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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

The 2010 Heisman

P.S.R. 2010 Heisman Watch: Week 3

New week, new names, new faces, but Kellen Moore still holds P.S.R.'s top Heisman spot.

So we’re two weeks into the season: things are slowly starting to take shape. We know of a few names that were either on this list last week or knocking on the door who are no longer viable candidates — for now, at least. We know of a few hot names rising rapidly on the national scene, including a certain quarterback in Michigan. By and large, however, there’s been little shakeup among the top five. The early-season leaders are still leading the pack, though we need to keep our eyes on those fast-rising names making a claim to the top spot.

1. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State (Last week: No. 1)

Week 2 bye
Year to date 23-38 for 215 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

You can take down his team all you want following Virginia Tech’s loss to James Madison, but Moore doesn’t lose his spot because of the off week. He’ll get right back at it on Saturday against a Wyoming team coping with the dreadful passing of a teammate. I have no doubt that we’ll see another top-notch performance from Moore and the Broncos. As with his team, all Moore can do is put together his typical performance: 300 yards passing, multiple touchdowns, no picks.

Week 3 at Wyoming, Saturday

2. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State (Last week: No. 2)

Week 2 W 36-24 vs. Miami (Fla.) (12 of 27 for 233 yards, 1 TD, o INT; 20 carries for 113 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 29 of 52 for 480 yards, 4 TD, o INT; 25 carries for 145 yards, 1 TD

Pryor’s not quite there as a passer, and he might never be the most polished pocket thrower, to be honest. From top to bottom, he lacks great touch. We can live with that, I assume. He was a menace on the ground against Miami (Fla.), consistently moving the chains on third down with his legs. And this nothing new for Pryor, who is as good on third down as any runner in the country. What stands out to me upon watching Pryor play is his strength: now that Tim Tebow has moved on, Pryor is clearly the strongest quarterback in the country. A win over a top 15 team only further solidifies his status as a leading Heisman contender.

Week 3 vs. Ohio, Saturday

3. RB John Clay, Wisconsin (Last week: No. 3)

Week 1 W 27-14 vs. San Jose State (23 carries for 137 yards, 2 TD)
Year to date 40 carries for 260 yards, 4 TD

Wisconsin had to fend off a feisty effort from San Jose State, though the final result doesn’t represent how in control the Badgers were from the opening whistle through the final snap. It was vintage Clay, albeit against an inferior opponent: tough yards between the tackles, two short touchdown runs and one long, 40-yard jaunt. Nothing spectacular, just the typical. We can’t hold that against Clay. More so than Moore and Pryor, Clay will make his noise during Big Ten play; the Badgers don’t have a marquee game in non-conference action.

Week 3 vs. Arizona State, Saturday

4. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan (Last week: –)

Week 2 W 28-24 vs. Notre Dame (24 of 40 for 244 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 28 carries for 258 yards, 2 TD)
Year to date 43 of 62 for 430 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 57 carries for 455 yards, 3 TD

He should be higher, right? Probably, in all honesty. Robinson has been superb, pure and simple. He’s been beyond superb, single-handedly carrying Michigan to a 2-0 start. That’s no exaggeration — he’s done it all, taken the ball on every snap and been the only skill player of consequence for an offense still missing the accompanying role players. Can he keep it up all year? It’s hard to think so; at this rate, he’ll have more than 350 carries at year’s end. Can’t imagine Robinson being able to withstand such a pounding. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, on the other hand, there’s no reason to doubt Robinson. He’s been the story of the season thus far; maybe he should be higher, in retrospect.

Week 3 vs. Massachusetts, Saturday

5. QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (Last week: No. –)

Week 2 W 31-7 vs. La.-Monroe (28 of 43 for 400 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)
Year to date 49 of 67 for 710 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT

I held Mallett’s weak competition against him a week ago, giving Houston’s Case Keenum the top spot among prolific quarterbacks feasting on an easy schedule. After Keenum, through no fault of his own, had unspectacular numbers against UTEP, Mallett steps ahead. He has a big game coming up, at a hungry Georgia team coming off a disappointing SEC loss. More so than the other players in the top five, Mallett really needs only to put together a great season; the Razorbacks don’t need to go 12-0, though wins against solid competition in SEC play will surely help.

Week 3 at Georgia, Saturday

6. RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 6)

Week 2 W 47-17 vs. Florida State (16 carries for 51 yards, 2 TD; 4 catches for 52 yards)
Year to date 51 carries for 269 yards, 2 TD; 4 catches for 52 yards

Murray wasn’t able to recapture the rushing form that defined his performance against Utah State, but he was impressive in Oklahoma’s win over Florida State. Oklahoma as a whole was impressive, in fact, with Landry Jones helping to pick up the slack statistically; hence why Murray rushed for only 50 yards, not 215. Still, Murray made an impact with his two rushing scores and 52 yards receiving, illustrating why he’s one of the top dual-threat backs in the country. Ryan Broyles made some news yesterday, and Jones was far better, but Murray remains the star of one of the nation’s best offenses.

Week 3 vs. Air Force, Saturday

7. QB Matt Barkley, U.S.C. (Last week: No. 9)

Week 2 W 17-14 vs. Virginia (20 of 35 for 202 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT)
Year to date 38 of 58 for 459 yards, 7 TD, 0 INT

Barkley continues to impress, even though the Trojans have yet to play a complete game. He’s made a sizable improvement over last season, if the first two weeks are any indication. His footwork is terrific; he’s far more light on his feet, able to avoid the rush and step up and into the pocket before delivering to his target. This has been an important development, as has his ability to avoid turnovers; this was an issue in 2009. The offense was not as explosive on Saturday as it was a week ago, but the Trojans did enough to earn a hard-fought win. I’m sure Barkley would agree this wasn’t his finest performance, though he played good, solid, error-free football.

Week 3 at Minnesota, Saturday

8. QB Case Keenum, Houston (Last week: No. 5)

Week 1 W 54-24 vs. UTEP (15 of 24 for 279 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT)
Year to date 32 of 46 for 553 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT

Keenum deserves our respect for sticking his nose into the mix in an effort to halt a UTEP interception return, though it hurt his numbers in Houston’s revenge win over UTEP. His availability for next week’s game is in question, unfortunately: his Heisman campaign needs solid numbers — not to mention wins — against B.C.S. conference opposition. In Keenum’s defense, he did miss the final four possessions of Houston’s win over UTEP; still, his totals weren’t great — by his standards. Keenum’s Heisman hopes hinge on his availability, and his performance, against U.C.L.A. this weekend. If he plays, and plays well, he’ll clearly remain in the mix.

Week 3 at U.C.L.A., Saturday

9. RB Marcus Lattimore  (Last week: –)

Week 2 W 22-6 vs. Georgia (37 carries for 182 yards, 2 TD)
Year to date 51 carries for 236 yards, 4 TD

No freshman has had a bigger impact: Lattimore carried this South Carolina offense a week ago, helping the Gamecocks land a meaningful home win against a strong conference opponent. His play has been the difference all year, in fact, allowing U.S.C. to finally embrace the running game Steve Spurrier has long desired. If Spurrier’s comments are to be believed, this isn’t going to change any time soon. Lattimore, barring injury, will continue to rack up carries and yards — especially against Furman this weekend, though he’s due to get a slight breather against an inferior opponent.

Week 3 vs. Furman, Saturday

10. QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Last week: –)

Week 2 W 35-0 at U.C.L.A. (11 of 24 for 151 yards, 2 TD, o INT; 7 carries for 63 yards)
Year to date 28 of 47 for 467 yards, 6 TD, o INT; 10 carries for 71 yards

Slowly, steadily and surely, Luck is living up to his billing. He wasn’t perfect against U.C.L.A., no: nor did he have to be. He was merely average as a passer, though he did throw a pair of touchdowns without an interception. What he did against the Bruins, and what he does so well, is move the ball with his feet. He’s not a run-first guy, not by a long shot. But Luck is adept at moving the chains when the pocket breaks down. He did that against U.C.L.A., helping lead Stanford to a 35-0 conference win — and helping him land a spot on this list.

Week 3 vs. Wake Forest, Saturday

Dropped out

QB Jacory Harris, Miami (Fla.) (Last Week: No. 4)
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama (Last week: No. 7)
QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (Last week: No. 10)

Week 2 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Preseason list Kellen Moore, No. 1

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  1. Burnt Orange says:

    John Clay – #3 on PSR, 40 carries for 260 against UNLV and San Jose State.

    Kendall Hunter – unappreciated and unloved on PSR – 49 carries for 414 against WSU and Troy.

  2. M Meyer says:

    Another back deserving consideration (though I definitely agree that Kendall Hunter should be on the list):

    Iowa’s Adam Robinson 265 yards on 38 carries. 4 rushing TDs. 3 receptions for 43 yards.

  3. re22 says:

    Denard Robinson has 885 yards after two games against quality opponents. If you are ranking after two games and not merely predicting the winner in December, then Robinson is number one by a mile. Have you seen what this guy has done? It’s of historic proportions after two weeks, which is what your ranking is based upon.

  4. lutzg8tr says:

    Where is Jeff Demps?

  5. charlie says:

    what RE22 said. On a related note, how many hard hits has Robinson taken this year? I don’t know, can’t remember any from the ND game. Someone should take a look at that.

    I suppose his injury risk is about that of a fast RB.

  6. bob says:

    Daniel Thomas (KSU), now the leading rusher (RB’s) in the country, w/ 6 TD’s, on an undefeated team, is not on your list. If he’s not for week 4, you’re a moron.

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