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Heisman contenders shine in Week 1

September 6, 2012

Most Heisman candidates for the 2012 season are quarterbacks, which makes sense since 10 quarterbacks have won the stiff-arming statue in the new millenium. Some are future pros (Matt Barkley) while others are exciting dual-threat machines (Denard Robinson). Others play in offense-friendly conferences (Landry Jones) while others play in defense-focused conferences (Tyler Wilson).

And while it’s still way too early to say anyone has lost his shot at winning the trophy, let alone attending the trophy presentation ceremony in New York, it’s always fun to look at the numbers put up by those you expect great things from as well as those who come from under the radar, like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III.

Preseason favorite Matt Barkley threw for 372 yards, the fifth most in any game last weekend. While he wasn’t very efficient, completing only 60.5 percent of his throws, he was able to connect with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, both dark-horse Heisman candidates themselves, for three of his four touchdowns.

Geno Smith made Barkley look like Tim Tebow, as he completed 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and four TDs as West Virginia put up 69 points. That means the Mountaineers are averaging 69.5 points in their last two games. One of those games was a BCS bowl game, too. Like Barkley, Smith has a dynamic duo of wide receivers in Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Bailey and Austin combined for 19 catches, 157 yards and three TDs Saturday. Austin, one of the fastest players in the country, also ran for 66 yards.

A guy who could probably beat Austin in a foot race, DeAnthony Thomas didn’t disappoint in his first game after an exciting freshman year. Thomas scored three total touchdowns and had 119 total yards on only seven touches. Not to be outdone by his own teammate, Marcus Mariota, a freshman, threw three touchdowns on 18-of-22 passing for 200 yards. He also ran for 24 yards on six carries. The Heisman race – Barkley vs Thomas vs Mariota – could come down to whomever wins the Pac-12 Championship Game, figuring USC and Oregon match up there.

Another QB who’ll have an opportunity to possibly showcase his skills in a conference championship game is Taylor Martinez, Nebraska’s junior quarterback. Martinez, who struggled with, well, everything in his first two seasons, had probably the best game of his career Saturday against a Southern Miss defense that ranked 29th last year. Martinez threw for 354 yards and completed over 75 percent of his passes. He threw five TDs, and while he didn’t do much damage with his legs – which has been his best asset in previous seasons – if he can put up rushing stats similar to what he’s done in past seasons to go along with what appears to be better normal quarterbacking he could find his way to New York.

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From → College Football

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