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!!!!
This is a fun read, and the comments are "interesting" to say the least. The one thing no one even seem to be thinking about is "What if there's a QB battle/controversy at good ole Cougarville next fall?" Tuel enters as #1, but what if by his play, Halliday emerges as the better QB? Not saying...just asking.
Gotta agree that Bennet is one scary dude. We'll need some D linemen who can bench press a house and run a sub 4.0 40. (wouldn't that be nice!)
Sorry to bring up Moos again. I don't have a blog that anyone will read! He mentioned an interesting story which I hadn't heard. He talked about the 12 Pac-12 trying to figure out scheduling. They had just held a vote on whether USC and UCLA would be guaranteed to play CAL and Stanford every year. UCLA and USC were insisting on it and you essentially had the 4 NW schools and I believe CU and Utah against it. They voted and it was deadlocked at 6-6. The ADs took a break and Moos started to think about it and went back and changed his vote in favor breaking the tie to make it 7-5. Woodward then approached Moos and said WTF are you doing and was very upset. Moos replied that if USC and UCLA are dumb enough (he didn't say those words, but was more kind) to insist on playing CAL and Stanford every year rather than us, then so be it.
@ptowncoug3012 It's true. All this scheduling does is give more losses to the Cali schools, which gives more power to everyone else--kind of like the SEC playing 8 conference games.
To quote Marlin Perkins of Wild Kindom lore: HERE COME THE WILDEBEASTS...:
Jeff Tuel is NOT a better Heisman candidate than Keith Price, or even Marquess Wilson, for that matter.
Unless this was a joke article that I'm not getting.
@UWJasonUW Well, you don't get a lot of things, Jason...like a quality education for example. :)
On the serious side, I might have to agree with you if we continue to see improvement in an already very good quarterback in Price (see Baylor performance (a one-time out of your mind performance or the new norm for Keith?)) AND with Wilson.
On the pro-Sutra side of things, ask yourself one question Jason, what position wins more Super Bowl MVPs, regular season MVPs AND Heisman trophies (in the last couple decades in the post rush-dominant offense era)? That's right, the quarterback. Fair or unfair. So if Tuel and Wilson's numbers both skyrocket under Leach, Tuel may--I say MAY--get more credit.
Price is still better than Tuel, and a more likely Heisman candidate based on win potential. Tuel is also better than Bennett, based on offensive scheme. So really, this is pretty backwards on all counts.
I feel like this was the same conversation from last year. "What's Polk going to do when opposing defenses don't have to worry about Locker?!?" Answer: We got better.
Our defense was so stinking bad under Holt that any improvement will garner 1-3 additional wins.
Too bad Heaps transferred. I was really hoping to see Mizell give him a circa 2010 reverse salto.
I agree to an extent with this UW rabble rouser. I think WSU fans give WAY too much cred to Jeff Tuel, when I haven't really seen him do anything since 2010. And on top of that our passing game was #9 in the country last year when he hardly played. I would attribute the strength of the WSU's offense to the reciever corp more than than the QB for at least the last two years. But Tuel (or Halliday) have a boat load of talent to chuck the ball to next year with Wilson back and a bunch of young talented recievers.
Price will have some issues next year too though. Price looses his two top best recievers (but keeps Austin S-J who looks like next level gold) and the runningback that kept the attention off his jersey all season (Polk), what is he going to do next year when defenses are keying in on him in the pocket and can he stay healthy? With Montana gone, UW is one nasty QB injurry away from having a complete meltdown on offense.
@UWJasonUW@Sutra Keith's issue, more so than the Dawgs chances at posting enough wins to make him a legit Heisman hopeful, is that you usually have to stay healthy for the entire season. I would be absolutely shocked if he makes it through the first half of that schedule without missing at least one game. Which could spell major trouble to the 2012 fortunes, as you would then be looking at Derrick Gray or whatever his name is.
@Sutra That's fine. I'll just chime in from time to time letting you know the objective view from my side of the mountains. Plus I'm stuck at home with nothing better to do.
@UWJasonUW READ THE ARTICLE. Got to win to get in. And whether I'm right or I'm wrong, I don't think that the Dawgs are going to win enough games next year. What's more, I am not sure that the UW system is conducive to Price having Heisman type numbers when YOU DON'T HAVE AN NFL RUNNING BACK SETTING UP PLAY ACTION.
And sure, Price looked AWESOME against medicore-to-poor competition, but I'd take Tuel over Price tomorrow. And, if he had a bit more game experience, I think I'd take Bennett over both of them.
But any way you cut it, Oregon figures to win. And you DON'T win the Heisman unless your team puts up W's.
@UWJasonUW Despite all the evidence you've provided, I still like our QB better.
So obviously Marquess Wilson is a glaring omission. Not even on the 1st list? Is it because he is now going to be in an offense where so many other receivers are going to get targeted? Tuel loves throwing him the rock and I think a Michael Crabtree year is in order for Mr. Wilson and I plan to be in attendance at the Downtown Athletic Club as he finishes runner-up to Black Mamba for the Heisman.
Yeah, its hard to imagine DAT finishing his career without the Heisman. He is a CLASSIC candidate playing on a hot team and he will fill up a highlight reel like nobody's bidnass. I don't know if there has ever been a team that I despise, but LOVE watching play like Oregon. they aren't going to miss a beat with Bennett. Dude is a nightmare.
As for Tuel, Even if he blows up in the Air Raid he will be playing from behind other candidates who started the year off as Heisman hopefuls. We know about him, but outside the Palouse I think Marquess Wilson is our identity on offense.
@Longball Obviously, we have to win a lot of games to see who could win this argument. But, barring injury, if Wilson has numbers its because Tuel has numbers. And, while its difficult to imagine Tuel having numbers without Wilson playing well, the fact of the matter is that Tuel can have GREAT numbers even with Wilson simply having a "good" year--or even a great year if his numbers don't rise above other WR's on the West Coast or elsewhere..
Again, I chose to go with the guy whose success is less conditional on the other...And that's Tuel...
@Sutra Im looking at the schedule and I don't see how we win less than 13 games, so I think they both will get a front row seat for the Mamba's Heisman.
@Longball 13 wins? It all depends on if we are forced to play Alabama twice, because the first beat down at their place wasn't enough to sway voters like Craig James.
@Longball Its early in the year to be channeling your inner Hooty McBoob, but any carnation of his essence is highly desired round here...
DeAnthony Thomas is like Reggie Bush was in college, except it seems to me as though this kid is connected to an IV of Red Bull. What I saw DAT, aka Black Mamba, do last year was absolutely f'ing unreal. I could seriously see him racking up 3500-4000 all purpose yards this season. His only threat is Kanjon Barner.
@LucasNurmi True Dat. I actually think that Barner makes him more than a threat as I see Kelly moving DT all over the place next year to cause additional havoc.
At first, I was a bit peeved that we got them early, figuring more time in Leach's system would give us a better chance. Now, I'm glad we're getting them early: I think this could be Oregon's best team yet. I really do.
My apologies to the three East Coast readers out there who woke up this morning to a post that had a broken comments field as well as a broken "jumperoo."
We had a bit of a Penguin problem late last night into today. Thankfully, we got the ACME crew to work and fixed this post....
Back to your regularly scheduled programming...