Hello Followers. Hope you’re having a great week!
Well amidst all the signings, defections, and the emergence of new connections, I thought that it was time to do what it is that I do best: Take the path of least resistance (e.g. steal someone else's ideas).
So, today I take a page right out of Ted Miller’s playbook as I give you my early season Pac-12 favorites to win the 2012 Heisman trophy. And because I am in a particularly zany mood, not only will I provide you with my top 5, I will actually do so while counting backwards!
So, with that in mind, here we go, FIVE-FOUR-THREE-TWO-ONE…..
Followers, we all know that there are LOTS of developments—both good and bad—that can happen on the College Football front between now and the start of the season. For instance, kids get hurt, new talents emerge that interrupt the playing time of would-be-stars, assistants and schemes change, blah, blah, blah. The point being: These players represent my top 5 IF the season started tomorrow.
But before I get to what I am calling my "fab-five", let me give you my fit-five—e.g. kids that are worthy of consideration, but didn’t quite make the top. Their names, along with a brief rationale for their exclusion, follow:
Sutra’s Fit Five
John White IV, RB, Utah. While Superstars abound in the conference of Champions, John White #4 lurks in the background as an unsuspecting powerhouse. After all, all White did last year was run for 1500 in yards in spite of the fact that everyone, their brother, AND their brother's mother (which is, of course, their mother, unless their brother comes from another mother..) knew he was getting the rock. On the plus side for White, the Utes look to represent the primary challenger to SC in the South. So, White will get his chance to step forward when the men of Troy visit SLC. The negative? The Utes don't currently have an offensive coordinator and so questions related to scheme--not to mention quarterback--serve to cloud his potential candidacy.
Keith Price, QB, Washington: Hard to keep Price off the five of the fab variety, given both the touch and moxy he exhibited scoring 39 touchdowns in the loss to Baylor High School's defense last month. But, being in the Heisman discussion means not only winning games, it means winning BIG games. And I’m just not sure how he will do that with their schedule and without Chris Polk. The LSU game will obviously present a HUGE opportunity for him.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA. Ditto my discussion about wins. While I am of the mind that the Mora hire is going to work out quite well for the Powder Puff Blue Bears, I am not sure that they are going to get the quarterback play they to unseat USC in 2012 (which is what I think it will take to win the Heisman out of the South). However, Franklin’s near 1000 yard season last year (5.9 yards a carry) should not be overlooked, nor should his 1200 yard season the year prior. Meaning, Franklin could approach 4,000 yards by season’s end. And that would go a long way toward booking a trip to the Big Apple--IF the Bruins can contend.
Stephen Taylor, RB, Stanford. Ditto my discussion about Jonathan Franklin (see what I mean about the “Path of Least Resistance?”). What’s more, in tearing up Clay Bennett State to the tune of nearly 180 yards in the Fiesta Bowl, Taylor made the statement to the nation that neither himself or the Cardinal are going away anytime soon. Like Franklin, a 1500 yard campaign would put Taylor in the 4,000 yard category for his career. And, in my book, 1500 yards for Taylor signals another 10 win campaign for the folks in Palo Alto. And if THAT happens, then the Trees might have yet another player at the Downtown Athletic Club in mid-December.
Marquis Lee, WR, USC. Lots of talk around Pac-12 Nation that Mr. Lee may be better than Mr. Woods. And if you watch tape of his 225 yard 2 touch performance against UCLA, well, he just may be. The biggest problem with Lee has to do with the rest of his teammates: They’re not only GREAT, they also already have more hype. What’s more, when you factor in the amount of exposure a man named Marquess Wilson may muster nationally (as a potential 1st team All-American candidate), one could argue that Lee has an uphill battle just to become 1st team All-Conference. So, for Lee to be in the discussion, the Trojans are going to have to run the table, while Barkley and Woods have to have off years at the same time. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.
5. Robert Woods, WR, USC.
Tough year for Mr. Woods, as he only had 15 Touchdowns to go with his 1300 yards receiving. (Heavy Sigh). In addition to his talent, the big thing going for Woods is that he has all the notoriety of a pre-season All-American superstar, without the expectation of perfection to go along with it. That is, while Barkley loses the Heisman with a regular season loss, Woods can still win it if the men of Troy stumble. But to do so, he’s going to have to go for at least 110 receptions, 1500 yards, and 20 touchdowns. And it wouldn't hurt if several of those touches included spectacular yards after catch..(insert SportsCenter anthem sound effect here)
4. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State.
One of two potential dark horses that I 100% believe could emerge by season’s end. The thing working against Tuel is that people may discount any ridiculous numbers he may rack up because of Leach’s system. The thing working for Tuel is that he is well poised to rack up massive numbers because he is a part of Leach’s system. What’s more, the allure of Leach as a big time coach and WSU’s history of QB success, would be nice points of departure for a publicity campaign on his behalf.
But ultimately, Tuel’s ability to capture National Headlines depends on how the Cougars fare in the Won-Loss column, particularly in games against BYU and Oregon when Leach’s return to the game will garner attention (Not to mention the HBO prospect). While a 10-2 season appears necessary to gain the necessary invite to New York, 9-3 might just get him in the conversation if he throws for 4800 yards and 38+ Touchdowns. At minimum, he’d have to lead the Cougs to a perfect stretch run (late October on), including BIG wins @Stanford and @Utah along with UW, UCLA, and Arizona State.
3. Bryan Bennett, QB, Oregon.
Many gave a big “Can you believe how wide open the Pac-12 North is???” type comment after Darron Thomas decided to bolt to the NFL. In fact, Athlon actually anointed Washington as the front-runner following Thomas’ stunning, if not ill-fated announcement.
What the pundits have failed to notice, however, is that Thomas’ understudies may actually be better than him. And in my mind at least, Bryan Bennett has an upside that is nothing short of TERRIFYING. For instance, consider his stat line in three games last year (25-46-396--6 TD, 0 Int.) Impressive. On top of that, the kid has a rifle arm and is actually faster and a better runner than Thomas. In other words, LOOK THE F OUT!!!!
The thing working against Bennett is Oregon’s schedule. Because of their cup-cake non-conference schedule, folks nationally may be wary of giving Bennett too much cred. for whatever success he musters against Pac-12 foes. What’s more, while I would be foolish to predict upsets in these games, count me in as a guy who thinks early season games against Arizona and WSU are not cupcake games for a Ducks team that will be VERY untested at that point in the young season.
In other words, in order for Bennett to win the Heisman next year, Oregon is going to have to be nearly perfect. And that means he and they probably have to beat USC TWICE.
2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC.
Without question, Movie Star Matt enters the season the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Last year, “the Bark” threw for a cool 3500 yards to go along with something like 38 Touchdowns. What an underachiever, right?
The thing that’s amazing about the Bark’s numbers is that USC basically slept through the first third of the season, mustering PALTRY offensive numbers against Syracuse, Minnesota, Utah, and Arizona State. And so, when you look at Bark’s numbers, consider that he didn't even catch fire until the last half of the season. Meaning: There’s no reason to believe that he won’t challenge for 4400 yards and 40 Touchdowns even in a pro-style offense.
The thing that’s working against Bark is that he has to have a perfect season to win because, like Luck last year, every great thing that he does will be viewed as what he is expected to do. So, while the LA/Hollywood Highlight engine will be a HUGE plus for him and his candidacy, USC is going to have to finish the year in the National Championship game for him to win it, and even then, he may split votes with teammates Woods and Lee. Man, it’s tough being a Trojan.
Hear that recruits?
1.De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon.
So, at this point, you all know my recipe for Heisman success. You have to win (Oregon, check). You have to have numbers (Thomas/Oregon, check). You have to have a publicity platform (Oregon, check). You have to have highlights and flash (Oregon/Thomas, check). And in a field where you’re gonna have the likes of Barkley, Woods, The Honey Badger, Landry Jones, and so forth in the fray, I’d argue that you need another element: VERSATILITY. And as we all saw in the Rose Bowl as well as throughout the season, Thomas has the potential to show his “Wow Potential” all over the field: As a running back, as a wide receiver, as a kick returner, and as a punt returner. In short, I expect Thomas to make a run this year that will make both Tim Brown and Desmond Howard seem like afterthoughts.
Okay, that's it for today. The Khan says he's gonna be back tomorrow with some more dull-edged analysis and insight.
Until then, Go Cougs!!!!