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Will the Heisman Trophy Come to Oregon?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

 

Heisman Trophy. Photo Credit: Robert J. La Verghetta, CC

While it’s hard enough finding consensus on the best quarterback within the state - rightfully so, Mark Helfrich and Mike Riley both side with their own guy - is it also conceivable that the nation’s best player might reside here as well?

Or rather, can someone from Oregon, say U of O's Marcus Mariota, or maybe OSU's Sean Mannion, win the Heisman Trophy this season?

“That’s to be determined,” said Helfrich, laughing.

As great as Mariota was a season ago, his injury overshadowed everything. It’s hard to believe, but he threw for nearly 3,700 yards and 31 touchdowns (against just four interceptions) and ran for 700 more yards and nine touchdowns in 2013, doing so for an 11-win team…

And still didn’t even finish in the Top 10 of Heisman voting.

Yet, he’s the man to watch, according to Chris Huston, creator and publisher of HeismanPundit.com.

Will the Ducks lay an egg?

“Marcus Mariota is the Heisman front-runner, but to win he must help his team meet expectations while performing at a high level in big games against Stanford, UCLA and Michigan State,” wrote Huston in an e-mail. “If he has the kind of statistical season he had last year and manages to stay injury-free, he should win so long as the Ducks don't lay any eggs.”

It’s hard to see, then, how Mannion has a chance, but Riley has a plan.

“Yes, Sean can win it, but two things have to happen for sure,” he said. “One, we have to develop the receiving corps around him better than it is today - I can tell you that for sure.

"And the other thing is we have to run the ball better. We have to take some heat off of him. I learned a long time ago from (former USC coach) John Robinson that we don’t want to go into a game, roll the ball out there and say, ‘Go win the game for us, Sean.’

“We want to help him. One way is by running the ball better than we did a year ago.”

Go figure - Huston wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as Riley regarding Mannion’s chances, although there might be a silver lining.

“Odds are strongly against Mannion winning the Heisman, mainly because he set such a high standard with his play last season,” he wrote. “It's hard to top 4,600 yards and 37 touchdown passes, especially with the loss of Brandin Cooks. But if Mannion somehow elevates his play and leads the Beavers to the North Division title, he'll be on his way to New York as a Heisman finalist.”

To recap - and it should be noted, it’s Aug. 27 - the Heisman is Mariota’s to lose, but Mannion could be invited to New York.

Photo:"Cappelletti Heisman Trophy" by Robert J. La Verghetta - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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