Monday, November 17

The Wrong Gator in the Heisman Race

Tim Tebow's seventeen touchdowns in his last four games has some people trying to put him back in the Heisman race. Despite saying his vote is currently with Colt McCoy, even Tebow has not ruled out voting for himself. Regardless of how he votes, it's too little too late. His passing stats lag far behind the big four from the Big XII, and his rushing numbers remain well below last season. The 2007 season saw him make history not only as the first sophomore to win the Heisman, but also with his 32 passing and 23 rushing touchdowns. This year, however, his numbers are artificially inflated and he's not even the best candidate for Heisman on his team. Seriously.

These days Gainesville seems a lot like West Canaan, Texas. In Varsity Blues, Jon Voight refused to give Coyotes' RB Wendell Brown the ball near the goal line. As part of the beginning of the mutiny, Brown makes Mox (James Van Der Beek) aware of their coach's bias:

"Do you now how many touchdowns I have? Three! That's only because I broke for over twenty yards each time. If we're inside the five [coach] gives the ball to Lance (the QB) or some white receiver."
The comparison is not to insenuate that Urban Meyer is in any way racist, but when the ball is inside the five, there is little disputing that they are trying to get Tebow the score. This season began with the Florida coaching staff wanting to protect Tebow by having him rushing less. That plan lasted approximately one week. In their first game, against Hawai'i, both Brandon James and Cameron Newton had one-yard TD runs. Since that game, Tebow has had eight of his eleven rushing touchdowns from three yards or less, and only one longer than eight yards. The other six who have scored rushing touchdowns for Florida have a combined six from inside the three. Of those, three came with Florida up by more than 42 points. One came after two failed Tebow attempts from the two-yard line and another came in the closing minutes of a 30-point blowout. After their first game, only two meaningful rushing touchdowns of less than five yards, were scored by anyone but Tebow and only one with Tebow not having multiple attempts to score. Last season, the Heisman-winner led the Gators in passing and rushing so it was difficult to dispute that he deserved to punch the ball in. This season, however, Tebow is fourth on the team in rushing. His three teammates ahead of him, Percy Harvin, Jeffery Demps, and Chris Rainey have scored fifteen combined rushing touchdowns, but their average runs for each score: 21.85, 45.2, and 37 yards, respectively. Demps's five scores have all come from more than 35 yards away. The result of the preferential treatment for Tebow has resulted in his rushing totals appearing gaudier than they truly are.

Last year, Tebow had nine games gaining over 50 yards on the ground, eight with over fifteen attempts, and ten rushing touchdowns over three yards. This year, he's averaging a yard less per carry, has been over 50 yards only twice, and zero games with more than fifteen attempts. In eleven of the Gators' games last season, Tebow was either the leading rusher or the second leading rusher. This year, he's been third or lower in seven of the team's ten games. The rushing touchdowns may help raise Tebow's stock in the eyes of some voters, but the majority of his scores are no more impressive than Graham Harrell's six rushing scores, all from the one-yard line.

In addition to the numbers, both of Texas Tech's Heisman candidates came up huge in their season defining moment. In Florida's, Tebow was stuffed on a 4th and 1 against Ole Miss, leading to their only loss. With big games ahead for both teams, there's a chance all candidates will have new season-defining moments, but as it stands now, the advantage in all areas point to candidates other than Tebow.

There's little doubt that Urban Meyer would love to have a two-time Heisman trophy winning quarterback on his resume. He would be the only coach with that recruiting chip and telling any high school quarterback he's got an opportunity to compete at the highest level, win national championships, and win (multiple) Heismans would be a hell of a sales pitch. Blinded by his adoration for Tebow, Coach Meyer missed a tremendous opportunity to have two Heisman trophy winners.

Percy Harvin has been one of the most electric overlooked players in the country and the offensive MVP for the Florida Gators. Harvin has caught seven touchdowns and rushed for seven more. He averages a gaudy 9.2 yards per carry as well as 15.7 yards per reception.With the incredible numbers being put up by quarterbacks in the Big XII even if Meyer chose to feature Harvin, he would be by no means a shoe-in for the trophy, but he'd make a compelling case. Some “experts” maintain that the Big XII lacks any defense and defer to the SEC as the gold standard of college football. The only other non-quarterback in the Heisman discussion, Michael Crabtree, also in the defenseless Big XII, has only 18 more total yards than Harvin. The separation lies mostly in touchdowns, where Percy trails Michael by four. If Coach Meyer had prioritized getting Harvin the ball inside the five instead of Tebow, its possible Harvin could be even (or better) with Crabtree. Just as Tebow won the Heisman by leading Florida in passing and rushing, Harvin leads the Gators in rushing and receiving. With Florida regarded as playing in a tougher conference and quickly becoming a fashionable pick for the BCS championship, there is little reason Percy Harvin shouldn't be the Gator in the 2008 Heisman discussion. Urban Meyer would love to get Tim Tebow his second Heisman, but getting two different players a Heisman would've been an equally useful recruiting tool (it seems to be working well for Pete Carroll). Unfortunately for Coach Bud Kilmer Meyer and the Gators, his devotion to his quarterback has cost his best (offensive) player a legitimate shot at the Heisman.

1 comment:

Cleet said...

I don't want...your life.