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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Thursday, December 08, 2005

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SMQ and roommate of SMQ, controlling mediocre Big Ten programs in a marathon NCAA 2006 Dynasty now entering Year Seven (2011...and no, we don't sim games), have collectively won five Heisman Trophies in six seasons, none by quarterbacks and two by wide receivers.

Alas, if only 2,000-yard receiving seasons and actual Heisman Trophies were so cheap. The for-real hardware is exclusive and borderline impossible to win, given the breaks a player must get - on top of natural talent - to emerge as the best of some 10,000 Division I-A players.

The finalists this year are only three, as opposed to the usual five or six, and they are obvious, given their performances, statistics and tremendous hype. That all hail from teams that are undefeated juggernauts colliding for the mythical national championship next month is not a coincidence.

Here is SMQ's tale of the Heisman tape, with each candidate's likelihood of success denoted by Little Desmond:


Season Stats
182-285 (63.9 percent), 2769 yards, 26 TD, 10 INT; 136 rushes, 850 yards (6.3 per carry), 9 TD

Best Games
10/15 - COLORADO: 25-29 (86.2 percent), 345 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 10 rushes, 58 yards (5.8 per carry), 3 TDs
10/29 - at OKLAHOMA STATE: 15-30 (50 percent), 239 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 21 rushes, 267 yards (12.7 per carry), 2 TD
12/3 – COLORADO (Big XII Championship): 14-17 (82.4 percent), 193 yards; 3 TD, 1 INT; 8 rushes, 57 yards (7.1 per carry), 1 TD

Worst Games
9/17 - RICE: 8-14 (57/1 percent), 101 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; 8 rushes, 77 yards (9.6 per carry)
11/25 -TEXAS A&M: 13-24 (54.2 percent), 162 yards, 1TD, 1 INT; 11 rushes, 19 yards (1.7 per carry).

In Big Games
9/10 at OHIO STATE: 18-29 (62.1 percent), 270 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; 20 rushes, 76 yards (3.8 per carry)
10/8 OKLAHOMA: 14-27 (51.9 percent), 241 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 17 rushes, 45 yards (2.6 per carry)

Big Stat
60, 25, 51, 51, 45, 42, 52, 47, 62, 66, 40, 70. That's the number of points Texas has scored in its 12 games this season. That's just shy of per game, best in the country (even better, by almost a point, than his opponents' efforts at USC). For a team that uses tailback by committee and lacks star power at wide out, Mr. Young gets the lion's share of the credit for those eye-popping totals.

THE KNOCK: Because of his passing struggles early in his career, and his incredible rushing effort in his most high profile game, against Michigan in last year's Rose Bowl, Young is still in "great athlete, but..." pergatory that hinders his reputation as a quarterback and as a pro prospect. He threw for 300 yards only once; was held to negative rushing yardage by Kansas, which he crushed with his legs as a sophomore. FAced only one top flight defense (Ohio State).
THE CASE: The Vick-level athleticism was already a given entering the year, but Young actually matured dramatically as a passer. He had no games under 50 percent completion percentage; five games with a completion percentage over 60, three over 70, two (both against Colorado) well over 80. His arm and leg make him the toughest quarterback to defend in the country, by far, and he directed an offense that lacked other stars to become the highest scoring unit anywhere, and did it in spectacular fashion. Easily the MVP of an undefeated, dominant team.

Season Stats
254-391 (65 percent), 3450 yards, 27 TD, 7 INT

Best Games
9/17 - ARKANSAS: 18-24 (75 percent), 381 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT; 1 rushing TD
10/29 - WASHINGTON STATE: 24-34 (70.6 percent), 364 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
11/5 - STANFORD: 22-28 (78.6 percent), 259 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT

Worst Games
10/1 - at ARIZONA STATE: 23-39 (59 percent), 258 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; 1 rushing TD
11/12 – at CALIFORNIA: 20-32 (62.5 percent), 246 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

In Big Games
9/24 - at OREGON: 23-39 (59 percent), 315 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
10/15 - at NOTRE DAME: 17-32 (53.1 percent), 301 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
12/3 - UCLA: 21-40 (52.5 percent), 233 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

Big Stat
Six times, Leinart has exceeded the 300-yard mark, all in the first seven games. And, of course, the big BIG stat: 36-1.

THE KNOCK: Has an unprecedented amount of talent around him, not least of all a beastly running game that takes all sorts of pressure off, an offensive line that keeps him clean and receivers who fly by everyone and get open by miles. Big numbers in that sort of situation mean just not screwing up. Has already had his time in the sun. One-dimensional player.
THE CASE: The most recognizable player in the country, and one of the most likeable. Numbers are phenomenal, and Leinart has more yards in fewer attempts than last season, and look at those "bad" games: not so bad, huh? Made his biggest plays with his back against the wall on the road at Notre Dame (fourth down bomb to Dwayne Jarrett, winning touchdown sneak as time expires), the most visible game of the season. If voters are swayed by an entire career, he wins it.

Season Stats
187 rushes, 1,658 yards (8.9 per carry), 15 TD; 31catches, 383 yards (12.4 per catch), 2 TD; 2,611 All-Purpose yards (leads nation)

Best Games
10/15 - at NOTRE DAME: 15 rushes, 160 yards (10.7 per carry), 3 TD; 4 catches, 35 yards (8.8 per catch)
11/19 - FRESNO STATE: 23 rushes, 293 yards (12.8 per carry), 2 TD; 3 catches, 68 yards (22.7 per catch)
12/3 - UCLA: 24 rushes, 260 yards (10.8 per carry); 2 TD

Worst Games
10/22 - at WASHINGTON: 8 rushes, 51 yards (6.4 per carry), 1 TD; 2 catches, 18 yards (9.0 per catch)
11/12 – at CALIFORNIA: 17 rushes, 82 yards (4.8 per carry); 1 catch, 4 yards

In Big Games
9/24 - at OREGON: 20 rushes, 122 yards (6.1 per carry), 1 TD; 3 catches, 43 yards, 1 TD
10/15 - at NOTRE DAME: 15 rushes, 160 yards (10.7 per carry), 3 TD; 4 catches, 35 yards (8.8 per catch)
12/3 - UCLA: 24 rushes, 260 yards (10.8 per carry); 2 TD

Big Stat Come on, 8.8 yards per carry? Ridiculous. Bush averaged more than nine per carry in six games, all but one (Arkansas) on more than 12 rushes.

THE KNOCK: Is he indisputably the best running back on his team, much less the most outstanding player? Did he get enough touches? Couldn't USC have gone undefeated without him? Doesn't the talent around him open things up more than it does for, say, Laurence Mauroney?
THE CASE: Just put on a tape of his last two games. The Michael Vick of running backs (with better numbers), Marshall Faulk with an extra gear. Humongous numbers aside, the guy is one of those special, change-the-game type players in the Vick mold. Coaches everywhere now are going to want that player who can handle the load at running back, split wide or motion and create mismatches in the passing game, and give a big play spark in the return game. Bush defines the category. Led the nation in all-purpose yards and would have put up better numbers in an offense that didn't have to spread it around so much.

There you are: SMQ says it's Mr. Bush, hyped and sparked by three huge, nationally showcased performances, by a juke over Young Saturday. But what does he know? Ask the expert.
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10:14 AM

Very well done, SMQ. Fair and balanced look at all three candidates. I think you nailed it; Bush wins, though not quite by the landslide that HP predicts.

Fine work.
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