We're a day away from the first college football game of 2009 as I write this, and while we wait to see if Florida can actually cover a 73-point spread, if Rich Rodriguez pausing to (pretend to) cry gains the same kind of press conference infamy as "I'M A MAN! I'M FORTY!", and if Tim Tebow can turn the Gatorade into wine...what better place to start a discussion than Heisman candidates?
It's the award that turns good players into great ones, great ones into legends, and most everyone into an NFL flop. Still, getting to heft the 25-pound Golden Stiffarm goes into the record books and becomes the defining highlight of any player's career.
I'm borrowing the list-of-five format from my friend Razor over at Kick-Out Wrestling and his weekly Five Count. I'm well aware he borrowed it from other people before him, but I'm crediting him with giving me the idea. Now, this is the second time I've pimped Razor here, and he's yet to do the same for me. How about a little reciprocation, boss?
Anyway, the Top 5 preseason Heisman candidates according to Starr* Rated:
5. QB Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
The "random" small-school selection. LeFevour could be considered a "poor man's Tim Tebow" for his all-around running and passing game. Me? I prefer to consider Tebow a "casual football fan's Dan LeFevour."
When Tebow took the Heisman in 2007 with his EA Sports-type numbers of 4181 total yards and 55 touchdowns, Thunder Dan toiled in relative obscurity, unless you're a mid-major fetishist. But LeFevour actually rolled up almost 600 yards MORE than Tebow, while recording a very respectable 46 touchdowns himself. Then, I got an eyeful of LeFevour, watching him torch my Purdue Boilermakers for 406 total yards and six TD's in a 51-48 war.
Last season, an ankle injury reduced LeFevour to "merely" 3376 total yards (only 43 fewer than Tebow) and 27 TD's...in ELEVEN games, not 14.
CMU returns a lot of major contributors from last season, and the schedule makers have given Dan early opportunities to get on the board, as CMU opens with games at Arizona and Michigan State. Winning either would get him a momentary big-up on GameDay. Winning both should get him on everybody's watch list...not just the mid-major fetishists.
4. QB Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State
Robinson's got a tough row to hoe simply based on the schedule he must play. His candidacy lies in whether or not he can dominate all season AND lead the Cowboys to wins over Oklahoma and Texas. If he can't do even one of the above, his chances will be torpedoed instantly.
But as far as his playing style, he's a total "BCW" guy. As in "Bathroom Can Wait." He's a big, athletic quarterback (wait, he's white...shouldn't I be praising his "intangibles" and "fundamentals?" Ahem...) who was one of only two BCS conference QB's to run for 800 yards and pass for 2800. The other one was Jesus in Cleats himself down in Gainesville. If you do go to the can, don't be surprised if you get back to your seat and hear about how he broke a run and made three guys miss or connected on a long bomb to his All-American favorite target, Dez Bryant.
Actually, maybe Bryant should be #4 and Robinson should be #5, since a receiver's chances aren't necessarily hurt by his team's win-loss performance. All Dez will have to do is put up numbers. But, I'm one who subscribes to the "QB makes the receiver" philosophy, so Robinson's getting his picture up here.
3. RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
Yes, he plays in an option offense. Yes, there are about 27 other running backs on the roster who are going to get carries. Yes, Tech may actually have a passing game, unlike most of Paul Johnson's Navy teams.
BUT...Dwyer was one of only nine players last season to top seven yards per carry. He did it while only getting about 15 carries per game. And quite a few of those carries were YouTube moments...just ask Anthony Reddick or half the Georgia defense. If Johnson decides that it might be advantageous to throw a little more weight behind one particular Heisman candidate, Dwyer's workload could go up, including his underutilized skills catching the ball in space (209 yards and a TD on only eight catches) All he needs is one opening to produce another highlight, and a healthy highlight reel is any Heisman hopeful's best friend.
2. RB Jahvid Best, California
Remember the nine guys who broke seven yards per carry last season? Well, only two of them broke eight YPC, and this is one of them.
1580 yards is a total that can be achieved on a team with a struggling passing game. However, it usually involves three-and-four-yard chunks of turf, not eight. He had 19 runs of 20+ yards, seven of at least 60, and three that went more than 80. That's damned hard to do with nine guys in the box staring at you.
If quarterback Kevin Riley can actually play well enough to keep his job all season, Best should see a lot more honest defenses. Best will also have to prove he can get out of the blocks fast after a toe injury slowed his preseason work, plus he has the psychological hurl...er, hurdle of opening against Maryland, the team that held him to 25 yards last year and literally beat the puke out of him.
1. QB Colt McCoy, Texas
McCoy had to sit back and watch as archrival Oklahoma's Sam Bradford took home the big trophy last year. It was sort of a "What more can I do?" moment, as McCoy had only completed SEVENTY-SIX POINT SEVEN percent of his passes over the season, accounting for 4420 total yards and 45 touchdowns against only eight picks. Bradford's equally videogame-ish 50 passing touchdowns carried the day, however.
Finishing second in the Heisman race, not to mention the Horns getting shafted out of the Big XII South title, can accomplish two very positive things for McCoy this year.
One, they serve as motivators. Can he complete seven of every nine this season? I doubt it, but with a potential All-America target in Jordan Shipley, he's got someone who can go get any passes that would otherwise end up on the turf or worse.
Two, they establish him as a sentimental favorite this year. He's wrapping up a four-year career that most any other player would kill for, and voters may be inclined to reward him for it this year. Add to that the fact that Bradford and Tebow already have their hardware, and McCoy can actually benefit from voters who don't want the last two winners getting greedy.
I can hear some people now..."Wait? That's it? Where's Bradford? Where's Tebow? WTF, man?" Unfortunately, they get lumped into the "Did Not Place" category. Since you asked, let's discuss why.
DNP. QB Tim Tebow, Florida
DNP. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Yes, these two get lumped together, and for a very good reason. They're already linked by virtue of being the only two former Heisman winners to still be collegiate competitors in the same season. I'm linking them, however, for another reason:
Neither one is actually going to win again.
They'll be getting mad votes, sure, unless one or both have their arms torn off. BUT, as was said in the Colt McCoy entry, these guys have already gotten theirs. And there's a certain amount of ennui that may set in with Heisman voters, who will likely want these guys to do what they haven't done before.
Tebow may have to account for 70 TD's by himself. Bradford may have to throw 70. But even duplicating their past feats is just that...duplicating. We've seen it before. If these two aren't improving on past performance, why honor them over some guy who may well be?
The Tebow/Bradford commentary is bonus content that the guys on Bleacher Report have to come here to see. As a(nother) bonus, I offer the Games That I'd Watch If I Wasn't Getting Up For Class Or Traveling To A Bachelor Party This Weekend:
Thursday: Give me Boise State and Oregon. Any game that shows me that surreal blue turf, I'm all for. Never mind the fact that it's two Top-20 schools getting it on to see who's more for real.
Friday: Tulsa-Tulane? Eh, don't care.
Saturday: Since even ESPN360 won't touch Toledo/Purdue, I guess I'd try Navy/Ohio State, Middle Tennessee State/Clemson (since I can't big up the old school, guess I'll do so for the new one), then possibly waiting for Central Michigan/Arizona to see if LeFevour can make me look the genius. At least, I would be if I wasn't getting drunk on a lake somewhere. If this is my last post, know that I quite possibly may have drowned happy.
Peace and be wild...and game on, motherfuckers.