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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Barkley’

P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 4

It’s not unprecedented for the eventual Heisman winner to lose at least one game during the regular season – in fact, recent history shows that it’s just as common for the winner to lose at least once than it is for him to run the table. Of the last 10 Heisman winners, not counting Reggie Bush, five have lost at least one game during the regular season: Eric Crouch lost once, Carson Palmer lost twice, Tim Tebow lost three times, Sam Bradford lost once and Robert Griffin III lost three times. So the door to the Heisman is far from closed to Matt Barkley, who was unable to lead U.S.C. past Stanford on Saturday night. But one difference between Barkley and the five quarterbacks listed above is that Barkley entered the season as the undisputed favorite; that might help, in a way, but it might also open up a path for one of his prime challengers – De’Anthony Thomas or Geno Smith, for example – to put a stranglehold on the top spot. One thing is clear: Barkley can’t lose again. Before tackling the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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    U.S.C.’s Flaws Cut Title Hopes Down to Size

    Let’s run down the issues, because they’re numerous, they’re vital and they’ve suddenly risen to the surface, thanks to U.S.C.’s 21-14 loss to Stanford on Saturday night. There’s the Trojans’ offensive line, which fell apart without Khaled Holmes as its anchor at center. Tied into the line play is Matt Barkley’s inability to handle the pass rush – and this reflects more so on U.S.C.’s front than the team’s Heisman contender under center. There’s the offense’s inefficiency on third down, which went overlooked against Hawaii and Syracuse but stood front and center against the Cardinal. There’s the defensive line, an issue today just as it was in August.

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      P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 3

      The SEC rules the roost – Monday’s post touting the Big 12 notwithstanding. Beyond the national titles, the SEC has also staked a claim to the Heisman since 2007, when Tim Tebow was the league’s first of three Heisman winners in four years. So… what can’t the SEC do? While it’s going to be hard for a team to take out Alabama or L.S.U. in January, it seems – through two weeks, to be fair – that the SEC will not put forth a leading Heisman contender in 2012. For now, fringe and true-blooded candidates like Aaron Murray, Jarvis Jones, Eddie Lacy, Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson stand removed from the Heisman’s upper crust. The good news? These players will have ample opportunities to state their case in October and November, when SEC opponents butt heads for conference supremacy. For a player like Murray and Jones, solid showings against Missouri are one thing; doing the same against Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina will make voters really stand up and take notice. Before getting to the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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        Injuries Level the Field in the Pac-12 Race

        U.S.C. had the quarterback, the wide receivers, the confidence and the hype. But if nothing else, Oregon had one crucial factor in its corner: depth. And not just normal, everyday depth but experienced depth, and even the Trojans’ fiercest backers had to admit that their team – due entirely to sanctions – was lacking in this key category. Knee injuries suffered by free safety John Boyett and offensive guard Carson York go a long way towards evening the score between the Ducks and Trojans, leveling the playing field in a Pac-12 dominated by two teams, U.S.C. and Oregon – and in this competition this close, every player counts.

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          Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

          Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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            P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 2

            This week’s moving and shaking has not impacted the top group: the four or five leading contenders remain in place, with little movement. But along the back end, opening-week showings from several under-the-radar skill players – not too far under the radar, to be honest – has led to a retooling of the second tier. Who knew that Taylor Martinez had that sort of arm? Who knew that Denard Robinson was going to lay such an egg? The latter question raises another interesting idea: What does Robinson need to do to leap back into the mix for the Heisman? It won’t be merely about numbers for Michigan’s senior, though that’s certainly part and parcel of any player’s candidacy – Robinson needs to cut down on interceptions, do more with his legs, score touchdowns, what have you. But Robinson also needs highlight-reel moments, the sort that could remind the voting public why he remains one of the most dangerous players in college football; beyond that, he needs wins. A run to Pasadena would put the bloom back on Robinson’s rose. Before getting to the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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              P.S.R. 2012 Heisman Watch: Preseason

              Remember when Andrew Luck was a lock for the Heisman? His Heisman campaign took off roughly midway through his sophomore season, when Luck led Stanford to its first major breakthrough, and then reached a fever pitch once he opted to return for one more season with the Cardinal. At this point a year ago, Luck was the odds-on favorite to not only win the Heisman but to win it with ease – going wire-to-wire unlike any Heisman winner in recent memory. That Luck didn’t was not a reflection on his own level of play, which was superb, but rather an illustration of just how hard it is to maintain your grasp on the top spot while dozens of other qualified candidates state their case over the three months of the regular season. Last fall, Luck’s early lead evaporated once Robert Griffin III led Baylor to its finest season in decades, if not the finest season in school history. A year later, Matt Barkley finds himself in a similar situation. Before getting to the leading contenders, the first installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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                No. 5: U.S.C.

                Is that all you got? U.S.C. took your best shot, wiped its lip, shrugged it off and kept on moving, strolling past the overly harsh ruling heaved its way by the N.C.A.A. and coming out clean as a whistle on the other side. Sanctions, penalties, crippling sanctions and penalties? Please. U.S.C. is in a better place today than it was before the N.C.A.A. misguidedly threw down its hammer, if you can believe that. The level of swagger is at 2005-like levels. The quarterback is the best in the nation. The backfield has two 1,000-yard rushers. There are two 1,000-yard receivers. The back seven on defense is ferocious. It’s glory days all over again, even if the Trojans were just put under a two-year cloud, and this program shows no sign of letting up now that all systems are officially go. U.S.C. is back, ladies and gentlemen. That the N.C.A.A. tried and failed to take the Trojans down a peg only makes this renaissance all the more sweet.

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                  The Countdown

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