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Johnny Heisman

December 8th, 2012 by

Well, tonight history is made. One man will be added to one of the most exclusive fraternities in all of sports. So the question is: Who will win the Heisman trophy? The answer: Johnny Football.

Why? Well, he already had a more impressive season than Collin Klein, so that automatically knocks the Kansas St. QB out of consideration. The one blemish on Klein’s record is a big one. That loss to Baylor is like that zit taking up most of your nose on picture that no one can look past it. Middle school was fun right? Hey, that’s what throwing three picks against the then-worst defense in college football will do.

So we are left with Manti Te’o and Johnny Manziel. Both had impressive seasons. Te’o has been the soft-spoken but hard-hitting leader of the Notre Dame defense and led the Irish to the National Championship game. Johnny Manziel has been Houdini-like escaping near-death jailbreak blitzes and breaking out of the grasps of some of the top defenses in the country.

Both candidates are fighting history. No freshman has ever won the trophy and only one defensive player (Charles Woodson) has taken home the award since 1950.

Te’o has the university prestige, the #1 ranking and the highly publicized season. Manziel has the big numbers, highlight reel where you’re saying, “Did he really do that?”, and the marquee win against then-#1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Te’o has racked up over 100 tackles, is top-5 in the country with seven picks and seems to be in on every play. However, the case against Te’o is the Heisman Trophy is an offensive dominated award. It is hard for voters, and the public, to quantify his numbers versus an offensive player. Yes, Te’o has over 100 tackles, but when you look at his solo tackles, he has 52. That ranks him at 59th in the country in that statistic. And when I think of the Heisman Trophy, I think of 59th best.

While he has been in on every play and very, very good, he hasn’t been dominant quite like a N’Damukong Suh was in his final weeks at Nebraska. The solo tackles and “dominant” label isn’t necessarily Te’o’s fault though. He has a very strong defensive line and linebackers who probably have helped on gang tackles to give Te’o those assisted tackles and have prevented ball carriers to get through the line to Te’o. Opponent offensive coordinators can also game plan to run away from Te’o, while when you have an offensive superstar, the coaches can dictate a game plan to get him involved.

Don’t get me wrong, Te’o has been a phenomenal player. Notre Dame wouldn’t be where they are now without him and he will make a great NFL player, but the odds are stacked against him.

Now, to Johnny Football.

Manziel’s two biggest knocks are the losses to Florida and LSU. The loss to Florida was Texas A&M’s debut in the SEC and the time of possession in the second half was dominated by the Gators. Manziel was only able to muster up 220 total yards. Manziel’s worst game of the year came against the Bayou Bengals of LSU. He threw three picks, but was able to put up 300 total yards. Why is it ok for Johnny Manziel to throw three picks in a loss and not for Collin Klein? Because LSU was second defensively when they played this game, Baylor was dead last when they did that to Collin Klein.

So how can a quarterback with two losses on his record be considered for the Heisman? Just look at last years winner. Robert Griffin III’s Baylor Bears had three losses on the year, but accumulated just over 5000 total yards in his season.

It is easy to see similarities between last year’s winner and this year’s likely winner. Both have an incredible escape ability, have cool nicknames, throw for a high completion percentage and pick up the yards by the boat load. RG3 had 47 total touchdowns while Manziel had 43.

This year, Manziel has 4,600 total yards, with still the Cotton Bowl to play. That is more than Cam Newton and Tim Tebow had in the years they won their Heismans. He also led the SEC in rushing up until last week when both Todd Gurley of Georgia and Eddie Lacy passed him. They, however, had the benefit of an extra game with the SEC Championship.

Manziel threw for 24 touchdowns and 8 picks, while also rushing for 19 touchdowns as well. He basically showed the country the only thing he couldn’t do offensively was kick extra points (as we’ve seen against Sam Houston State).

The most impressive thing about all this is he did all this against the top defenses in the country. I don’t think anyone who claims to be an educated college football fan can argue against the claim that the best college football and best defenses come from the SEC.

In fact, I would argue that if Texas A&M hadn’t left the Big 12 for the SEC, Manziel could have eclipsed the 6,000 yard mark and the Aggies would be playing in a BCS bowl game. They would not, however, have the marquee win that they have against Alabama, though.

With that marquee win and staggering numbers against the nation’s best defenses are the reason why after tonight Johnny Football will be known as Johnny Heisman.

-Jordan Hamm

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