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Monday, December 7, 2009

A breakdown of my Heisman Trophy ballot

I put off voting for the Heisman as long as possible just to let everything that happened last weekend soak in and it still wasn't an easy choice. Nobody ran away with the thing this year and Saturday's games only muddled the situation further. Nevertheless, I had to supply a vote today and here's what I came up with.

First, some guys I considered but ultimately did not put near the top of my list (in no particular order):

Casey Keenum, Houston QB
  • Pros: Put up video game numbers (5,449 passing yards, 43 touchdowns) all season
  • Cons: He faced two defenses all season that were ranked in the top-50 nationally and eight that were 75th or worse
  • Decision: Have to do it against better competition to get my vote
Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame QB
  • Pros: Led nation in passing efficiency; threw for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns to 4 interceptions against decent competition
  • Cons: Fighting Irish went 6-6 this year
  • Decision: I'm not a big believer in the idea that your team needs to succeed for you to win the Heisman, but I don't remember too many moments this year where Clausen simply put Notre Dame on his back and will it to a win.
Kellen Moore, Boise State QB
  • Pros: Undefeated season; 3,325 passing yards, 39 touchdowns and 3 interceptions; 2nd nationally in pass efficiency
  • Cons: Cake schedule
  • Decision: Like Keenum, Moore didn't face the best the country had to offer
Colt McCoy, Texas QB
  • Pros: Got team to national championship, 3,860 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 348 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Cons: Did not play at a Heisman level the first half of the season and put up stinkers in Texas' two biggest games, throwing for 127 yards against Oklahoma and 184 against Nebraska last week with three interceptions
  • Decision: A Heisman winner needs a Heisman moment in my mind. Doing it against Texas A&M's sieve defense doesn't count.
Tim Tebow, Florida QB
  • Pros: He continued to win; 2,413 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 859 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns
  • Cons: Didn't light up the scoreboard the weeks after he was concussed against Kentucky
  • Decision: If this were a career award, Tebow would certainly be up there, but he didn't have as spectacular of a year as other players.
Danario Alexander, Missouri WR
  • Pros: Led the nation with 107 catches and 1,644 receiving yards, was fifth with 13 receiving touchdowns; was sick down the stretch, putting up receiving totals of 123, 214, 200, 173 and 233 in the last five games with eight touchdowns.
  • Cons: Had stinkers in Missouri's two biggest games, finishing with 12 total catches against Nebraska and Texas for 43 and 74 yards, respectively, and no touchdowns.
  • Decision: It's tough for a receiver in this debate, but you've got to come up big in the biggest games to be considered.
As for the actual Heisman, I had four guys that I considered. You could only vote for three. Here were the last four in descending order:

4. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska DT
His position makes him a tough candidate to compare to others. He does so much dirty work at the tackle position that his stats probably suffer, but he had great stats. His 19.5 tackles for a loss were 11th among defense lineman and his 12 sacks were ninth. But if you look at other defensive tackles, he's second to UCLA's Brian Price in TFLs and first in sacks. And there's no denying he's a great player after he nearly single-handedly beat Texas with a 12-tackle, 4.5-sack, 6-TFL performance in the Big 12 title game. In the end, I kept him out of my final three by a hair. It was really almost a coin flip between him and the No. 3 pick.
3. C.J. Spiller, Clemson RB/KR/PR
Spiller helped his cause as much as anyone last Saturday with his performance against Georgia Tech (233 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns). People will point out that he needed those yards just to top 1,000 for the season, but I think Spiller is so much more valuable than just as a running back. In addition to his 11 rushing touchdowns he had 36 receptions for 445 yards and four touchdowns. He returned four kickoff returns for scores and was fourth nationally with a 33.7-yard average. He returned a punt for a touchdown. And he even threw for a score. That's five different ways he accounted for touchdowns this year, and he was in on at least one score in every game. Spiller had some games where he didn't get much going on the ground, but what stood out to me was the way he found other ways to contribute, whether it was catching the ball or on special teams. That was good enough for him to get on my ballot.
2. Mark Ingram, Alabama RB
One of the most consistent running backs in the country, Ingram cemented his place in my top-3 with a fantastic SEC title game performance against Florida in which he ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns and added another 76 yards receiving. He was the No. 1 team in the country's workhorse all year and had some memorable games (176 yards against Ole Miss, 246 against South Carolina, 144 against LSU) that were certainly Heisman worthy. He probably lost some points in my eyes because the one game where I saw him in person, he did absolutely nothing. Auburn's porous defense held him to 30 rushing yards and a 1.9-yard per carry average. But overall, the consistency of Ingram's play all season long got him up to No. 2.
1. Toby Gerhart, Stanford RB
OK, I'll start with his stats, just to get them out of the way. His 1,736 rushing yards led the nation, as did his 26 rushing touchdowns. This is usually where someone brings up the argument that he did it against inferior Pac-10 defenses. But the rankings don't necessarily back that up. Gerhart stacks up very nicely with Ingram in terms of the kind of rushing defenses they faced this year. In seven games against a rushing defense ranked 60th or higher (in the top half of the FBS), Gerhart ran for 1,015 yards (145.0 ypg) and 18 touchdowns. Ingram ran for 924 yards in six of those games (154.0 ypg) with six touchdowns. But despite the SEC's reputation for being the elite defensive conference nationally, Gerhart played against four Pac-10 rushing defenses ranked 30th or higher, finishing with 480 yards (120.0 ypg) and nine touchdowns in those games. Ingram only faced one rushing defense ranked in the top-30 (Florida at No. 13) and obviously had a big game. So the idea that Gerhart didn't face any decent defenses is a fallacy. He had several standout games, especially down the stretch, when he ran for 223 (Oregon), 178 (USC), 136 (California) and 205 yards (Notre Dame) with 13 touchdowns as Stanford finished 3-1. With a slight rushing advantage and an overwhelming touchdown advantage, I felt Gerhart was the choice.


Anonymous said...

Who in the sam heckfire is Casey Clausen? Do you even watch football?

Peter "Big Snacks" Frankenschmidt said...


I love the personal attack line aimed at you beat guys by anyone who disagrees: "Do you even watch football."

AUsome04 said...

Definitely can't argue with picking Gerhart. The guy had the most impressive season of all the candidates considering where Stanford's been the past few years.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly how my ballot would read. Ingram may be faster and more alusive but I love the way Gerhart plows over defenders.

Pete said...

The fact that you put Ingram ahead of Dixon is a travesty. They played similar teams (if anything Dixon played the a tougher defense than anybody Bama played by way of playing Bama). The rest of their schedules are almost identical. You apparently have bought into the "Heisman as most outstanding player on a good team" concept over it's actual stated meaning.

Andy Bitter said...

FLERG! I know it's Jimmy Clausen. My mistake. Although the Ice Man had better hair than his brother.

Jaiden_S said...

Any player who gets held to 32 total yards by our spotty defense doesn't deserve to even be in the conversation for the Heisman. Sorry, but it's true.
I'd love to see Suh sneak in there and get it.

LUCKe27 said...

When you consider the Pac 10 defenses that were ranked well against the rush, you also have to consider that the Pac 10 teams they play don't focus on rushing, making their rushing yards against stats look good nationally.

Jerry Hinnen said...

... says the guy responding to a post featuring the Pac-10's Heisman candidate running back.

Also, Oregon is one of the country's top rushing teams, Cal had Jahvid Best, Oregon St. is powered by Jacquizz Rodgers, etc. This kind of thinking couldn't be more wrong.