Welcome to UHND’s Heisman Watch. We are now five games into the season and Jimmy Clausen has firmly planted himself as one of the top three Heisman candidates in country according to most college football pundits. And while Clausen is arguably the best quarterback in the nation statistically, the life of this column, his invitation to New York City and receipt of the greatest individual trophy in sports rests on his performance and the outcome of the matchup between Clausen’s 4-1 Irish team and #7 USC on October 17th.
According to The Heisman Pundit, one of the foremost authorities on the Heisman Trophy, there are four candidates who still realistically have a chance to win the award. This week, we’ll compare those candidates up to this point in the season.
2009 Heisman Watch Statistics
|Att||Comp||Pct||Yards||YPG (Rank)||Yds/Att||TD (Rank)||Int||Rating (Rank)||Rush Yds||Rush TD||Sagarin SOS|
|Jimmy Clausen||148||100||67.6||1544||308.8 (6)||10.4||12 (7)||2||179.3 (1)||-45||0||36|
|Jacory Harris||112||69||61.6||1008||252.0 (24)||9.0||8 (32)||5||151.9 (24)||-61||1||1|
|Colt McCoy||145||103||71.0||1145||286.2 (12)||7.9||9 (21)||5||151.0 (25)||61||1||90|
|Tim Tebow||68||44||64.7||643||160.8 (NR)||9.5||5 (56)||1||170.3 (3)||271||5||107|
Florida and Texas are the top two teams in the country and Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy are the best players on their teams. The Heisman Trophy mission is to present the award the most outstanding player in college football. While a healthy Tebow might be considered one of the best college football players of all-time, 2009 has not been healthy for Tebow and his strength of schedule is abominable with bouts against Sun Belt foe Troy and high school Division II opponent Charleston Southern.
McCoy’s candidacy seems more like a career achievement award and if the statistical trend continues as it has, then awarding McCoy the trophy would only diminish the integrity of the award.
Jacory Harris is an intriguing candidate because his team has played the toughest schedule in the country thus far, opening the season against four ranked teams. The last team to open a season with four ranked opponents was Notre Dame in 2000. But in Miami’s only loss against Virginia Tech, Harris was 9-for-25 (36%) for 150 yards and an interception – certainly not a Heisman-type performance.
Which is why Clausen’s performance against USC is so critical. In 2005, in a losing effort, Brady Quinn vaulted himself into Heisman consideration with a performance against Southern Cal leading the Irish on a go-ahead touchdown drive and scoring himself with just over two minutes to go in the game. Quinn’s numbers were a little better than average in that game, but it was his poise and leadership that got him the attention. Clausen already has four, fourth quarter, go-ahead drives this season (Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Washington). He has also been playing while battling turf toe since the Michigan State game. If Clausen can produce like he has all season, especially if the Irish win, he is in the driver’s seat for the trophy. If Clausen struggles like Harris did against Virginia Tech or if the Irish get blown out, this column will die along with Clausen’s Heisman chances.
Taking a look around the national media this week, I’ve gathered the following Heisman coverage.
Jon Saunders said on today’s College Football Live on ESPN that Colt McCoy is his number one candidate so far. He said his problem with Clausen is that their schedule is not strong enough to get him the trophy. As noted above, Clausen’s strength of schedule is 36 and McCoy’s is 90. Also on College Football Live, the following analysts gave their votes.
- Kirk Herbstreit’s leading candidates – 1. Clausen, Notre Dame; 2. Gerhart, Stanford; 3. McCoy, Texas
- Trevor Matich’s leading candidates – 1. Clausen, Notre Dame; 2. Tebow, Florida; 3. McCoy, Texas; 4. Harris, Miami; 5. Pike, Cincinnati
- Desmond Howard’s leading candidates – 1. McCoy, Texas; 2. Tebow, Florida; 3. Pike, Cincinnati; 4. Harris, Miami; 5. Gilyard, Cincinnati
- ESPN’s Heisman Experts Poll – A 15 person panel of college football experts currently has Tebow, McCoy and Clausen topping the list.
- The Heisman Pundit Poll – The Heisman Pundit Heisman Poll consists of 13 Heisman voters and submits their opinions if the vote were held today. The top three are Tebow, McCoy and Clausen. Irish wide receiver Golden Tate earned a few votes as well.
- Sports Illustrated Heisman Watch – Gene Menez of Sports Illustrated and his weekly watch list has Tebow, Clausen and McCoy.
- CBS Sports Heisman Hopefuls – A panel of five pundits give their Heisman picks and the overall consensus has Clausen, Tebow and Pike.
- Sporting News Heisman watch – Matt Hayes of the Sporting News has Clausen outside the top three
- Winners & Losers – Tom Dienhart of Rivals has Tebow, McCoy and Clausen.
- Sports Illustrated on Clausen’s Heisman chances – Steward Mandel discusses the Heisman.
- CBS Sports on Clausen and the Irish – Dennis Dodd takes a look at Clausen’s performances so far and the Irish showdown against the Trojans.
- ESPN: Clausen should stay at ND – Joe Theismann tells ESPN Radio he thinks Clausen should stay for his senior year.