!!

JustinLJackson
JustinLJackson

@Aggie81 @Nicholas9 I could be wrong, but does Johnny Manziel led the SEC in INTs thrown?  If not, he sure is close.  And, if I recall, a few of those INTs were pretty costly.  


Those are not Heisman moments.