ACC Offseason Heisman Watch 2012 (April 24)

Clemson's Tajh Boyd Should Contend for a Heisman Trophy If He Improves Upon His Impressive 2011 Performance

Once per month this offseason, we’ll take a look at the ACC‘s top five contenders for college football’s highest honor: the Heisman Trophy. Sure there’s a very slim likelihood we’ll see an ACC player receive the award this year, but nothing wrong with dreaming.

ACC’s Top Five Heisman Contenders for 2012

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (Last Month: 1)

Through eight games last season, Boyd was among the nation’s best. Now that he has a full season under his belt, will he be able to keep it up for a full season? If he can, and manages to improve upon his impressive stat line from 2011, a Heisman trophy may not be the only thing experts are talking about come November and December. As Boyd excels, so will Clemson. The Tigers go as far as he can take them.

2. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (Last Month: 2)

As true as the above statements on Boyd may ring, however, one can’t forget how much his success can be linked to Watkins, either. As a receiver, a return-man and even a runner out of the backfield, the rising-sophomore can do it all, and even better, he’s driven to do the work to prove it. Away from the ball, Watkins draws double-teams, allowing the offense to open up for its other tools, too. Assessing the ACC’s Heisman field, if anyone can prevent Boyd from being the league’s top contender, it’s his number-one target, Watkins.

3. Mike Glennon, QB, NC State (Last Month: 3)

While the weight on Glennon’s shoulders may not be equivalent to that of Boyd, he’s still got a lot to prove in his senior season as the unquestioned leader of the Wolfpack (chuckle away!). His strong arm and quick decision-making in the clutch have become the type of stuff reputations and draft stock are built on, but can it also be the foundation of an ACC title campaign and/or darkhorse Heisman candidacy? He’ll need help, for sure, but it’s not out of the question. Continue reading

ACC Offseason Heisman Watch 2012 (March 26)

Receiver Sammy Watkins is One of Two Clemson Stars Eying Heisman Hopes in 2012

Once per month this offseason, we’ll take a look at the ACC‘s top five contenders for college football’s highest honor: the Heisman Trophy. Sure there’s a very slim likelihood we’ll see an ACC player receive the award this year, but nothing wrong with dreaming.

ACC’s Top Five Heisman Contenders for 2012

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (Last Month: 1)

If we’re to believe reports of rising-junior Boyd taking an active effort to improve his decision-making this offseason, this is a no-brainer. Just a simple step up in accuracy and a bit more poise under pressure could have dramatically changed results for the Tigers in 2011. If he puts it all together in 2012 and improves on last year’s stellar season, Boyd will be among the nation’s elite under center.

2. Sammy Watkins, WR/Clemson (Last Month: 2)

Similar to his teammate Boyd, Sammy Watkins has shown up to spring practice driven to improve upon his extremely successful 2011 campaign. And if you thought he’d already had an immense impact on Clemson’s scoring ability last year, just wait. Striving to become an even more dynamic weapon in 2012, Watkins now wants to handle punt return duty as well. Should he get the chance, the ACC’s fastest man could be adding yet another dimension to his already frightening skill set.

3. Mike Glennon, QB, NC State (Last Month: 4)

After a confidence-boosting 2011, Glennon looks poised to return even better in 2012. With heightened expectations and a manageable schedule, all eyes will be on the senior quarterback to lead this team to at least nine wins (if not more). If we’re basing future returns on how he ended last season (11 touchdown passes over the last three games), Glennon could very well have a record-setting season in Raleigh. Continue reading

ACC Offseason Heisman Watch 2012 (February 22)

Clemson's Tajh Boyd Is the ACC's Early Leading Heisman Candidate in 2012

Once per month this offseason, we’ll take a look at the ACC‘s top five contenders for college football’s highest honor: the Heisman Trophy. While we live in a reality which hasn’t seen an ACC Heisman-winner since Florida State‘s Chris Weinke in 2000, we’ll cling to the hope it can still happen in today’s SEC-centric landscape.

ACC’s Top Five Heisman Contenders for 2012

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson: Accounting for a league-high 38 total touchdowns in 2011, it’s easy to see why Boyd, now in his second full season as a starter, is bound of this top spot. As a player in the national Heisman race for the first half of last year, he showed poise beyond his years, but was derailed by the Tigers’ weak finish. Now with that experience in hand, and his main offensive weapons back, it’s hard to envision Boyd failing to better his stellar numbers in 2012. The keys will be accuracy and decisions under pressure, where he could use improvement from 2011.

2. Sammy Watkins, WR/Clemson: While Boyd was the unquestioned leader of the Tigers’ offense in 2011, it was Sammy Watkins’ electrifying play at receiver and in the return game that allowed for such a torrid pace early on. Just a freshman last year, Watkins is one of the fastest men in college football, and will once again be difficult to take down in the open field. With some time dissecting defenses in the offseason, we could be scared at what we witness from the sophomore bound for stardom.

3. Logan Thomas, QB/Virginia Tech: With the loss of David Wilson to the NFL Draft, the Hokies will rely largely on Logan Thomas’s play at quarterback if they hope to get back to the BCS this year. While the rising junior trailed Boyd in the major categories, he carried himself as even more of a duel threat than the former — with 19 passing scores and 11 rushing touchdowns. And his passing game still has plenty of room for improvement, and the hints that it, indeed, will. Thomas had many of his best games of 2011 toward the end, showing he’s getting more comfortable with the offense, as well as his role as the team leader going forward. Continue reading

ACC Heisman Watch (Week 15)

Baylor's Robert Griffin III Could Be the First Player In School History to Win the Heisman

Since Heisman finalists have been named for the 2011 season, we’ll skip right to the evaluation portion, looking at where we’d rank the five candidates.

1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (4,642 total yards/45 total TD/6 INT/72.4% completion): In thoroughly crushing rival Texas, Griffin managed another four touchdowns and over 350 total yards, adding to his growing legend status down in West Texas. Considered a darkhorse for all season, the way Baylor’s quarterback has performed these past few weeks might just deliver him the game’s biggest individual prize.

2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (3,170 passing yards/37 total TD/9 INT/70.0% completion): With a weak overall schedule, and watching other quarterbacks (Griffin, specifically) just plain putting up better numbers over the past month, Luck has finally lost his once-insurmountable lead in our rankings. Does it mean he’s played poorly of late? Of course not. And I doubt this award has any bearing on him going number-one overall in the NFL Draft either. He had his chance at a true “Heisman moment” (versus Oregon), but just couldn’t capitalize.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (2,014 total yards/38 total TD): Possessing a conference title, 15 more touchdowns and just one more loss than the “favored” running back below, Monte Ball would have won the Heisman in most seasons. Yet, since many only consider him the second-best RB in this group, he gets little consideration. Why? More yards-per-carry, more touchdowns, more yards, same amount of wins. It’s all because he doesn’t play in the SEC (a theme in college football of late).

4. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (1,910 total yards/23 total TD): Richardson is a talented back, don’t get me wrong. But he’s never had any business being in the same conversation as the three players I list above him. Alabama’s defense has been the biggest key to their success, and their lopsided victories allow for more garbage-time carries. Just because your team’s playing for the national title (with debatable credentials) doesn’t mean you deserve a Heisman finalist, as you’ll see below.

5. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU (475 total yards/4 total TD/2 INT): Yup, you read all of those stats right. While I don’t doubt the defensive prowess of the “Honey Badger,” I have to ask — what the hell is he doing on a Heisman ballot?! See above for my thoughts on this sham of a pick, but beyond my own opinions, can anyone say he put up one of the season’s five most impressive efforts? If Mathieu finishes any higher than fifth on ballots, I’d be floored.

ACC Heisman Watch (Week 14)

Montee Ball's Imrpessive Stat Line is Starting to Get Heisman Attention Again

As with all “Heisman Watches,” the one we’ll compile here at Atlantic Coast Convos isn’t about who’s having the best individual statistical season, but who’s experiencing the most combined individual and team success overall. So while player X may have 2,000 passing yards through five games, if his team’s 1-4, there’s no shot. With that in mind, let’s go to this week’s Heisman hopefuls — now viewed from a nationwide standpoint:

With no ACC player even near the Heisman Trophy conversation, let’s just get on to the nation’s top five candidates, in order:

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (3,170 passing yards/37 total TD/9 INT/70.0% completion): Say what you want about Stanford’s schedule (just one win over a ranked team — USC), but is it really their fault the Pac-12 isn’t up to par? Luck has performed admirably this season and is the main force behind the Cardinal’s 11-1 record. Even without an additional chance to prove himself in the Pac-12 title game, I still believe the Heisman belongs to Andrew Luck.

2. Case Keenum, QB, Houston (4,726 passing yards/46 total TD/3 INT/73.2% completion): Houston is blowing out opponents lately, but even in shortened action, Keenum has been incredibly impressive. With over 300 yards passing in every game this season, a 12-0 record, and a conference title and BCS berth on the line, it’ll be hard to ignore Keenum’s resume when the votes are finally tallied. Frighteningly, 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards are both within reach.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (1,870 total yards/34 total TD): If Montee Ball played for Alabama or LSU, he’d be the overwhelming favorite to win this award. Since Wisconsin has two losses in a down year for the Big Ten though, his 34 total touchdowns have gone virtually unrecognized on the national stage until his recent four-score performance against Penn State. As I’ve said before — I don’t care who you’re playing for. These numbers are impressive at any level, against any opponent.

4. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (1,910 total yards/23 total TD): Richardson rushed the ball extremely well against rival Auburn, racking up 203 yards on just 27 carries. What he’s lacked though is a real signature game against a worthy opponent. Still, his team is 11-1, plays in the SEC and their only loss was in overtime to the nation’s number-one school. Taking all of that into account, it’s not hard to see why he’s been moved to the top of several mock ballots, however debatable his credentials may be in comparison to his peers.

5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC (3,528 passing yards/41 total TD/7 INT/69.1% completion): Avoiding the “what if” game with Barkley’s chances and USC’s postseason ban, just examine his statistics on their own. The junior quarterback has accounted for 18 touchdowns in the past four games — a staggering total. He’s gotten more impressive and poised as the season’s progressed. He has dominated and embarrassed teams in recent games. And all for a team that had no chance to go anywhere at the end of this season. As the Trojans’ leader, he proved himself worthy of Heisman consideration and should get at least an invite to New York.

ACC Heisman Watch (Week 13)

RG3's Perofmance Saturday Has Him Moving Quickly Up Voters' Heisman Ballots

As with all “Heisman Watches,” the one we’ll compile here at Atlantic Coast Convos isn’t about who’s having the best individual statistical season, but who’s experiencing the most combined individual and team success overall. So while player X may have 2,000 passing yards through five games, if his team’s 1-4, there’s no shot. With that in mind, let’s go to this week’s Heisman hopefuls — now viewed from a nationwide standpoint:

With no ACC player even near the Heisman Trophy conversation, let’s just get on to the nation’s top five candidates, in order:

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (2,937 passing yards/33 total TD/8 INT/70.3% completion): Even amidst some really terrible weather this Saturday here in the Bay Area, Luck still managed over 250 yards and two touchdowns in the Big Game. Couple that with a slew of losses in the top 10 and suddenly, Stanford is once again a top-five team and their quarterback’s candidacy is starting to look like it’s a sure victory.

2. Case Keenum, QB, Houston (4,269 passing yards/42 total TD/3 INT/73.4% completion): Keenum only had two total touchdowns in a nationally televised victory over SMU — pedestrian by his standards, even accompanied by 318 yards passing. As long as the Cougars stay undefeated, the quarterback’s name will continue to climb these charts. If they happen to slip in either of their last two, however, the dream and Houston’s BCS hopes die in a hurry.

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (1,702 total yards/22 total TD): Considering how down I’ve been on Richardson’s candidacy, I was pleasantly surprised to see the running back put in a great effort on Saturday (even if it was against an FCS squad). For some voters (mainly in the southern part of the country), the Tide’s upcoming contest versus Auburn could very well decide who’s first on their Heisman ballot. If Richardson shows up, maybe he makes some believers out of enough of them to make it close.

4. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (4,022 total yards/38 total TD/5 INT/72.9% completion): If you watched any part of Griffin’s superb effort against Oklahoma on Saturday night, you know exactly why the junior has jumped to fourth on this list. In spite of the Bears’ three losses, RG3 has been a phenomenal leader and the main reason the team has a chance game-in and game-out. Outstanding performance, and vital to his team’s success? Sounds like a Heisman candidate to me.

5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (2,915 passing yards/35 TD/6 INT/73.8% completion): Once again, the Broncos’ defense fails to show up in the second half of a game, and once again it sullies an otherwise great performance by Moore. Yes, Boise still won by 17 this weekend, but considering their 28-point lead at half, the result left something to be desired. Still, even with recent defensive failings, Moore’s thrown for six touchdowns and nearly 700 yards in the past two games. And he lost one game by just one point. How has he fallen so far on most ballots?

ACC Heisman Watch (Week 12)

Why Not Case Keenum For Heisman?

As with all “Heisman Watches,” the one we’ll compile here at Atlantic Coast Convos isn’t about who’s having the best individual statistical season, but who’s experiencing the most combined individual and team success overall. So while player X may have 2,000 passing yards through five games, if his team’s 1-4, there’s no shot. With that in mind, let’s go to this week’s Heisman hopefuls — now viewed from a nationwide standpoint:

We’ll preface this week’s Heisman Watch by stating that in spite of his impressive numbers for a sophomore, Clemson‘s Tajh Boyd doesn’t have a realistic shot at winning the sport’s highest award. While it’s a shame that one loss has removed him and others from contention, no one would deny how impressive a season the young quarterback has had. A 9-1 record, 31 total touchdowns and well over 3,000 total yards will do that.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (2,695 passing yards/31 total TD/7 INT/70.6% completion): Even though Luck’s numbers are even with or below Boyd’s, he is still considered the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. While I’ve supported this notion all season, it’s miraculous how much one loss will damage your candidacy (or won’t, in the case of a certain Alabama running back on this list).

2. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State (3,635 passing yards/31 TD/9 INT/73.1% completion): If not for being a 28-year old playing against a bunch of kids, perhaps Weeden would get the nod here over Luck. In spite of that, I won’t deny the type of season he’s having, and the heights he’s led the Cowboys to (undefeated, and currently number two in all the polls). If OK State makes it to the BCS title game, you’ll have Weeden to thank (and possibly award the Heisman).

3. Case Keenum, QB, Houston (3,951 passing yards/39 total TD/3 INT/74.2% completion): Keenum threw for 325 yards on just 22 completions (and three quarters of action) last week. Enough said. If he played for any BCS school, he’d far-and-away be the favorite in this race, but between that lack of perceived pedigree and the “system” status of Houston’s offense, he’s not getting a ton of consideration. His only saving grace? A couple losses at the top and an undefeated season for his Cougars could vault him to the top.

4. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (1,523 total yards/19 total TD): Most pundits put Richardson as a close second to Luck — with some even putting him ahead. How is this possible? Yes, the Tide’s offense goes through Richardson’s run game, but plenty of other backs with just one more loss are having more impressive seasons. His presence here is only a nod to the fact that he will be among the finalists in New York (whether I like it or not).

5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (2,549 passing yards/31 TD/5 INT/74.1% completion): I watched the entire Broncos-TCU game on Saturday, and even I expected to see Moore’s stat line tell the tale of how Boise’s perfect season unraveled. Instead, I saw a pretty good game by a quarterback known for showing up on the big stage (28/38, 320 yards, 2 TD). Moore’s too classy to blame his defense getting carved up for the loss or his vanished candidacy on this list, but I’m happy to.