The 2013 Heisman Trophy race has boiled down to a comparison of quarterbacks, based on multiple straw polls.
Heading into Saturday’s games, two of the five candidates receiving the most attention lead teams from the Lone Star State: Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner. Both have statement opportunities Saturday in road games against ranked opponents.
No. 4 Baylor (9-0, 6-0 in Big 12) plays at No. 10 Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1) at 7 p.m. in a contest with Big 12 title and BCS bowl implications. No. 12 A&M (8-2, 4-2 in SEC) is at No. 22 LSU (7-3, 3-3) at 2:30 p.m.
Before submitting ballots in December, Heisman voters will listen to coaches, view highlights and examine statistics in efforts to separate Petty and Manziel from their fellow front-runners: Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.
Judgments will be made on how much to weigh off-field issues involving Manziel (NCAA infraction) and Winston (implicated in sexual assault; no charges filed) in comparison to their on-field achievements.
To separate the Heisman hopefuls, we sought the counsel of Gil Brandt, former Dallas Cowboys’ vice-president of player personnel (1960-88) and an NFL.com analyst. Brandt, 80, has graded his share of quarterbacks through the years. He offered tips on stats to consider, stats to dismiss and his personal ranking of the five quarterbacks as NFL prospects in order to help the Star-Telegram create an impartial formula to grade candidates.
Who should win it, in Brandt’s estimation?
“If people were truthful and they didn’t know any background of any of the guys off the field, I think Manziel would win it,” Brandt said.
That does not mean Johnny Football is the quarterback Brandt would select first if building an NFL franchise from scratch.
“If you ask the question, ‘Who is the most talented player?’ it’s the Oregon quarterback,” Brandt said. “Mariota is a smaller version of Cam Newton, with better passing skills than Cam had in college. But then you go and ask yourself, ‘If the Aggies didn’t have Manziel, where would they be?’ The guy is just unbelievable with what he does. The question becomes, ‘Do I vote for the best player or do I vote for the guy that’s helping his team win?’”
That Manziel magic, combined with his FBS-best completion rate (73 percent), would give Manziel the lead on a hypothetical Brandt ballot heading into Saturday games. In terms of NFL potential, Brandt rates the five QBs in this order: Mariota, Manziel, Winston, Petty and McCarron.
For purposes of this exercise, we took eight of the 10 quarterback-related statistics tracked in 2013 by the NCAA, mixed in Brandt’s eyeball test and other parameters he suggested, and ranked the candidates.
For the category of “Championships,” we considered BCS, conference or division titles won (McCarron laps the field) as well as potential 2013 titles by QBs from teams (like Baylor) that lead those races at present. We considered only football-related factors in applying our impartial formula to separate Heisman hopefuls. In some categories, there were ties and points were tweaked accordingly.
Then, we tallied the totals. Lowest score wins, just like in golf.
Based on our formula, the 2013 Heisman Trophy front-runner should be Manziel, by a single point over Petty. Winston would be third, three points behind Manziel with ample opportunities to climb before ballots are due after the games of Dec. 7.
Here is the grid used to reach our conclusion, with each quarterback’s initials corresponding to his statistical efforts:
Grading the Heisman hopefuls
|Pass efficiency||189.6 (3)||206.2 (1)||195.6 (2)||176.2 (4)||162.2 (5)|
|Total offense||392.4 (1)||346.6 (2)||308.3 (4)||329.6 (3)||221.8 (5)|
|Completion percentage||73.0 (1)||65.2 (4)||70.9 (2)||64.2 (5)||67.8 (3)|
|Yards/completion||14.4 (4)||19.7 (1)||15.9 (2)||15.4 (3)||12.6 (5)|
|Points/game||23.4 (1)||22.7 (2)||18.6 (4)||20.4 (3)||12.6 (5)|
|Pass yds/game||331.3 (2)||332.4 (1)||293.8 (3)||281.9 (4)||222.8 (5)|
|Pass TDs||31 (1)||24 (4)||28 (2)||25 (3)||21 (5)|
|Completions/gm||23 (1)||16.9 (5)||18.5 (2)||18.3 (3)||17.7 (4)|
|Championships||N/A (5)||Poss. (4)||Yes (3)||Yes (2)||Yes (1)|
|TDs/INTs||31/11 (4)||24/1 (2)||28/7 (3)||25/0 (1)||21/5 (5)|
|4Q wins||1 (1)||1 (1)||N/A (3)||N/A (3)||N/A (3)|
|Team record||8-2 (5)||9-0 (1)||10-0 (1)||9-1 (4)||10-0 (1)|
Baylor at Oklahoma State
7 p.m. Saturday
|Points per game||61.2||40.4|
|3rd down conv.||52.4||38.9|
|Def. 3rd down conv.||32.7%||32%|
Texas A&M vs. LSU
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Kyle Field
|Points per game||49.2||37.9|
|3rd down conv.||52.9||57.7|
|Def. 3rd down conv.||36.5%||39.2%|