Heisman Watch: 5 Reasons Johnny Manziel Won’t Repeat Even Though He Should
Heisman Watch: 5 Reasons Johnny Manziel Won’t Repeat But Should
No one will argue that Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel is failing to follow his extraordinary freshman season with a very successful sophomore year. In some areas, in fact, he’s clearly ahead of where he was last year. Manziel has improved tremendously as a passer – his passing efficiency, completion percentage, passing yards per game and number of touchdown passes are all improved.
Furthermore, his team is 8-2 and ranked 11th in the BCS standings. All things considered, things are going pretty darn good for Manziel and A&M. If Johnny Football becomes only the second player in NCAA football history to win two Heisman Trophies, 2013 will go from good to historic.
At the moment, however, Florida State’s Jameis Winston is stealing the headlines from Manziel and sitting at the top of the list of Heisman candidates (for now, pending an ongoing criminal investigation). He’s been the media darling of 2013 (other than said investigation), his team is undefeated and ranked No. 2, and he has a catchy nickname, Famous Jameis, to boot.
Right now it’s pretty much two-way Heisman race between Manziel and Winston. The A&M QB currently averages 3,924 total yards and 39 total touchdowns, both best in the nation. He’s a better QB than he was last year, as shown by his stats, yet for some reason he still trails Winston in the Heisman rankings.
Manziel and the Aggies still have two huge road games remaining, at No. 22 LSU and No. 8 Missouri, offering the reigning Heisman winner some late-season opportunities to dazzle voters across the nation and claim the prestigious award for a second-straight season.
Alas, it’s not going to happen. Manziel won’t join Ohio State’s Archie Griffin as the only other dual Heisman winner, even though he probably should (assuming he plays well in the final two games). Here’s five reasons why.
5. Lack of Marquee Wins
What Manziel’s accomplished on the stat sheet he lacks in the wins column. His best two games came against No. 1 Alabama (562 total YDs, 4 TDs) and then No. 24 Auburn (502 total YDs, 5 TDs), both of which A&M lost. Considering his numbers, it’s not fair to blame Manziel for the results of those games, but he did have some costly interceptions in each game. It’s also naïve to think Heisman voters don’t consider wins and losses when choosing between candidates. A&M’s best win so far is at Ole Miss, 41-38. As previously mentioned, the Aggies have two huge games remaining. If Manziel puts up big numbers and leads A&M to wins over LSU and Missouri, he could easily turn this weakness into a strength. Beating those teams, however, will be easier said than done.
4. Ground to a Halt
Manziel is not gaining nearly as many rushing yards or scoring nearly as many rushing touchdowns as he did last season when he led the SEC in those categories. Some might say the decline in his rushing production is a result his improvement as a passer, and that’s certainly a valid argument. Still, his 611 yards and eight touchdowns are nowhere close to his SEC-leading 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago. It was his dynamic ability to put up huge numbers and make electrifying plays as both a passer and rusher that forced voters’ hands last season. It could be that he’s trying not to risk injury by running less, but whatever the reason, his rushing stats won’t help him as much this year even though they’re better than any other candidate’s. There are some other great passers out there this year, and Manziel might not be able to outdo them with just his arm.
3. Texas A&M’s Defense
The Aggies are 11 points away from being undefeated, with the only losses coming against No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Auburn, which are 20-1 combined. Not too shabby. But if the A&M defense wasn’t the worst in the SEC, Manziel and Co. could be 10-0 and sitting atop the BCS Standings. In that scenario, he would be the prohibitive favorite to win a second Heisman. Unfortunately, he’s being weighed down by a pretty poor defensive unit that has kept A&M out of title contention. That could end up (unfairly) hurting Manziel’s chances, as all of the other top candidates are in the hunt for at least a conference championship.
2. One and Done
It’s no coincidence that there’s only been one repeat Heisman winner, Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, who claimed the trophy in 1974 and 1975. If you’re betting, the smart money says there will never be another two-time winner. Here are just a few of the amazing players who had a chance to pull it off but couldn’t: Doak Walker of SMU, Roger Staubach of Navy, Billy Sims of Oklahoma, Herschel Walker of Georgia, Ty Detmer of BYU and Tim Tebow of Florida. Simply put, it’s exceedingly difficult to put together two-straight Heisman-worthy seasons. And even with Manziel’s impressive numbers, voters will tend to lean toward fresh faces, as has been proven time and again.
1. Mike Evans
The guy who helps Manziel put up ridiculous numbers on the field could also be the guy that hurts his Heisman voting numbers. The Aggies’ top receiver could “split” the vote with Manziel among A&M supporters and regional voters, and rightfully so. Evans is third nationally with 1,263 yards and fourth with 12 touchdowns. He’s also one of the game’s best big-play threats, averaging 22.2 yards per reception. Not to mention he’s broken a few school records along the way. Here’s what head coach Kevin Sumlin told the Associated Press: “I’m puzzled why Mike Evans isn’t in the Heisman race. I think he’s as good a player as there is in the country.” Evans probably won’t make a serious push to win the award, but the votes he receives would likely otherwise go to Manziel.