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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: Preseason

The race for the 2010 Heisman Trophy begins a week from yesterday. Can you believe it?

With less than a week to go before the first Thursday of the year, and with plenty of teams, matchups and players still to be discussed, this seemed like a good time to unveil Pre-Snap Read’s initial Heisman list — Heisman Watch: Preseason. The list will be updated weekly, with last week’s totals, a discussion of the player’s most recent performance, season totals and an overview of the player’s year thus far. Now, the top 10 list has been listed along the right sidebar all summer — since P.S.R.’s inception, in fact — but since this will be a weekly post, likely dropping on Mondays, it makes sense to have an initial preseason list. Why am I explaining myself? Let’s check out the debut list.

1. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 6 vs. Virginia Tech (in Landover, Md.): –
Year to date: –

If it can get past the Hokies on Sept. 6, Boise State has a very good shot at running the table. If the Broncos do just that, taking out the Hokies, Oregon State and its paltry WAC slate. If that does occur, Moore is a Heisman front-runner. Of course, it doesn’t need to be said that his chances hinge greatly on a perfect regular season; in fact, they might depend on whether Boise reaches the B.C.S. title game. For what he’s accomplished over the last two years, Moore should be smack in the middle of the Heisman conversation.

2. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 2 vs. Marshall: –
Year to date: –

This pick is based solely off the flashes of superb play we’ve all seen from Pryor, not off his actual results as a freshman and sophomore. It’s all based on potential, based on the idea that last year’s Rose Bowl win will springboard Pryor to a terrific junior season. It’s happened once before, if you recall: Vince Young’s dominating performance against Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl vaulted him to a Heisman-worthy junior season. Pryor needs to work on his passing and must be fully recovered from his knee surgery; his Buckeyes must also win the Big Ten.

3. RB Mark Ingram, Alabama (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 4 vs. San Jose State: –
Year to date: –

The reigning Heisman winner needs only to fend off a teammate to reclaim the award. That and buck the award’s trend of shying away from repeat winners, of course. As great as Ingram as is, he’s due to have some of his carries go to sophomore Trent Richardson, a back that would surely start for the overwhelming majority of schools in the country: try, say, 117 out of a possible 120 teams. Ingram has name recognition, which helps; he has a wonderful team around him, which is a huge boost; but he must exceed all expectations to return to the podium. As last year’s winner and as a key cog in Alabama’s attack, Ingram can’t be anywhere but in the top three.

4. RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 4 vs. T.C.U.: –
Year to date: –

Rodgers has started to land some national love, which is great. In addition, he’s joins Moore as the only Heisman contenders on this list with a big opportunity to boost their stock on the opening weekend. Rodgers doesn’t necessarily need Oregon State to win, as no one expects the Beavers to run the table. He does need to have a big game against one of the nation’s premier defenses. Not to hijack this section, but T.C.U. quarterback Andy Dalton could move into the mix with a win and solid showing against the Beavers.

5. RB John Clay, Wisconsin (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 4 at U.N.L.V.: –
Year to date: –

Wisconsin’s big back has a few obstacles to overcome: his ankles, actually. If Clay can stay on the field and keep his weight under control, he’ll be an old-school, throwback type of Big Ten running back. His Badgers don’t necessarily need to win the Big Ten to keep his chances afloat, though it would help. What Clay needs to do is produce, rack up 1,500 yards and 15-plus touchdowns. He’s capable of doing that.

6. QB Case Keenum, Houston (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 4 vs. Texas State: –
Year to date: –

The numbers will be too difficult to ignore. Barring injury, Keenum will throw for another 5,000 yards with another 40 touchdowns. He’s on the verge of breaking the F.B.S. record for total and passing offense, which needs to count for something. He’ll continue to move up this list as his team defeats B.C.S. conference competition; he’ll move down, or at best remain stagnant, if the Cougars can’t defeat U.C.L.A., Mississippi State and Texas Tech, with the Bruins and Red Raiders on the road.

7. QB Jacory Harris, Miami (Fla.) (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 2 vs. Florida A&M: –
Year to date: –

One could make the case that no one player is more important to his team. Every player in the Heisman mix is important, of course, but few mean more to their team’s efforts than does Harris: Miami is barely a bowl team without him under center. So why here, and not higher? For starters, the Hurricanes are a question mark. They could be as good as 11-1, which would be a remarkable finish for this program. They could also be as poor as 7-5, thanks to another deadly schedule. If Miami takes another step forward and Harris limits his turnovers, get ready for Harris to make push.

8. QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 4 vs. Tennessee Tech: –
Year to date: –

Another guy due to put some tremendous numbers. Mallett also earns points for doing so in the SEC; Keenum, in Conference USA, won’t even sniff a defense the caliber of which Mallett is due to face on nearly a weekly basis — U.C.L.A., maybe. Mallett’s in the mix due to his arm and his statistical output. What he needs, however, and what every underdog needs, is a marquee performance. A win against Alabama, for instance, would rocket Mallett up the charts.

9. RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 4 vs. Utah State: –
Year to date: –

Could have gone with any of three Oklahoma offensive players: Murray, receiver Ryan Broyles or quarterback Landry Jones. This is actually an issue for Murray, as he’ll have to excel to distance himself from his talented teammates. Murray’s a factor not just because of his ability as a runner, but because he can make an impact as a receiver and in the return game. More opportunities, more chances to shine. My biggest worry with Murray is his health; he’s been sidelined at one point or another in each of the last two seasons.

10. QB Ricky Dobbs, Navy (Last week: –)

Week 1, Sept. 6 vs. Maryland (in Baltimore): –
Year to date: –

Dobbs is not the longest of long shots, but he’ll have a tough road. I love Dobbs, who combines athletic achievement with the type of off-field demeanor the Heisman trust will adore. For Dobbs, the biggest issue is Navy’s schedule. It won’t give him very many chances to shine on a national stage, leaving a strong performance against Notre Dame a must. What’s the best thing about Dobbs? While I’m sure he’d love to win the Heisman, I get the impression he has bigger fish to fry. He’s one of my favorite players in college football.

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  1. M Meyer says:

    I’m rooting for old-fashioned bruiser John Clay. It would really warm the hearts of everyone in the Midwest to see it go to an all cattle no hat kind of guy.

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