Heisman Watch: Moore, Griffin nip at Luck's heels after strong openers
If first impressions are everything, there's a lot to be said about Robert Griffin.
Griffin looked every bit a candidate as Baylor ended then-No. 14 TCU's 25-game, regular-season winning streak. But this is truly a marathon and Griffin, a former All-America in the 400-meter hurdles -- is just out of the starting blocks.
Give Griffin this: he delivered against a quality opponent. While others feasted on confections, RGIII was dining on meat and it propelled him into the thick of the race. While that certainly means more than a candidate facing a lesser opponent, it doesn't mean we can't learn something from those games.
Case in point: Nebraska's Taylor Martinez.
In a 37-point win over Chattanooga, the sophomore quarterback showed no signs of the toe and ankle injuries that slowed him down last season. But more importantly, we also saw the unveiling of an offense that could be T-Magic's ticket to New York.
Sure, new coordinator Tim Beck's scheme had some kinks. The Cornhuskers averaged two yards on first down and were 9 of 18 on third and Martinez at times looked shaky in the pocket, going 11 of 22 passing. But the no-huddle attack which features plenty of triple-option allowed Martinez to do what he does best: run (135 yards in the win).
Operating in an offense that allows Martinez to audible and freelance should only strengthen his candidacy. As for now, it was a strong statistical opening against an FCS squad, which will only get him so far on this list.
On to this week's rankings. Remember, this list shows how my ballot would look if the season ended today. As a refresher,
By his own standards, Luck wasn't sensational. His longest completion was 17 yards -- the lowest of his 26 career games -- and you have to go back to Week 2 of last season to find the last time he threw for fewer yards. But he didn't exactly hurt his chances or his standing as the frontrunner. After losing his top two receivers from a year ago, Luck distributed the ball effectively, hitting seven of his first 10 passes to seven different receivers. Plus, he put that often-discussed moxie on display, diving head-first to reach the pylon on a 1-yard TD run.
Another year, another statement in a high-profile opener for Moore, who went over 100 touchdown passes for his career. It wasn't that he put on a display of arm strength -- he never threw a pass over 25 yards in the air -- but Moore simply picked apart the Bulldogs secondary to the tune of an 82.3 completion percentage. He hit nine different receivers, including five on one TD drive. The effort was made all the more impressive considering he did it without two receivers who combined for 142 yards last season. He's still trailing Luck, but not by much.
If you weren't hip to RGIII before, you are now. He has always been captivating -- he set or broke 27 Baylor records last season -- but Griffin had yet to deliver a performance like this on a national stage. But given that TCU's defense had lost six starters from 2010, the question remains: does he have staying power? The Bears don't play a currently ranked opponent again until Oct. 15, so we'll be hearing plenty about Griffin, and
He completed 74.5 percent of his passes, re-established his connection with All-America receiver Ryan Broyles and didn't throw a pick. It was exactly the kind of tune-up Jones needed heading into a showdown with sixth-ranked Florida State. Even if he did say he was a
The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner is working on another one. Despite constant double-teams, Blackmon extended his NCAA record of consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards to 13, though he did fail to extend his streak of triple-digit receiving games with a score. The Cowboys step up their level of competition with Arizona coming to Stillwater, but the conditions are right for him to continue his 100-yard game streak; the Wildcats allowed 145 fist-half through the air vs. Northern Arizona, which ranked 68th in FCS in passing offense last season.
After a sluggish start, which included just the second fumble of his Gamecocks career, Lattimore turned it up in the second half, running 13 times for 72 yards and two TDs. Just one game into his second season, he's eight on South Carolina's all-time TD list (20). This week he returns to the matchup that was his national coming out party as S.C. faces Georgia. He could be in for another big day after an already suspect Bulldogs defense will be without one of its key pieces after middle linebacker Alec Ogletree broke his foot in the opener.
It was a return to the Martinez who ran for 870 yards over the first seven weeks of 2010. He scored a rushing TD for the first time since Oct. 7 -- his runs of 43 and 47 yards were the longest since that date -- and went over 100 yards for the first time in six games. But there was concern: Martinez left the game midway through the fourth quarter after tying a career high with 19 carries. After he missed two games last season, and ran for 95 yards over the last five, Nebraska can't afford him not to be at full strength.
Other than hitting the end zone three times, his stats were pretty underwhelming in his debut as the Crimson Tide's No. 1 RB, especially against an opponent that allowed 183 ypg last season. He averaged 2.8 yards per carry, the lowest of any game in which he's had at least 11 touches -- though TD runs of 1, 9 and 1 yard are bound to bring that number down -- and his longest run was for 10 yards. Here's thinking Richardson will get a few more opportunities to show his Heisman worth next week in Happy Valley.
A lightning delay led both schools to call the game with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter, but what we saw of Robinson, and how he fits into the new offense, are enough to keep Shoelace's candidacy afloat. Operating out of the shotgun, he took off on a designed run on the first play, a QB sweep he turned into an 11-yard gain. In all, Robinson ran 26 plays out of the shotgun and 12 from under center. It was a far cry from the 383 yards in last year's opener, but Robinson won't be handcuffed by this scheme.
Is it harsh to put him 10th? Maybe. One game can't kill a campaign, but it may take a while to make up for this one. Playing against what is likely the best defense he'll see all season, James failed to live up to the moment. It was just the third time in the 19 regular-season games he was held under 100 yards, but considering the last time we saw James he was limited to 54 yards by Auburn, that makes two spotlight games in which he's faltered. He's had his mulligan and needs to get back on track this weekend.