Daily staff predicts Heisman vote

Dec. 7, 2011, 1:46 a.m.


Before Saturday’s Heisman Trophy ceremony, five Daily sports staffers give their opinions on who will hoist the hardware in New York.


Miles Bennett-Smith:


Robert Griffin III has put on an unbelievable show this season, throwing for 3,998 yards with 36 touchdowns against just six interceptions and adding nine TDs and over 500 yards on the ground. He tore up TCU, Oklahoma and Texas and threw for 1,201 yards in Baylor’s three losses. That’s stupid good, and I think his stats have enough voters drooling to carry him to the trophy. But the reason he doesn’t get my vote is because of what happened two weeks ago when the Bears throttled Texas Tech—with RG3 on the sideline. This Baylor offense is a machine, and I firmly believe as good as Griffin is, the video-game stats come from the fact that he has speedy wideouts in a spread system and has to throw all day because the defense isn’t even mediocre—it gave up fewer than 24 points one time all season, against the vaunted Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin. And although I predict that it will, that shouldn’t be enough to put the trophy on your mantle.


And while this might make some of you here upset, I’m sorry, but I don’t think Andrew Luck is the best candidate for this year’s award. Toby Gerhart was robbed two years ago, but Luck simply hasn’t been as sharp as I think he needed to be since the USC game. His numbers are nice to look at and he is clearly the best quarterback playing on Saturdays, but I would not characterize very many of his games this season as “outstanding performances.” Winning has been his and the team’s goal this season, and he is hurt by playing in a system that runs so efficiently, but I think he could have been even greater with what he was working with.


Although he likely won’t win it, I would cast my vote for Trent Richardson as the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. Along with his impressive overall stats, he came up big in games all year long—even in the Crimson Tide’s sole defeat, he accounted for 169 yards of total offense against the best defense in the country.


So while there are about six players who should be in a heated conversation for the award, and I think Richardson is the one who deserves it, it’s my bet that you’ll see RG3 with tears of joy on his cheeks Saturday night.


Prediction: 1. Robert Griffin III, 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Trent Richardson



Joseph Beyda:


I’ll admit that I haven’t watched either Richardson or Griffin III play a full game. East Coast sportswriters who voted in 2009: let’s call it even.


But seriously, Luck has it all. I won’t (rather, don’t have enough space to) explain what I mean by that, though David Shaw went out of his way to do so last week if you needed a reminder. Given enough time to percolate, I think Shaw’s extensive comments on Luck’s play-calling abilities are going to have their desired effect on voters nationwide. Last year we were talking about Owen Marecic’s two-way skills in the age of one-way players; now we’re talking about a guy who’s practically a player-coach given how much larger his role is than those of most collegiate athletes.


It’s going to be much closer than any of us would hope, thanks to the uncalled-for blowback from Luck’s letdown against Oregon, which wasn’t really that terrible, to be honest. But Richardson and Griffin III also lost the biggest games of their respective seasons. Stanford’s battered receiving corps certainly didn’t help Luck, and hopefully the same East Coast-biased pundits who were making a huge deal of this in the preseason to try to debunk the Cardinal’s national contender status won’t have forgotten Luck’s limited targets.


And I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before, but Luck definitely deserves some significant credit for coming back to school. Not to knock Richardson or Griffin III, but positive role models are crucial in a college sports era filled with scandals.


Luck is the logical choice, the deservedly hyped-up poster boy of college football and unquestionably the best player in the country. My gut feeling is that enough voters will recognize that. If so, Stanford will have its second Heisman winner; if not, it will likely become the first school in history to field three straight runner-ups. And if Luck somehow drops below second, Cardinal fans would be more than justified in unplugging their TV sets.


Prediction: 1. Andrew Luck, 2. Trent Richardson, 3. Robert Griffin III



Jack Blanchat:


After watching a lot of football this season, I can truly say it’s harder than I can ever remember to come up with someone who deserves this year’s Heisman Trophy. I don’t know how you pick a winner, but I’ll try. While I think Andrew Luck is the best player and far and away the best pro prospect in the country, I believe the award for the nation’s “most outstanding player” deserves to go to Robert Griffin. When you look at his stats, they’re all substantially better than Luck’s—more touchdowns, more passing yards, more rushing yards, fewer interceptions—and he’s had several big wins and “Heisman moments” in big games. Unfortunately for Luck, his season came down to just one game—if the Cardinal beats Oregon, he’s the winner without a doubt. I just don’t see the voters leaving Griffin off their ballots after his remarkable season, and that should be enough to carry him to the podium in New York City.


Prediction: 1. Robert Griffin III, 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Trent Richardson/Tyrann Mathieu



Jacob Jaffe:


A week ago, I was completely set on my belief that somehow Trent Richardson was going to sneak ahead of Andrew Luck to claim the Heisman Trophy and force Stanford into its third-straight runner-up finish.


After Saturday’s games, I’m forced to revise my opinion, but one thing has not changed: Luck will still be the Cardinal’s third straight second-place finisher. However, my firm belief that the Heisman race was down to Richardson and Luck was rocked by the surge in support for Robert Griffin III after his demolition of the previously formidable Texas defense.


Mark Ingram played on the last weekend in 2009 while Toby Gerhart didn’t, and that cost Gerhart the Heisman. In this case, RG3 played while Richardson and Luck didn’t, and that could be the difference once again. After being a distant third in the race just a few weeks ago, Griffin has made himself the clear favorite, even stating on national television that he will win. I haven’t seen anything that would make me disagree. He’s got the numbers (gaudy yardage and touchdown totals through the air and on the ground, about to set the NCAA single-season record for passing efficiency), the charisma (he actually gives good interviews) and the Heisman moments (season-opening thriller over TCU, stunning upset of Oklahoma).


Luck should slot in at second because Richardson will lose too many votes to Montee Ball and Tyrann Mathieu, the other two finalists who played (and played well) on the final weekend.


Prediction: 1. Robert Griffin III, 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Trent Richardson



Zach Zimmerman:


It’s hard for me to consider the possibility of having a member of Stanford football finish runner-up in three straight seasons, but I’d be a fool not to. Andrew Luck is, and I say this without any hesitation, the best player in the country. The Heisman Trophy doesn’t care. The voting guidelines for the award are as nonsensical as the BCS, and the subjective nature of the process makes it nearly impossible to predict what will happen from year to year. Will Luck get his fair share of first-place votes? Absolutely. Does he have the numbers to win over the hearts of the statistics-obsessed voters? Not a chance. I wholeheartedly support and agree with David Shaw’s last-minute push for his quarterback, but if the past two years are any indication, it may be too little, too late. Luck goes home empty-handed once again, this time as the victim of a number-padding system.


Prediction: 1. Robert Griffin III, 2. Andrew Luck, 3. Trent Richardson


The Daily Sports Staff is the collective moniker of an overworked, beleaguered, underpaid collection of sportswriters that feel comfortable enough with their own self-identities to give up any sense of individualism for the good of the sports section. To contact The Daily Sports Staff, send an email to the managing editor(s) of the sports staff (sports 'at' stanforddaily.com), keepers of the souls of those sportswriters.

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