to play football, not to play trumpet
denard 4 heisman
Before we knew what surprises Hoke, Borges, et al. had on Saturday, there was discussion (read: lamentation) of Denard's chances for the rushing record by quarterbacks. Now, with the 98 yards he could be as close as 207 to Pat White.
HOWEVA...in that discussion, people claimed variously that he had 4129 yards or 4175. The reason for this discrepancy was the 46 yards he accumulated last year in his matchup against Alex "Did You Know Graham Couch Is My Mom" Carder & WMU. Some sites count them, and some do not.
We UM fans have always decided to count them (witness the case for Fitz' thousand-yard season). As for the NCAA?
- At the time, it seemed that "the game was called with the result and statistics standing".
- Then they wouldn't.
- Then finally they were again? Hopefully that's where the needle has stopped.
Yet another reason why Iowa has to somehow win Friday: gives him 3 games to get 69 ypg, as opposed to 104 ypg without the B1G championship.
BUT: the bulk of his carries on Saturday came from the running back position. Would the record book make such a distinction? The record IS "yards rushing by a quarterback"...but think of what wrinkles like the wildcat could do to record-keeping...
One would think that wouldn't matter, right? Except that keepers of record books, as we know, love to pick them some nits...
[ed-S: this is totally a diary. Bump]
Looking at the 2012 preseason frontrunners for the Heisman trophy I've been trying to see who would reasonably be the best candidate for the award at seasons end, and have come up with a reasonable argument as to why Denard Robinson can win in 2012. The best case I made for this scenario is looking at recent winners for similar criteria that stand out, and then looking at this seasons favorites to see who might have the biggest year. I started breaking down those finalists performances from last season, looked at how this season projects, and have come up with the solution that: Of all the best candidates, Denard is most likely to have Heisman success in 2012.
Firstly: Past winners haven't necessarily been the best prospects for the NFL draft, or always played on the #1 overall team, or put up the gaudiest numbers, but had dynamic highlights, and the gaudiest numbers against top level opponents. For 2011, Andrew Luck would have been my personal pick as the "best" player to have future success in the NFL, but he didn't win the Heisman. Trent Richardson was the best offensive player on the #1 overall team but didn't win, and kids like Kellen Moore and Case Keenum put up by far the gaudiest numbers but were one dimensional players winning against mostly smaller programs, and neither was even drafted.
4 of the last 6 winners had multiple dimensions to their games, creating offense by throwing and running, played in AQ conferences, and scored an average of around 50 touchdowns (roughly 32 passing, and 18 rushing.) 10 of the last 12 winners were quarterbacks.
Note: Sam Bradford had numbers similar to Keenum and Moore (4721 yards, 50 TDs) but did so at Oklahoma. Troy Smith won scoring only 31 TDs (30 passing, 1 rushing) but had previously scored 11 short yardage rushing TDs in a season, and his only competition was RB Darren McFadden (21 TDs) and Brady Quinn (lol.)
Next: I broke down the preseason watchlist players 2011 season performance, and tried to chart whether they would improve or regress in 2012.
QB Matt Barkley. Last season Barkley was phenominal for USC, and the teams unusual losses and close wins were mostly due to a suspect defense and a lack of a running game, and certainly couldn't be put on Matts shoulders. He essentially had a Matt Stafford year: No running game? No problem. With Matt Kalil protecting his blindside he attempted almost 100 extra passes than the previous 2 seasons more balanced attacks, and put up around 1000 extra yards. His completion% went up a few ticks, his YPA went up slightly, but his TD/INT numbers drastically improved and he put 39 in the end zone through the air, 2 on the ground.
2012 production? Regress. He will improve and mature as a passer and a qb, and will likely be the #1 overall pick and be most likely to succeed in the NFL a-la Andrew Luck, but every analyst since his decision to return for his senior year has stated that without the stellar blindside protection of Kalil, and a new feature running back (in 1200 yard rusher/PSU transfer Silas Redd) added to the roster will reduce Barkleys attempts back to a previous average of around 360, as opposed to the 446 attempts in 2011. Thus the USC running game production will go up, and Barkleys production will go down, as will his TDs.
RB Montee Ball. In 2011 Ball rushed a staggering 307 times for 1,923 yards and 39 TDs (33 rushing.) He had the definition of a "breakout" year, catching many defenses by surprise as part of the new 2 headed monster of power rusher-meets-mobile quarterback Russel Wilson, almost doubling his attempts, more than doubling his total yards, and almost doubling his rushing TDs from 2010. He even tied Barry Sanders record for TDs in a single season by a running back, and set the B1G record for total TDs in one season by any player (Denard accounted for 36 in 2010.)
2012 production? Regress. He will be a better player in 2012 all around, but again, circumstances will limit his overall numerical production over his 2011 breakout year. He will be the major focus of every B1G defense he faces this season, he won't have the added push of recent 1st and 2nd round draft picks OG Kevin Zeitler, and C Peter Konz blocking for him. A new pro-style qb starting for the Badgers will also allow opposing Linebackers to focus on the one man rush attack, so while I can imagine his workload staying the same, or even increasing, I have to believe his numbers will be reduced from last years incredible output.
Other 2012 standouts:
QB Landry Jones. Pro: Threw for 4463 yards in 2011 and scored 29 TDs, threw for 4718 yards in 2010 and an incredible 38 TDs! Threw for 3198 yards in 2009 as a freshman, and 26 TDs.
Con: Threw 14 INTs in 2009, 12 INTs in 2010, and 15 INTs in 2011, and has been sacked 41 times in 3 years.
2012 production? Not good enough to win the Heisman. He will likely throw for another 4,000 yards this season, but probably fewer than 20 TDs, and has thrown more total INTs (including more on average) than Denard. This will mostly be due to the Sooners losing the most prolific WR in NCAA history in Ryan Broyles to the 2012 draft, so his INTs will likely increase. 2012 = QB OH NOOESSSS!!!!
QB Geno Smith. Against Big East competition in 2011 Smith put up ridiculous numbers, 4385 yards on an equally ridiculous 526! attempts. Against a suspect Clemson defense he did similarly well, accounting for an incredible 407 passing yards and 6 TDs (assisted by 4 Clemson turnovers.)
Pros: Smith finshed the season with 31 TDs, 7 INTs.
Con: He did so against mostly Big East competition, only managed 31 TDs on (again) 526! attempts, and has been sacked 54 (!) times in the last 2 seasons.
2012 production? Regress. Moving to the Big 12 he could be the best qb in the conference, but facing solid defensive teams such as Texas, and TCU he'll be sacked far more often than he already has, should pass for fewer yards, and even fewer touchdowns than last years 31.
CB? Tyrann Mattieu: Not playing football this year.
Lastly: QB Denard Robinson.
2011 was a transitional year for Denard, learning to play in a new offense that (for the first few games of the season) didn't really suit his strengths. He threw, and ran, for fewer yards than in his record breaking 2010 season, regularly ran out of bounds to avoid contact instead of cutting back for bigger gains, left many fans (and several analysts) wondering why he didn't tuck and run as his check down instead of throwing into double and triple coverage, and his INTs increased over his already high 2010 numbers. Yet, despite all of this, he made drastic strides as a QB as the season went on, the offensive scheme was adjusted to suit his strengths, his confidence as a passer grew, and he actually scored more passing and rushing TDs than in his (again) record breaking 2010 season, all despite substatially fewer attempts in both categories.
2012 production? Increase. The addition of a potent power running game in 2011, the #6 scoring defense in the nation, and plucky special teams play assisting in field position and turnovers helped Denard a lot in 2010. A 1000 yard rusher in Fitz Toussaint also gave opposing defenses a true double threat to account for (a la Montee Ball, Russell Wilson.) Last years transitional offense, and in-game RB tryout is now an established offense tailored to Denards strengths, and an established, and deep, power-rush attack. In 2012 many of the top defenses we will face also lost their top tacklers and pass rushers as well (Lavonte David, Whitney Merciless, Aaron Lynch, Jared Crick, Jerel Worthy, Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Wiscys entire DLine, ect) so despite losing Rimington Award winning Center David Molk, the pressure Robinson will face in 2012 should diminish slightly. Additionally, Fall and Spring reports from coaches have been universally positive about his decision making, mechanics, accuracy, and confidence improving.
His 2011 numbers were 2173 yards passing on 258 attempts, 1176 yards rushing on 221 attempts with 36 TDs (20 passing TDs to 15 INTs, and 16 TDs rushing.) If reports from camp translate onto the football field then his INTs should drop this year, giving him more chances for TDs through the air. Depth in the run game from returning feature back Toussaint, senior Smith, and sophomores Rawls and Hayes should set up shorter 3rd downs, and higher % passes. Plus new found WR depth from (more atttempts to) senior Roundtree, 6'4"+ Devin Gardener, 6'2"+ Amara Darboh, 6'5" Ricardo Miller a deep SR group, and a viable TE group should make the loss of jump ball specialist Hemmingway an easier transition. Lastly: New found confidence from Denard, and better decision making, should enable him to tuck-and-run successfully in 2012 when his receivers are covered, and unleash his dynamic playmaking ability. He and the coaches should be less worried about injury by now, and Denard should be ready to eat on Saturdays.
I can easily imagine him improving his rushing and passing yards in 2012 now, and pushing his TD total to over 40, setting a new record for B1G touchdowns in a season, possibly breaking the total-yards record for qbs, winning the B1G, and playing in a BCS bowl at seasons end. If so, the 3 year Heisman hype around Denard could finally come true this year.
Note: players like RB Marcus Lattimore and RB/WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas got a look, but as good an RB as Lattimore has been, he's put up only modest numbers to date, and against SEC defenses he's unlikely to eclipse Ball as the top RB in the nation this year. Thomas also has "electric" game, and can take it to the house regularly, but he also benefits from GREAT blocking, and while fast, isn't really as fast or as dynamic and elusive a runner as Denard is. Him also being a sophomore, and not playing qb will limit his total production in 2012 compared to others in consideration.
My guess for Heisman finalists by seasons end is Barkley, Ball, Smith, and Robinson. Strength of schedule, total production, versatile and "dynamic" production, possibly breaking multiple records, and final season record, I believe, give the edge to Denard.
Currently behind a paywall, ESPN Heisman Predictor has Denard in the top spot...
Here's the link
Robinson maintains lead:
It may seem odd to have a darkhorse such as Robinson still in the lead, but it is important to remember that the Predictor considers only what has happened thus far.
At this point in the season, Michigan's 3-0 start looks the same as Stanford's as far as the Predictor is concerned. Once the undefeated teams start to fall and the BCS standings are released, the true contenders will be begin to rise to the top.
Good to see him up there with Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, and Kellen Moore. Here's to hoping that by the end of the season the Worldwide Leader in Sports will have no choice to remand Heisman Watch to "Just Give Denard the Damn Trophy"
EDIT: Trimmed down some of the copied materials
An interesting read on Denard and what it takes in the transition from the spread on Scout.
I think I have read Brian Griese's comments somewhere before, but this bit:
The benefit is if they develop that running game and give him an opportunity to hand the ball off more, they’ll throw the ball from the pocket with the linebackers and safeties reacting to a real running game. Then they can have the naked game off of that, where he has run/pass options. He has plenty of talent to throw the football to. You could see guys wide open in that kind of an offense because did you fake the ball or did you give it? The linebackers have got to make that read. ‘If he keeps the ball, we’ve got to get back into pass coverage to defend the pass.’ But the third aspect of it is, okay, they did a good job on the run and they did a good job on the pass, so now I’m just going to tuck it and run it myself. That is a dynamic that in that offense as a third read can be so dangerous.
is how I was feeling last year: basically if we had a viable run threat other than Denard, then the three way level of uncertainty that a defense would have to account for, would undo them. (i.e., they wouldn't just have to defend against Denard)
The article says we'll have to be patient in the transition, but both Chad and Brian think Denard will get through it (albeit Chad hasn't met Denard personally). This is in line with my feeling that next year is Denard's year for serious Heisman contention.
ESPN is announcing the Heisman finalists in the next few minutes.
I can haz Denard?
EDIT: Nope. Sad Panda
EDIT II: ...but this happened. So we've got that going for us.
Note: This started as a board post and evolved into something diary worthy (I think). However, bump to the board if need be. Thanks!
So I know that there are 3 games left, and I know that individual awards don't matter in comparison to the team winning games.
And I also know that the Heisman does not go to the best player in college football anymore, but rather to the best player on a top 10 team. Its been that way for a long time.
HOWEVER, I find myself looking at the stats that Denard is continuing to put up and can't help but wonder why he is getting absolutely ZERO consideration after the media explosion that happened earlier in the season.
Let's look at some facts:
Denard leads the nation with 351.44 YPG (ahead of Cam Newton by almost 50 YPG!)
In terms of pure yardage he is 3rd behind Griffin III and Moniz who have each played an additional game.
Denard is 2nd in the nation with 149.89 YPG (behind OR's James at 166.38)
However, he is actually leads James in total yardage with 1349! James is only counted for 8 games because he was suspended for punching his girlfriend against NM, while Denard is counted for 9 despite barely playing against BG and missing close to a half against Iowa and Illinois.
So basically if someone out there was ambitious enough to do a "yards per 60 minutes played," I guarantee Denard would be the nation's leading rusher.
DRob is also 2nd in the nation with 7.37 YPC behind Taylor Martinez and well ahead of James at 6.79.
Denard's Total Passing Yards (1814) are obviously nowhere near the top of any list, but being a duel-threat QB that isn't really relevant (see Total Offense).
However, Denard ranks 11th! in Passer Efficiency Rating (160.90) with Kellen Moore and Cam Newton leading the way.
Denard has 25 total TDS, 12 Rush and 13 Pass.
James has 18 total TDs, Newton has 34, Moore has 22.
Denard has 7 INTs and may 2-3 lost fumbles? So we'll say 10 TOs
James' TO #s are irrelevant (plus I can't find them), Newton has 5 INTs, and Moore has 4 INTs.
So, after looking at those numbers the question becomes: Why is Denard not a Heisman contender any more?
The Answer: Oregon, Auburn, and Boise are undefeated. Plain and simple. If Michigan only had one loss or less and was in the top 10, I would almost guarantee that DRob would still be in the thick of the Heisman race even if his numbers were exactly the same.
Now a lot of people would say, well its not all about the numbers. There are other factors.
And I would agree with them. BUT this is not Timmy Chang, Colt Brennen, or one of the Texas Tech QBs putting up 6000 yards.
We are talking about a sophomore QB on a Big Ten team! Michigan's schedule is no joke, and declaring Denard to be a "system" QB in the line of those mentioned above doesn't seem to fit. What is the system? Passing? Rushing? Scoring? Denard ranks well in every category.
Its just frustrating to me that the media blew up in epic proportions during the first part of the season over Denard, but now they barely give him a mention. I think they definitely gave him too much pub by declaring him the winner after week 4, but I also think they are giving him too little respect at this point in the season.
Denard has numbers comparable or better than every other top Heisman candidate, and he plays a schedule much more difficult than that of Oregon, Boise, and most other teams outside the SEC.
And last but not least lets not forget that he plays on a team FAR worse than those of James, Newton, or Moore. Its funny that Michigan's record is a big part of the reason he is not under consideration when the fact that Michigan is terrible on defense should be an even bigger credit to his abilities.
Newton, James, and Moore are all on teams surrounded by superstars and playmakers, and while Michigan does have an excellent offense, our team as a whole is not very good.
People should realize once again that the Heisman is about the most outstanding player in college football, regardless of record. I know that strength of schedule has to be considered in making that determination, but having a bad team should not count against you.
I'm not saying that Denard should win the Heisman. I think Newton would have my vote at this point. But Denard would be second or third without a doubt in my mind, and I hope that other people are thinking the same thing. The kid deserves it.