November 18, 2017

Seahawks 24, Redskins 14

The fourth and final game of wildcard weekend had the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Washington Redskins.  Of all the games, I was looking forward to this one the most.  It was the battle of rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson.  To be honest, of the rookies playing in this game, the one who impressed me the most this season was Redskin running back Alfred Morris.  The Redskins won the toss and elected to receive.

Starting at their 20, the Redskins got off to a good start with runs of eight and nine yards by Morris.  A nine-yard pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon and a three-yard run by Griffin moved the Redskins to midfield.  A 30-yard pass to Garcon and an 18-yard run by Morris made it first and goal from the three-yard line.  On third and goal from the four, Griffin fired a dart to running back Even Royster for a Redskin touchdown.  Kicker Kai Forbath made the extra point and the Redskins went up 7-0 with ten minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Seahawks went nowhere on their first drive and punted.  The Redskins took over at their 46 and on third and three from the Seahawk 47, Griffin faced some pressure, but managed to complete a ten-yard pass to wide receiver Santana Moss.  A neutral zone infraction on the Seahawks and an eight-yard run by Griffin gave the Redskins another first down at the 24.  Tight end Logan Paulsen caught a 15-yard pass on third and one and the Redskins were knocking on the door again.  They found themselves in another third and goal situation from the four.  This time, they had the same result as their previous drive.  Griffin had loads of time and hit Paulsen in the end zone for another Redskin touchdown.  Forbath made the point after and the Redskins went up 14-0 with a little over two minutes to go in the first quarter.  Long after Griffin got rid of the ball, he was knocked down by defensive end Bruce Irvin and he was flagged for unnecessary roughness.  After that hit, Griffin left the field, but would return shortly.

The Seahawks started at their 20 and a 12-yard completion to tight end Zach Miller on third and 12 got them a first down at the 30.  A short run by running back Marshawn Lynch, a 19-yard scramble by Wilson and a nine-yard pass to Lynch moved the Seahawks into Redskin territory.  On first down from the 39, Wilson put up a floater and wide receiver Sidney Rice did a great job of catching it and keeping both feet in bounds for a gain of 27.  But a delay of game penalty and three incomplete passes stalled the drive at the 14.  Kicker Steven Hauschka  was brought in to try a 32-yard field goal.  The kick was good and that made it 14-3 with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.

After giving up two early touchdowns, the Seahawk defense made some adjustments and really started bringing the pressure and forced the Redskins to punt.  The punt was fair caught by return man Leon Washington at the Seahawk 27.  Two runs by Lynch and an offside penalty on the Redskins moved the ball to the 45.  On first and five from the 45, Wilson fumbled, but the ball was picked up by Lynch and he took it down to the Redskin 36.  On second down from the 35, Wilson threw a screen to fullback Michael Robinson for a gain of 19 yards.  An 11-yard run by Wilson made it first and goal from the five.  On second and goal from the four, Wilson tossed the ball to his left and it was caught by Robinson for a Seahawk touchdown.  Hauschka made the extra point and the Seahawks closed the gap to 14-10 with just under five minutes to go in the second quarter.  Hauschka injured his calf on the point after attempt and punter Jon Ryan kicked the ball off.

The next “drive” for the Redskins ended abruptly.  On second and seven from the 29, Griffin threw a deep ball into double coverage intended for Garcon.  The ball was picked off by safety Earl Thomas.  He was brought down at the Seahawk 26 and with 3:36 remaining in the first half, Wilson went to work.  On third and five from the 31, he completed a six-yard pass to wide receiver Doug Baldwin.  On the next play, he hooked up with Baldwin again.  This pass went for 33 yards and he was brought down at the Redskin 30.  Two more runs by Lynch netted 11 yards and another first down at the 19.  On fourth and two from the 11, Hauschka limped onto the field and nailed a 29-yard field goal to end the half.  At halftime, the Redskins led 14-13.

The Seahawks picked up right where they left off on their first drive of the second half.  Lynch, Robinson and rookie running back Robert Turbin moved the Seahawks from their 30 to the Redskin 32.  A 15-yard pass to wide receiver Golden Tate and a 15-yard run straight up the middle by Lynch put the ball at the two-yard line.  On second down from the one, Lynch got the call again and defensive tackle Barry Cofield put his helmet right on the ball.  It came loose and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins came up with the fumble recovery.

The Redskins took over at their three and managed to move the ball to the 26 before punting.  On this drive, defensive end Chris Clemons was injured and it has been reported he has a torn ACL.  He will miss the rest of the playoffs.  The Seahawks got down to the Redskin 28, but on third and eight, Wilson was sacked for a loss of nine by cornerback Josh Wilson.  That took them out of field goal range and they punted.  The Redskins were flagged for holding on the return and they started from their own six-yard line.  As the game went on, it was becoming more and more evident that Griffin was playing in excruciating pain.  From the six, Griffin was sacked for a loss of four by defensive tackle Alan Branch.  He managed to complete a pass to Garcon on third and 14, but he was brought down short of the first down marker.  Redskin punter Sav Rocca came on and hit a nice 53-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Seahawk 37.  The Redskin defense did a good job and forced another punt.

A limping Robert Griffin led his team onto the field in hopes of putting some more points on the board.  On first down from their 22, Griffin took the snap and “ran” up the left side for a gain of nine yards.  That play call totally boggled my mind.  You have perfectly good running backs who could do the same thing.  After the play was over, Griffin limped back to the huddle.  Morris got the call on the next play and gained five yards for a first down at the 36.  They would only gain three more yards and Rocca punted the ball away again.  Washington fielded it at the eight and returned it to the 21.

A seven-yard pass to Tate and an 18-yard run by Lynch moved the Seahawks to midfield.  On third and ten, Miller made a nice catch and run for a gain of 22.  He was finally dragged down at the Redskin 32.  On third and five from the 27, Lynch reminded everyone why he is known as “The Beast.”  He ran up the right side for a 27-yard Seahawk touchdown.  Wilson completed the two-point conversion with a pass to Miller and the Seahawks now had a 21-14 lead with seven minutes to go in the game.

I really thought I’d see backup quarterback Kirk Cousins come into the game for the Redskins.  I was wrong.  Griffin remained at quarterback and on first down from the 24, he was sacked for a loss of 12 by Irvin.  On second and 22, it got even worse for Griffin.  A bad snap sent the ball bouncing crazily toward him.  There was a big pileup at the five-yard line and the Seahawks came away with the ball.  Griffin stayed down for several minutes as trainers worked on him.  He managed to get to his feet and walk off the field, but that was the last we’d see of him.  The Seahawks took over at the five and gained a grand total of one yard.  Hauschka made the 22-yard field goal and the Seahawks upped the lead to 24-14 with five and a half minutes to go in the game.

The Redskins got the ball back at their 18 and Cousins found wide receiver Leonard Hankerson for gains of 15 and 12 yards.  Another bad snap was picked up by Cousins and he was thrown for a loss of four yards.  After that, Cousins threw three straight incomplete passes and turned the ball over to the Seahawks with 4:16 to go in the game.  Lynch and Turbin split some carries and they ended up punting the ball back to the Redskins with a minute to go.  Cousins threw four incomplete passes and that’s how the game would end.  Final score: Seahawks 24 Redskins 14.

For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 15 of 26 for 187 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.  He also had 67 yards rushing on eight carries.  Tight end Zach Miller led the team in receptions with four and in receiving yards with 48.  Marshawn Lynch led the ground game with 132 yards on 20 carries, one touchdown and one lost fumble.  As a team, the Seahawks had a total of 224 yards on 37 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks in solo tackles with five and had one tackle for a loss.

For the Redskins, Robert Griffin completed 10 of 19 for 84 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  He also had 21 yards rushing on five carries.  Kirk Cousins didn’t do much better as he completed three of ten for 31 yards.  Pierre Garcon was the leader in receptions with four and receiving yards with 50.  Alfred Morris led the ground game with 80 yards on 16 carries.  In my opinion, he didn’t get enough carries in this game.  As a team, the Redskins ran for a total of 104 yards on 23 carries.  Defensively, safety Reed Doughty led the Redskins in sacks with two and the most solo tackles with seven.  He also had two tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.  All totaled, the Redskins sacked Wilson five times.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is being heavily criticized for leaving Griffin in the game too long.  Griffin entered the game with a knee brace and was obviously not anywhere near 100 percent.  Yet, Shanahan left him out there despite the fact that he was in obvious pain.  That’s nothing new for Shanahan.  When he was in Denver, quarterback Brian Griese had a badly injured shoulder and Shanahan didn’t take him out.  There’s also a sound byte from Super Bowl 32 where he asked running back Terrell Davis if he was feeling okay.  Davis replied “I can’t see.  I’ve got another one of my headaches.”  Shanahan said “Well I need you to get back in there for the next play.  We’re going to fake it to you.”  Davis ended up being okay and was named the MVP of that game.  But what the hell are you doing putting a blind running back into a game?

The playoffs continue next week with Baltimore at Denver on Saturday at 4:30 eastern time followed by Green Bay at San Francisco at 7:30.  Sunday’s games will feature Seattle at Atlanta at 1:00 and Houston at New England  at 4:30.  Those are definitely some interesting match-ups!  Until then, take it easy.

 

Leatherheads Heisman Poll for 2012

Tonight, the 78th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on ESPN with three finalists waiting in the audience.  The three finalists are Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M quaterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o.

In anticipation of tonight’s announcement, Leatherheads of the Gridiron polled 18 of its contributors to see who we think will be the next name added to the elite list of college football greats who can say they are a Heisman Trophy recipient.  Our voters followed the same format as the Heisman voters: 3 points for our number one choice, 2 for our second choice and 3 for our third choice.  Last season, Leatherheads had a tie for the award with both Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Alabama’s Trent Richardson finishing first, although RG3 had more first place votes.  RG3 ended up winning the trophy while Stanford’s Andrew Luck was second and Richardson finishing in third place.  Click here for results.

We had 18 voters allocate their votes to ten different players.  A few names missing that have been mentioned as possible winners at the beginning of the season and along the way include USC QB Matt Barkley, Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor, Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas and Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson.  Also missing is LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu who finished fifth in the voting last year and was dismissed from the team before the season for his drug use.  A sad story.  Hopefully, he can turn his life around and make it in the NFL in some capacity.

Our candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:

Montee Ball
Ball is a running back for the 8-5, Rose Bowl-bound Wisconsin Badgers.  The senior is ranked third in rushing with 1,730 yards and is tied for eighth with 21 touchdowns.  Last year he finished fourth in the Heisman voting.  Over the last two seasons, he has rushed for 3,653 yards and scored an amazing 60 touchdowns.

Kenjon Barner
Barner is a running back for Oregon.  The Ducks are 11-1 and heading to play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Barner ranks seventh in rushing with 1,624 yards and is tied for fourth with 22 touchdowns.  The senior rushed for 321 yards and five TDs on November 3 against the USC Trojans.

Jarvis Jones
Jones is a linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs are 11-2 and will be playing in the Capital One Bowl.   The junior is the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-American.  His 12.5 sacks are tied for fourth in the nation.

Collin Klein
Klein is the quarterback for the 11-1 Kansas State Wildcats and will be playing against Barner and his Ducks teammates in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Klein, a senior, led the Wildcats to 10-straight victories before losing to Baylor on November 17.  He has scored 22 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the nation.  Over the last two seasons, the former wide receiver has passed for 4,408 yards and 28 TDs with 13 INTs while rushing for 2,031 yards and 49 TDs.

Marqise Lee
Lee is a wide receiver for the USC Trojans.  The sophomore leads the nation with 112 receptions, is second with 1,680 yards, and ranks third in TD catches with 14.  He has also returned 28 kickoffs for 802 yards and a score.  In two seasons, Lee has 185 catches for 2,823 yards and 25 scores.

Jordan Lynch
Lynch is a junior quarterback for Northern Illionois.  He has led the 12-1 Huskies to the Orange Bowl.  He leads the nation in rushing with 1,771 yards, a record for FBS quarterbacks.  He has thrown for 2,942 yards with 24 TDs and just 5 INTs.  He also has 19 rushing touchdowns.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel is a freshman quarterback for the 10-2, Cotton Bowl-bound Texas A&M Aggies.  Johnny Football, as he is called, gained national promience when he led his team to a 29-24 victory over #1 ranked Alabama.  Manziel has passed for 3,419 yards, 24 TDs with 8 INTs while running for 1,181 yards and 19 TDs.

Braxton Miller
Miller is the quarterback for the 12-0 Ohio State Buckeyes and the Big Ten Player of the Year. The Buckeyes were not eligible for the Big Ten championship or a bowl game this season while on probation for past NCAA violations. The sophomore rushed for 1,271 yards with 13 TDs while passing for 2,039 yards and 15 TDs.

Geno Smith
Smith is the quarterback for West Virginia.  The senior is ranked first with 40 passes for touchdowns, fourth with 4,004 passing yards, and sixth with a 164.6 QB rating.  On September 29 against Baylor, he threw for 656 yards and 8 TDs.  Over the last two seasons, he has thrown for 8,389 yards with 71 TDs and just 13 INTs.  The 7-5 Mountaineers will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Manti Te’o
Te’o is the middle linebacker for the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  The senior is tied for second in the nation with 7 interceptions and has made 101 tackles this season.  He has already won several awards this season, including the Maxwell Award.  He will play in the BCS National Championship Game, hoping to lead his team to a 13-0 record and a national championship.

Rank Player First Second Third Total
   1 Johnny Manziel 27 (9)   6 (3)   5 (5)   38
   2 Manti Te’o 21 (7) 12 (6) 3.5 (3.5)   36.5
   3 Collin Klein   6 (2) 10 (5)   5 (5)   21
   4 Braxton Miller   0 (0)   4 (2)   0 (0)     4
   5 (Tie) Montee Ball   0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
   5 (Tie) Jordan Lynch   0 (0)   0 (0)   2 (2)     2
   5 (Tie) Geno Smith   0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
   8 (Tie) Kenjon Barner   0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
   8 (Tie) Marqise Lee   0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
 10 Jarvis Jones   0 (0)   0 (0)   .5 (.5)      .5

 

So the winner of our poll is Johnny Football, the freshman.  A few of our voters could not vote for him in the number one spot just because he is a freshman.  One Leatherhead stated, “Sorry I do not feel Manziel is worthy of the trophy being only a freshman, let us see what he can do next year.”  I disagree with that thinking since the play is based on this season.  I personally picked Manziel number one, largely for his play in the SEC which is clearly, in my mind and many others, the top conference in college football.

Another Leatherhead would disagree with me making Manziel my top choice, “If raw statistics alone is your game, he’s your winner.  But if you actually take a closer look….he piled up great numbers against some terrible defensive teams. How did he do in the big games?  He completely failed to drive the offense in the second half of A&M’s loss to Florida, and threw 3 interceptions and was held to 27 yards rushing in the loss to LSU.  So that leaves the Alabama game – you’re voting a freshman the Heisman on the basis of one game.  Which means, in his college career, he has as many arrests as big-game victories.”  Ouch!

The arrest refers to an incident last summer when he got in a fight and produced fake identification to a police officer.  Should this count against his chance of winning the Heisman?  I personally do not since it has nothing to do with play on the field.  But it might.  Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans did for that reason.  He stated, “I don’t consider players with pending criminal charges.”

Enough about Manziel.  Leatherhead Tex Noel stated about Klein, “He’s an exciting player to watch. He thinks well on his feet as he eludes the defender or diving into the end zone. His passes are straight and on the mark. Without a doubt, Kansas State would not be the same without him.”

Tex has some good words for Te’o fans as well, “One of the best players the Irish have had in some time. He’s fearless as he makes plays sideline-to-sideline. You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him–maybe with a brick wall.”

So the top three finalists are the Leatherheads’ top three.  Early in the season I thought it would be Geno Smith, hands down.  Then the Mountaineers couldn’t stop losing.

I most note that one voter could not pick between Te’o and Jones with their third-place vote.  He declared it a tie and I let it go since no harm was done.  He stated, “I know, it’s a cop-out to do a tie but I can’t separate the two. Te’o is on a higher profile team and rightfully deserves his accolades, but Jones is every bit as special and actually runs sideline to sideline better.”

This is the word from Leatherheads of the Gridiron.  Johnny Football will add his name to the elite list of Heisman Trophy winners.  Will that actually happen?  We will all find out shortly.  Either way, all three finalists had a special season.

 

Participating voters: David Boyce, Bo Carter, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob LazzariJim Lefebvre, Chris Mascaro, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Michelle Nolan, Pete Sonski, Bob Stevenson, Bob Swick, Dan Totten, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

(Sort Of A) Draft Preview: Luck First, Bears Whenever, And a Draft Quiz

The Indianapolis Colts officially announced on Tuesday that they will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the NFL draft.

In other breaking news, Mitt Romney is going to win the GOP nomination, Carson Daly has no talent and Amelia Earhart won’t be home for dinner.

Luck is the smart pick, the safe pick and something of a kismet gift or karmic certainty for a team whose logo is a horseshoe that’s turned up so, as tradition says, the “luck won’t run out.”  Luck will do well in Indianapolis just so long as he wasn’t planning on getting help from Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, Pierre Garcon, Joseph Addai, Raymond Berry or Weeb Ewbank.

But will Luck be better than Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winning QB from Baylor who will be taken second by the Washington Redskins?  At first, yes.  In the long run…yes.  Griffin is good but Luck is the type of guy who wins in the NFL for the long term because he’s such a good pocket passer.  Also, the Redskins do very little right and, despite last year’s Indy imbroglio, the Colts seem to know what they’re doing.

Luck and Griffin will face each other in the third week of the exhibition season in Washington but Luck’s first regular season action will come September 9 against the Bears at Chicago’s Soldier Field.  It’s the belief in some circles, and the hope in others, that one of the Bears Mr. Luck will have to contend with on that day is defensive end Chandler Jones who spent his collegiate days busting heads for Syracuse.

The Bears could select Jones with the 19th overall pick in the first round as they look to add some youth to their defense which has an average age of 62.7.  The Bears haven’t taken a defensive player in the first round since defensive tackle Tommie Harris in 2004 in part because they often haven’t had a first round pick because of trades (two of them sacrificed for QB Jay Cutler) and also because Chicago has spent the last decade or so relying on linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman.  But those gentlemen, despite all being selected to the Pro Bowl last year, are old.  So is defensive end Julius Peppers who is the Bears’ best player but is now 32 and looking more like Alan Page than Jason Pierre-Paul.

The Bears also are likely to get defensive with their first pick because they’ve already spent much of this offseason focusing on offense having traded for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and signing quarterback Jason Campbell, running back Michael Bush, receiver/returner Eric Weems and receiver/special teamer Devin Thomas.  The Monsters of the Milky Way have also brought in several defensive free agents including former Buccaneers linebacker Geno Hayes but the feeling is that when it comes to college kids, new GM Phil Emery wants to bolster the defense.

Then again, anyone who watches football and believes in the sanctity of human life knows the Bears offensive line protects about as well as a pierced condom having surrendered 105 sacks the last two seasons.  The fact that Jay Cutler is still alive, ambulatory and willing to come back for more is a testament to that young man’s toughness, tenacity and ability to read the numbers on his $7.7 million annual salary.

If Cutler is healthy this season and Marshall stays out of trouble, running back Matt Forte settles his contract dispute and Bush lives up to his billing Chicago could suddenly have a potent offense that can strike quickly but also grind it out and eat the clock.  But only if they five big fellas up front can open holes and get in defenders’ ways as they try to go all-Gregg Williams and rip off Cutler’s leg and chase Kristin Cavallari with it.

Cutler’s chances for survival, and Chicago’s potential for success, already seem to be improved by Mike Tice’s promotion from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator, replacing the mad genius Mike Martz who was sort of like Nero and Cutler was a lot like Rome.  Under Tice, the Bears will almost certainly concentrate on keeping the quarterback alive first and coming up with fancy crossing patterns second.  And if last year’s first round pick, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, comes back from the knee injury that knocked him out for nearly all of 2011 and former first-rounder Chris Williams can return from the wrist injury that saw him miss last season’s final seven games, maybe the O-line already is taking a step toward solvency and salvation.

Still, when you’re the Chicago Bears you like big uglies, especially from Midwest teams.  So if Wisconsin center Peter Konz or his Badgers teammate, guard Kevin Zeitler, or Michigan center David Molk are around don’t be surprised to see them get the call from Halas Hall.

No matter whom the Bears draft it seems a tall order for them to significantly close the gap on their division rival Green Bay Packers.  The Super Bowl champion New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and maybe even the New Orleans Miscreants also appear to be ahead of the Bears at this point, but there’s hope.  If Chicago’s defense can keep its foot on father time’s throat for one more season and the offense learns to block first and ask questions later , the Bears could go a long way toward earning the NFL-maximum five prime-time games they’re slated for this fall.

Quick Quiz: (no cheating! Answers below)

1.) Who was the top pick in last year’s draft?

2.) Who was last year’s “Mr. Irrelevant?”

3.) Who was the top pick in the 2002 draft?

4.) Who was the top pick in the 1992 draft?

5.) Who was the 199th overall pick in the 2000 draft?

6.) Peyton Manning was the top overall pick in 1998, Ryan Leaf was second.  Who was third?

7.) Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Steve Spurrier was taken with the third overall pick in the 1967 draft.  What future Hall of Fame QB was taken fourth?

8.) What running back who wore #20 was taken with the top overall pick in the draft by the Detroit Lions in the 1980s?

9.) How many receivers were taken before Randy Moss in the 1998 NFL draft?

10.) What two players with the same last name were taken 1-2 in the 2008 draft?

(Answers below)

Random Thoughts:

Is Gregg Williams friends with Metta World Peace?

The Colts not only have the first overall pick in the draft but also have the last pick, 253, with which “Mr. Irrelevant” will be taken.

Center Stu Clarkson was taken by the Bears with the very last pick of the 1942 NFL draft and not only went on to play for their 1946 NFL Championship team but he was also a decorated hero in World War Two.

ANSWERS TO QUIZ QUESTIONS:

  1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  2. Defensive End Cheta Ozougwu of Rice who was taken with the 254th pick by the Houston Texans.
  3. David Carr, Houston Texans
  4. Steve Emtman, Indianapolis Colts
  5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  6. Andre Wadsworth, Arizona Cardinals
  7. Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins
  8. Billy Sims, 1980 (Barry Sanders was taken third overall in 1989)
  9. One.  The Oilers took Kevin Dyson with the 16th overall pick.  Moss went 21st to the Vikings.
  10.  Jake Long, Dolphins, then Chris Long, Rams.

 

Remember RG3…in the Valero Alamo Bowl!

Throughout its 143-year history, college football has showcased many outstanding players—long to be remembered for various accomplishments, including spectacular plays, leading a team to a national championship or for winning one of college football’s annual awards.

Of all the hardware that has been awarded, one brings back memories of the previous winners simply by mentioning its name.

This award is the Heisman Trophy, awarded since 1935.

Like with life itself, many surprises have been associated with this award.

It has been said that a player who wins the award often wins as a result of an outstanding season and from the backing of a poet (writer) in the press box.

Some schools present a full-blown ad campaign similar to a person running for political office while others let their players’ accomplishments speak for themselves.

The majority of the players winning this award came from winning teams. One player won from a school that finished the season with an equal amount of wins and losses (Jay Berwanger, the first recipient of the award). Another player won from a sub-.500 team: Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in 1956. His team finished 2-8-0.

A complete breakdown of each season since 1935 shows that 25 winners never participated in the postseason—including 19 of the first 22 honorees.

Since 1970, Houston’s Andre Ware, the 1989 awardee, is the only Heisman winner not to play in a postseason game.

Of the remaining 52 former winners, 43 have gone on to play in a bowl game that would be considered—in today’s terms—a “BCS Bowl Game.”

 

"BCS Bowls"       Games      W-L
Orange              10       7-3
Rose                11       6-5
Cotton               7       4-3
Sugar                8       3-5
BCS Title Game       4       2-2
Fiesta               3       1-2

 

Baylor’s Robert Griffin III was selected as the 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner. Not only was he chosen to be the first winner from Baylor, but his selection also broke a string of two consecutive winners that would lead his team to the National Championship.

Davey O’Brien was the first Heisman Trophy winner to lead his team to the National Championship. There have been 15 in total.

 

Year     Winner              Team
1938     Davey O'Brien       Texas Christian
1941     Bruce Smith         Minnesota
1943     Angelo Bertelli     Notre Dame
1945     Doc Blanchard       Army
1947     Johnny Lujack       Notre Dame
1949     Leon Hart           Notre Dame
1976     Tony Dorsett        Pittsburgh
1986     Vinny Testaverde    Miami
1993     Charlie Ward        Florida State
1996     Danny Wuerffel      Florida
1997     Charles Woodson     Michigan
2004     Matt Leinart        USC
2005     Reggie Bush*        USC
2009     Mark Ingram         Alabama
2010     Cam Newton          Auburn
 
*Heisman Trophy later vacated

 

RG3 became the ninth winner of this prestigious award to play in what can be classified as “Non-BCS Bowl Game.” Griffin led the Bears to the Alamo Bowl; the first time a Heisman winner would play in this game.

 

"Non-BCS Bowls"   Games      W-L
Liberty              2       2-0
Alamo                1       1-0
Holiday              2       1-1
Capital One          1       0-1
Citrus               1       0-1
Gator                2       0-2

 

Let’s take a closer look at the nine players who won college football’s most prestigious award, but did not showcase their abilities on the stage of a “BCS Bowl Game.”

Interestingly, the first two Heisman Trophy winners to play in a “Non-BCS Bowl Game” came in back-to-back seasons (1961-62), but then not again until the 1988 season; a year when college football would see many of its records fall as Barry Sanders established many standards.

 

Heisman Trophy Winners that played in and won a “Non-BCS Bowl Game”:

  • 1961 Ernie Davis, Syracuse, Liberty (30-140/rushing)
  • 1962 Terry Baker, Oregon State, Liberty (9-21, 123/passing)
  • 1988 Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, Holiday (29-222/rushing)
  • 2011 Robert Griffin III, Baylor, Alamo (24-33, 295/passing)

Heisman Trophy Winners that played in and lost a “Non-BCS Bowl Game”:

  • 1957 John David Crow, Texas A&M, Gator (14-46/rushing)
  • 1980 George Rogers, South Carolina, Gator (27-113/rushing)
  • 1990 Ty Detmer, BYU, Holiday (11-23, 120/passing)
  • 1995 Eddie George, Ohio State, Citrus (25-101/rushing)
  • 2007 Tim Tebow, Florida, Capital One (17-33, 154/passing)

 

In a couple of these “Non-BCS Bowl Games” that the Heisman winner would play in, their teams displayed offensive fireworks that lit up the scoreboard.

Capping his last year in Stillwater, Barry Sanders found the end zone five times in leading his team to a 62-14 wipe out of Wyoming.

In the most recent such game, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III would only score twice, but would orchestrate many of the Bears many comebacks in its match-up with Washington, winning 67-53. This would be highest scoring game in bowl history for a game played in regulation.

 

Here is a summary of the Heisman Trophy winners in the postseason:

 

Year Winner           Team             Bowl        Opponent        D   Score
1935 Jay Berwanger    Chicago          None
1936 Larry Kelley     Yale             None
1937 Clint Frank      Yale             None
1938 Davey O'Brien    Texas Christian  Sugar       Carnegie Tech   W    15-7
1939 Nile Kinnick     Iowa             None
1940 Tom Harmon       Michigan         None
1941 Bruce Smith      Minnesota        None
1942 Frank Sinkwich   Georgia          Rose        UCLA            W     9-0
1943 Angelo Bertelli  Notre Dame       None
1944 Les Horvath      Ohio State       None
1945 Doc Blanchard    Army             None
1946 Glenn Davis      Army             None
1947 Johnny Lujack    Notre Dame       None
1948 Doak Walker      SMU              Cotton      Oregon          W   21-13
1949 Leon Hart        Notre Dame       None
1950 Vic Janowicz     Ohio State       None
1951 Dick Kazmaier    Princeton        None
1952 Billy Vessels    Oklahoma         None
1953 Johnny Lattner   Notre Dame       None
1954 Alan Ameche      Wisconsin        None
1955 Howard Cassady   Ohio State       None
1956 Paul Hornung     Notre Dame       None
1957 John David Crow  Texas A&M        Gator       Tennessee       L     0-3
1958 Pete Dawkins     Army             None
1959 Billy Cannon     LSU              Sugar       Ole Miss        L    0-21
1960 Joe Bellino      Navy             Orange      Missouri        L   14-21
1961 Ernie Davis      Syracuse         Liberty     Miami           W   15-14
1962 Terry Baker      Oregon State     Liberty     Villanova       W     6-0
1963 Roger Staubach   Navy             Cotton      Texas           L    6-28
1964 John Huarte      Notre Dame       None
1965 Mike Garrett     USC              None
1966 Steve Spurrier   Florida          Orange      Georgia Tech    W   27-12
1967 Gary Beban       UCLA             None
1968 O.J. Simpson     USC              Rose        Ohio State      L   16-27
1969 Steve Owens      Oklahoma         None
1970 Jim Plunkett     Stanford         Rose        Ohio State      W   27-17
1971 Pat Sullivan     Auburn           Sugar       Oklahoma        L   22-40
1972 Johnny Rodgers   Nebraska         Orange      Notre Dame      W    40-6
1973 John Cappelletti Penn State       Orange      LSU             W    16-9
1974 Archie Griffin   Ohio State       Rose        USC             L   17-18
1975 Archie Griffin   Ohio State       Rose        UCLA            L   10-23
1976 Tony Dorsett     Pittsburgh       Sugar       Georgia         W    27-3
1977 Earl Campbell    Texas            Cotton      Notre Dame      L   38-10
1978 Billy Sims       Oklahoma         Orange      Nebraska        W   31-24
1979 Charles White    USC              Rose        Ohio State      W   17-16
1980 George Rogers    South Carolina   Gator       Pittsburgh      L    9-37
1981 Marcus Allen     USC              Fiesta      Penn State      L   10-26
1982 Herschel Walker  Georgia          Sugar       Penn State      L   23-27
1983 Mike Rozier      Nebraska         Orange      Miami           L   30-31
1984 Doug Flutie      Boston College   Cotton      Houston         W   45-28
1985 Bo Jackson       Auburn           Cotton      Texas A&M       L   16-36
1986 Vinny Testaverde Miami            Fiesta      Penn State      L   10-14
1987 Tim Brown        Notre Dame       Cotton      Texas A&M       L   10-35
1988 Barry Sanders    Oklahoma State   Holiday     Wyoming         W   62-14
1989 Andre Ware       Houston          None
1990 Ty Detmer        Brigham Young    Holiday     Texas A&M       L   14-65
1991 Desmond Howard   Michigan         Rose        Washington      L   14-34
1992 Gino Torretta    Miami            Sugar       Alabama         L   13-34
1993 Charlie Ward     Florida State    Orange      Nebraska        W   18-16
1994 Rashaan Salaam   Colorado         Fiesta      Notre Dame      W   41-24
1995 Eddie George     Ohio State       Citrus      Tennessee       L   14-20
1996 Danny Wuerffel   Florida          Sugar       Florida State   W   52-20
1997 Charles Woodson  Michigan         Rose        Washington St.  W   21-16
1998 Ricky Williams   Texas            Cotton      Mississippi St. W   38-11
1999 Ron Dayne        Wisconsin        Rose        Stanford        W    17-9
2000 Chris Weinke     Florida State    Orange      Oklahoma        L    2-13
2001 Eric Crouch      Nebraska         Rose        Miami           L   14-37
2002 Carson Palmer    USC              Orange      Iowa            W   38-17
2003 Jason White      Oklahoma         Sugar       LSU             L   14-21
2004 Matt Leinart     USC              Orange      Oklahoma        W   55-19
2005 Reggie Bush      USC              Rose        Texas           L   38-41
2006 Troy Smith       Ohio State       BCS Title   Florida         L   14-41
2007 Tim Tebow        Florida          Capital One Michigan        L   35-41
2008 Sam Bradford     Oklahoma         BCS Title   Florida         L   14-24
2009 Mark Ingram      Alabama          BCS Title   Texas           W   37-21
2010 Cam Newton       Auburn           BCS Title   Oregon          W   22-19
2011 Robert Griffin   Baylor           Alamo       Washington      W   67-53

 

Leatherheads Heisman Poll

Tonight the 77th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on ESPN with five finalists waiting in the audience.  The five finalists are Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

In anticipation of College Football’s most prestigious award, we here at Leatherheads of the Gridiron took it upon ourselves to pick who we think should be the Heisman winner. Our voters followed the same format as the Heisman voters: 3 points for our number one choice, 2 for our second choice and 3 for our third choice.

We had ten voters allocate their votes to nine different players.  Absent from receiving any votes is Tyrann Mathieu, the winner of this year’s Bednarik Award.  The Heisman has been given to a primarily offensive player each year except 1997 when Michigan cornerback and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Woodson won.  Sorry Tyrann, we do not believe you will win the award.

Our candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:

Montee Ball
Ball is a running back for the 11-2, Rose Bowl-bound University of Wisconsin Badgers.  A junior, Ball has so far this season led the nation in total rushing yards with 1,759 and rushing touchdowns with 32.  He has also caught 20 passes with 6 receiving touchdowns.  His 230 points scored also leads the nation, 74 points more than the number two scorer Collin Klein of Kansas State.

Matt Barkley
Barkley is the quarterback for the USC Trojans.  The junior has led them to a 10-2 record and currently ranks eighth in QB rating (161.2) with 3,528 yards, a 69.1 completion percentage and 39 touchdowns (third in the nation) versus just 7 interceptions. USC is bowl ineligible so his season is complete.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin, also known as RG3, is the quarterback for the 9-3 Baylor Bears.  Griffin, a junior, leads the nation in QB rating with an impressive 192.3 rating.  He is fifth in the nation with a 72.4 completion percentage, sixth in passing yards with 3,998, fourth in TD passes with 36 while just tossing 6 interceptions.  He leads the nation in yards per passing attempt at 10.8 and has also rushed for 644 yards and 9 TDs.

LaMichael James
James is a running back for the 11-2, Rose Bowl-bound Oregon Ducks. The junior is currently fourth in the nation with 1,646 rushing yards and tied for ninth with 17 rushing touchdowns.  He has also caught 17 balls for 210 yards with a TD and has returned 14 punts, including a 58-yard touchdown against Nevada.

Case Keenum
Keenum is the throwing machine for the 12-1, Ticket City Bowl-bound Houston Cougars.  The redshirt senior QB leads the nation in passing yards with 5,099 and passing TDs with 45.  He ranks sixth with a 71.7 completion percentage, third in yards per passing attempt with 9.5 and is third in QB rating at 177.9 while throwing just 5 interceptions.

Andrew Luck
Luck is the red-shirt junior quarterback for the 11-1, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl-bound Stanford Cardinal. Luck, the 2011 Camp, Maxwell and Unitas Awards winner, has thrown for 3,170 yards with the ninth best completion percentage (70.0), fifth most passing TDs (35) and the fifth best QB rating (167.5).  He was the Heisman runner-up last season, losing out to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.

Kellen Moore
Moore is the quarterback of the 11-1, MAACO Bowl-bound Boise State Broncos. The redshirt senior has thrown for 3,507 yards and is second in the nation with 41 TD passes.  His 177.9 QB rating ranks third and has thrown just 7 interceptions.  Moore was a Heisman finalist last season, finishing fourth in the voting.

Trent Richardson
Richardson is a junior running back for the 11-1, BCS Championship Bowl-bound Alabama Crimson Tide. The Doak Walker Award winner ranks sixth in rushing yards with 1,583 yards and fifth in rushing TDs with 20.  He has caught 27 passes for 327 yards with 3 scores and is tied for fourth in overall scoring with 138 points.

Denard Robinson
Robinson, a junior quarterback for the 10-2, Allstate Sugar Bowl-bound Michigan Wolverines is one of the most exciting players in college football.  He has passed for 2,056 yards and 18 TDs with a QB rating of 142.2 (38th) while throwing 14 interceptions.  On the ground, he has rushed for 1,163 yards and 16 TDs.

So what did our Leatherhead brethren come up with?

Drum Roll Please…

                  First  Second   Third  Total
Griffin           9 (3)   2 (1)   2 (2)    13
Richardson        3 (1)   8 (4)   2 (2)    13
Ball              9 (3)   2 (1)   0 (0)    11
Luck              3 (1)   6 (3)   1 (1)    10
Keenum            6 (2)   0 (0)   2 (2)     8
Robinson          0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
Barkley           0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
James             0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
Moore             0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1

 

So Griffin and Richardson tie with RG3 getting more first place votes (3 to 1) while Richardson having more people voting for him, including more second place votes (4 to 1). I feel that Griffin will win tonight with Richardson finishing second. Ball and Luck will be 3 and 4, although I can not predict which order. Mathieu should be fifth.

I personally voted for Ball to win the award with Richardson second. When I think of the Heisman, running backs rank higher to me than QBs and other positions. Why? Could it be that when growing up running backs won the award from 1973 to 1983? Flutie screwed everything up with his Hail Marry pass in 1984.

Anyway, Ball has had a monster statistical season with one game left to break past Heisman winner Barry Sander’s single-season Football Bowl Subdivision touchdown record of 39 that he set during the 1988 season. Richardson is just a monster and can not wait to see him run in the NFL.

My third choice was Keenum. Why? I love those guys on perceived lessor teams that light it up with 9 TDs in a game. Timmy Chang anyone? If Houston had defeated Southern Mississippi, I probably would have had him number one. But he lost.

I could have easily voted for Griffin as my number 3. Afterall, his nickname is RG3.

 

Participating voters: David Boyce, Bo Carter, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Joe Williams.

 

Heisman 2011: A Week 4 Snapshot

In 1935, the Downtown Athletic Club in New York created an award for the most outstanding player in collegiate football. Eventually it was renamed in honor of the club’s athletic director, John Heisman. It has become one of the most prestigious annual awards in all of sports and pundits begin weighing in on potential winners in the preseason.

With each successive week the focus becomes sharper. By the time the award is presented in early December, there is typically an odds-on favorite. The interest is particularly keen this year, with a large field of candidates.  Here are some of the most commonly mentioned candidates.

Andrew Luck
The Stanford QB was runner-up in the Heisman balloting to Auburn’s Cam Newton last year. A redshirt junior, he surprised many by forgoing the NFL to play a third collegiate season. He was the preseason favorite and has performed well to date. Stanford had a week four bye, but Luck has led them to a 3-0 record with 786 passing yards on 57 completions. He has tossed eight TDs and only one INT.

Kellen Moore
A redshirt senior, Moore has led his Boise State Broncos to both prominence and BCS contention over his three seasons. Though a Heisman finalist last year, he is often dismissed by pundits due to his stature (6 ft. 0 in., 190 lbs.). His size hasn’t inhibited his success, however. Moore is 41-2 as a starting QB. He’s already thrown for 995 yards and 12 TDs this season (against two INTs). The Broncos are 4-0 and have their sights set on a national championship.

Marcus Lattimore
The South Carolina tailback burst on to the Heisman stage this year with 611 rushing yards and eight TDs. He also has a TD through the air and 139 receiving yards for the Gamecocks. Though only a sophomore, he has carried his team to a 4-0 record overall record and 2-0 in the SEC.

Robert Griffin III
The Baylor Bears don’t get a lot of attention, often being overshadowed by more prominent Big 12 schools. Their junior QB has brought them notoriety this season though. Once a player earns a universal nickname, his stock is bound to rise. “RG3” has earned a lot of Heisman mentions this season. His Bears are 3-0 and he has 962 passing yards and 13 TDs (with no INTs).

Landry Jones
The Oklahoma Sooners have enjoyed top billing in the weekly AP poll much of this season. Landry Jones is a primary reason for that prominence. The redshirt junior QB has 1,022 passing yards this season for the 3-0 Sooners. He has five TDs against four INTs.

Russell Wilson
Wilson is a redshirt senior QB for the Wisconsin Badgers, having transferred from North Carolina State, where he enjoyed much success in the ACC. He has led Wisconsin to a 4-0 start throwing for 1,136 yards and 11 TDs and one INT.

Geno Smith
Every writer is entitled to a dark horse candidate. I’ll take Geno Smith, junior QB for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Smith has thrown for 1,471 yards so far, with nine TDs and three INTs. West Virginia is 3-1, having lost to LSU last Saturday. Despite the loss Smith threw for 463 yards against the Tigers, one of the best defenses in the NCAA.

One other player who emerged last weekend with 288 yards rushing and two TDs is LaMichael James, a junior tailback for Oregon. During the preseason he was widely expected to be among the contenders, but has not had a Heisman performance until last Saturday against Arizona. Going forward he may find his way into the conversation.

These players all have impressive credentials, making for interesting competition. Unlike many recent years’ competition, this could be a toss up in December.

 

Check out this disscussion on Moore and Lattimore at: Heisman Hopefuls Kellen Moore and Lattimore

 

Pete Sonski blogs about college football. He welcomes feedback here and on Twitter @PSPRGuy.