Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Geno Smith hasn't already won the Heisman

So I clicked on a Heisman Pundit link last week and noticed that his straw poll (which is usually an uber-accurate indicator of actual voting since the straw-poll voters are all actual voters) had Geno Smith with a lot of points, Collin Klein with a lot fewer points and then a whole bunch of guys with a point or two or three. Said bunch of guys definitely included E.J. Manuel and De'Anthony Thomas and maybe Marqise Lee and Manti Te'o; Matt Barkley was not present, meaning he had zero votes.

The post-West Virginia Insane Numbers poll isn't posted yet but presumably looks similar since lol 20 touchdowns no interceptions wwwhheeeeeee. Right now, Geno Smith deserves (and is getting) ALL OF THE VOTES. Matt Barkley probably doesn't deserve any.

But here's the thing:

9/01/2012       MARSHALL (W 69-34)
9/15/2012       JAMES MADISON (W 42-12)
9/22/2012       MARYLAND (W 31-21)
9/29/2012       BAYLOR (W 70-63)
10/06/2012     @ Texas            
10/13/2012     @ Texas Tech            
10/20/2012     KANSAS ST.            
11/03/2012     TCU            
11/10/2012     @ Oklahoma St.            
11/17/2012     OKLAHOMA       
11/23/2012     @ Iowa St.            
12/01/2012     KANSAS

Bolded for emphasis. West Virginia has played four games, none of which was against a team that's gonna end the year ranked; the five most meaningful games on the schedule have yet to be played. Smith's quarter-pole statistical hilarity has become pretty much ephemeral but will be immediately rendered X arbitrary percentage points less impressive as soon as West Virginia loses a game, which will almost definitely happen (maybe two or three times) in the next six weeks. The question is whether his primarily numbers-based resume at the end is gonna be so good that the losses won't matter (unless West Virginia doesn't have any losses, in which case it's gonna be a Desmond Howard-esque obliteration come vote-tallying time).

The obvious comparison everybody's been throwing out: RGIII, who had similarly ridonkulous numbers last year and ended up winning the thing despite his team going 9-3 because (a) he continued having ridonkulous numbers all year and (b) there was no obvious alternative. And as for the 9-3 thing, keep in mind that Baylor's last loss last year was in October against Oklahoma State, and that was followed up a couple weeks later with maybe the statistical performance of the year (considering the level of competition), when RGIII went off against Oklahoma for 479 yards and four touchdowns, the last of which was a Season-Defining Moment TM and probably the play that won him the Heisman. There was also the regular-season finale against Texas, a game in which RGIII accounted for four touchdowns in a 24-point Baylor win. As for the aforementioned lack of obvious alternatives, the other guys last year were Andrew Luck, who was pretty unimpressive against Oregon in a three-touchdown loss in the one Stanford game everybody watched (and was doing literally nothing while RGIII was destroying Texas), and Trent Richardson, who didn't do anything of significance in SEC Game of the Millennium I, scored three total touchdowns in November and didn't have a conference championship game to strengthen his case.

Will there be an obvious alternative this year? I have no idea. It's four weeks into the season. E.J. Manuel had almost 500 yards last week against Clemson and will have meaningful November games against Virginia Tech and Florida (and won't have to be that great to get a sizable chunk of the Best Player on the Best Team vote). Aaron Murray's gonna have some crazy-for-the-SEC numbers on a team that might be 12-0 and playing Bama for a spot in the national title game about the time most people are sending in their ballots. Matt Barkley might be this year's Andrew Luck but also might have USC at 12-1 and playing for the title pending a couple wins over Oregon and a win over a top-10-ish version of Notre Dame, and a couple wins over Oregon and a win over a top-10-ish version of Notre Dame would be more than sufficient for a cumulative "oh hai Matt Barkley he's good mmm song girls."

Anyway, identifying a hypothetically obvious alternative isn't as important as establishing the possibility of an obvious alternative. There might be one; there might not, in which case any alternative will do if necessary. Whether it will matter is largely up to Smith and, to some extent, West Virginia (again, all of this is moot if West Virginia runs the table).

A couple good points from Heisman Pundit:
Projecting his stats out to the whole regular season, he’s on pace for 5,184 passing yards and 60 touchdown passes (and no interceptions). If he comes anywhere close to those numbers come December, the Heisman is his, simple as that. ...

By throwing for so many yards and touchdowns against Baylor, it gave him some statistical wiggle room as the season progresses. Smith essentially crammed two games worth of numbers into one game, which means it’s almost like he’s playing 13 regular season games instead of 12. 
Agreed on both counts; losing a couple games 67-63 won't stop him from winning the Heisman considering (a) the mind-bottling numbers he'll finish with and (b) the lead he's already established among most of the voters. The aforementioned arbitrary-percentage-points drop in the collective hive mind won't be significant if the numbers he's starting from are laughably superior to everybody else's. But doing what Luck did last year and putting up a couple meh performances in losses to Texas/Oklahoma/whoever might stop him from winning it by making the hypothetically obvious alternative the preferable alternative.

To be clear, I don't think that'll happen. I'd rather be Smith (from a Heisman-winning standpoint) than any of the other dudes right now; I'd also much rather be Looper-ed about six weeks into the future, at which point I'd be able to assess what's actually happened in the Games That Matter rather than extrapolating from four largely meaningless games and comparing said extrapolated resumes to the extrapolated resumes of a bunch of guys whose quality/significance/value has yet to be sufficiently determined.

Upshot: September does not a season make.


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