Similar to last season, OTP has been asked to cast our official ballot for the SportsBlog Heisman Trophy hosted over at The Blue Workhorse. This season, significantly tougher than last year, mostly because unlike last year, where there was a plethora of very worthy candidates, that’s not really the case in 2009. Perhaps it’s the lack of QBs that are head and shoulders above the pack. Perhaps it’s a lack of a go-to candidate being the driving force behind a team’s national title hopes. Hard to say… but we’ve gone from the QB Triple Threat match of 2009 to a year that a defensive tackle is getting serious consideration as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Strange times that we’re living in.
In terms of OTP’s ballot, I solicited some feedback from Edge and RV, but they are not responsible for the logic here or the ballot that follows. Unless you hate it or vehemently disagree. In that case, it’s all Edge. I looked at this season much the same way as last year, and considered the Heisman Trophy to be a measure of value to the team. Does the team have to be successful? Of course, otherwise the value is diminished. Does the team have to play decent competition? You bet. Otherwise we’d be awarding the Heisman every year to some freak from a mid-major school that just rings up ridiculous statistics against inferior competition. So I consider our ballot to be an evaluation of a player’s results, coupled with the team’s success, that was achieved against opponents of note. Simple, right?
OTP’s Sports Blog Heisman Ballot
1.) Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: To call Toby Gerhart dominant would be a disservice. In fact, I’m not sure adjectives exist to fully grasp the impact that Gerhart had on not only Stanford, but the teams he played against. Considering only his statistics, Gerhart’s 1736 yards and 26 TDs is ridiculous. Taking a further look at how those yards were gained tells a more complete story. The Cardinal went to Gerhart early and often, and he always delivered, including a pounding of Oregon for 223 and 3 TDs. In terms of overall value to the Cardinal, Gerhart was held under 100 yards twice this season, and both were losses for Stanford. It’s safe to say that without Gerhart, this 2009 season for Stanford would have unfolded considerably different and their 8-4 record would have been an unreachable pipe dream, and he clearly excels in the areas of performance, value, and strength of opponents.
2.) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: In years past, being the go to guy on an undefeated national championship contender was a near sure-fire way to garner votes for the Heisman. Mark Ingram unfortunately is overshadowed at times by a killer defense for the Crimson Tide, who collectively are more responsible for the success of Bama than Ingram. His stats, while not as impressive as Gerhart’s, are elevated (at least in my mind) because of who they came against. Running roughshod over the SEC is truly worthy of recognition, and Ingram’s 1542 yards and 15 TDs against some of the best defenses in the country make his stats considerably more impressive than they already are. Ingram did struggle with injuries a bit this season that kept him out of the Auburn game, but did bounce back with a 3 TD performance and critical conversions in the Florida game that helped Bama to the SEC title.
3.) Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: When 2009 dawned, it largely appeared that the Heisman Trophy was Colt McCoy’s to lose. As Tebow was knocked down and out, Bradford was injured, and Texas continued to win it was a virtual certainty that McCoy would add his name to the list of winners. McCoy certainly performed adequately throughout the season, and his team is undefeated and playing for a national championship, but McCoy’s 09 numbers pale in comparison to some other contenders this season and most definitely in comparison to his own numbers from 2008. Having said that, though, you’d be hard pressed to find a player across the country save for Tebow, more valuable than McCoy for his team’s attitude, performance, and success. 3512 yards and 27 TDs are the raw numbers through the air, but often overlooked is McCoy’s ability to scramble and use his legs for conversions, TDs, and keeping opposing defenses in check in critical situations. While the Heisman is a single-year award, there is some level of career achievement fueling McCoy’s votes this season, and I’m ok with that.
This award allows us to give an honorable mention to a candidate that is worthy of some attention even though they didn’t deserve a Top 3 spot on the ballot. Clearly, we could reach down and pick someone obvious like Ndamukong Suh or CJ Spiller, because frankly if our ballot went to 5, they would be there. Instead, we’ll go a bit outside of the box. Fittingly, our honorable mention is also a running back, as 2010 seemed to be dominated by them
Honorable Mention: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: To have a freshman running back succeed at the college level is a rarity. To have a freshman running back dominate is virtually unheard of. To have a freshman running back do all that and never once cough up the football is a rarity so unbelievable that it got Lewis recognized on our ballot. 1640 yards and 16 TDs were Lewis’ totals through the regular season, but more impressive is the amount of times he carried the ball. Lewis went over 20 carries 10 times this season, including a remarkable 47 carries in the season-ender against Cincy. I think it’s safe to say that Pitt has found the next version of LeSean McCoy and their 9-3 season rests solely in the hands of Lewis.
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