As the Congressional primary elections come to a close, college football’s Heisman race is just getting into third gear. On Saturday a few athletes unofficially launched their 2010 campaigns.  However, an unlucky few Heisman were forced to withdraw from the ballot and deliver concession speeches after very poor showings.

Colin Kaepernick

Friday night, Nevada’s 52-31 win over Cal put another dent in the BCS’ failing invulnerability.  In the process, Colin Kaepernick also continued the 2010 trend of dual threat quarterbacks singlehandedly dismantling defenses.  While, Cam Newton, Taylor Martinez, Denard Robinson and Robert Griffin lead the revolution, Colin Kaepernick has been in the outside looking in, for 3 years despite being the only player in the nation to pass for 2,000+ yards and rush for 1,000+  in consecutive seasons.

In this, his senior season, Kaepernick has been arguably the most impressive dual threat in the nation.  Navigating the Wolfpack’s Pistol offense Kaepernick has thrown for 728 yards and galloped for 369 on the ground.

At 6’6, Kaepernick is an obvious disciple of the Vince Young Quarterback School.  After throwing for 306 yards in the season opener, Kaepernick rushed for 140 plus yards in consecutive games including 148 against Cal.  It wasn’t just the fact that they won, but how their victory was earned.  Nevada has scored 49 or more in all three games this season.  Nevada’s win on the limbs of Kaepernick wasn’t earth shattering by any means but hopefully it puts the nation on notice.   On Friday, November 26, Nevada invites Boise State into their home for a potential “BCS-busting, busting” upset.  A great way to earn a New York would be to beat Boise State and gain revenge for the shoelace tackle that gave him a 69-67 loss in his first start.

Jake Locker (Slipped out the Race)

One week ago, Oregon stamped their names all over Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium and threw their Pro-Combat Nike hats into the national championship race.  This Saturday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers marked their territory on every corner of the Huskies home stadium.

While the Huskers earned themselves a few Coaches Poll voters, Jake Locker dropped a grade or two—or three in the eyes of NFL scouts and coaches.  Locker displayed no pocket presence, not much explosion as a runner and looked more confused reading the defense than Fantasia Barrino, skimming the New York Times.

In a memorably inept performance, Locker let his Heisman and perhaps his #1 overall pick aspirations slip away.  The final statline: 4 for 20, 71 yards, 1 touchdown, a pair of interceptions as well as 11 carries for 59 yards and another touchdown.  The kid once touted as the West Coast Tim Tebow has now lost 22 of his 31 games as a Huskie starter.

Jared Crick

Quarterback Taylor Martinez is gathering the acclaim but it’s defensive tackle, Jared Crick, whose gobbling up ball carriers and quarterbacks.  With Suh, gone Crick was expected to fill the void left behind by Heisman finalist Ndamukong Suh.  While Suh earned a Heisman invitation, Crick accumulated 70 tackles and 9 tackles from the tackle position to the sound of a crickets in the gallery.  The Sporting News’ pre-season edition had Crick listed as their top player in the nation.  Crick made it his personal mission to halt Locker’s Heisman candidacy by sacking the dual threat Huskie, three times Saturday.

Jerrod Johnson (Slipped out the Race)

Against 0-2, Florida International, Johnson threw half as many interceptions as he did in all of 2009 and completed 35.5 percent of his passes.  Texas A&M Jerrod Johnson would have a hard enough time, garnering accolades and recognition on a team which didn’t even qualify for a bowl game last season but last night’s four interception raffle giveaway to Florida International will hang over his resume all season.  It was a rough note for an otherwise outstanding player with a character to match.  In the brouhaha over Tebow, Johnson’s character and upbringing has been mysteriously been glossed over in comparison.

Even Johnson, however, can’t escape the propensity for NFL scouts to convert black quarterbacks into receivers and running backs.  Despite passing for 3,500 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions in ’09 scouts consider the 6’5, 245 pound Johnson an outstanding prospect at tight end.

Geno Smith

I realize Geno Smith hasn’t entered conference play yet, but through 3 games, I haven’t seen anything which could prevent him from achieving similar success in the Big East.  Last week, Geno led the Mountaineers to a furious comeback against Marshall and carried his hot streak into a matchup with their rival Terps.

Smith completed his first ten attempts for 173 yards, 3 TD’s and followed dup his first incompletion with a 27 yard completion on 3rd down to Jock Sanders.  The end result was a 4 touchdown performance the week after his career high 316 yard passing clinic.  I understand Geno Smith’s relative anonymity but don’t forget about Noel Devine who rattled off a 50 yard dash in the first half.  I’m a little perplexed as to why Noel Devine’s name hasn’t been tossed around in the Heisman discussion.  He’s arguably the most explosive runner in the nation and the Mountaineers seem to have increased his workload this season.  Devine has rushed for a solid 354 yards thus far.  For such an explosive runner, Devine is hardly mentioned in the national race like his predecessor Steve Slaton once was.  It’ll take a return to the top 10 and national prominence for either player to be seriously considered but they’ve taken giant steps in the right direction.

Andrew Luck & Ryan Mallett

Meanwhile, Andrew Luck may be solidifying his Heisman campaign and #1 overall draft stock with a dizzying array of throws in the pocket, under pressure and roll out passes.  As a redshirt sophomore, Luck is already eons ahead of Locker, developmentally wise.

Last week, I lamented Ryan Mallett’s picturesque deep ball as the best in pro football.   At 6’7, he’s the Randy Johnson of quarterbacks. A few minutes before, Ryan Mallett threw a 15 yard out that resulted in a game winning 40 yard catch and run, ESPN Research pointed out Ryan Mallett had more completions of 30 plus yards than anyone in the nation since 2009.  Interestingly enough, his first touchdown pass of the game was a 56 yard completion off a perfectly executed play fake.

2011 may be the strongest draft for quarterbacks we’ve seen in a long time.

But back to Luck, who has been vying for the #1 spot on Mel Kiper’s 2011 Draft Board.  For all his passing gifts, his Heisman moment to date came on an Elway-esque 52 yard run in a 68-24 rout of Wake Forest.  Most importantly Luck has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

The Oklahoma State Offense:

The Cowboys are 1s t in the nation in passing yards and second in passing yards but it’s difficult to surmise who they should build their promotional Heisman campaign around.  Kendall Hunter, Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden have each been among the nation’s best.  Brandon Weeden is 25 yards from 1,000 through three games despite sitting for parts of blowout wins over Washington State and Tulsa.  Kendall Hunter rushed for 257 yards in the season opener but stalled at 59 yards on just a handful of carries(11) Saturday.  The most consistent has been sophomore receiver Justin Blackmon, who has amassed 24 receptions for 434 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Extrapolate those numbers over a 12 game season and that’s 96 catches for 1,700 yards and 32 touchdowns.  Amazingly, that’s not quite Michael Crabtree’s ’07 season but keeping up that pace will be tough yet integral for any real chances for a wide receiver in 2010.

If any one of these three win the Heisman, Oklahoma State should place the award to new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorson’s office.  At 39, Holgorson spent 7 years as offensive coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech before spending two seasons on Houston’s staff, transforming Case Keenum into Colt Brennan 2.0.

Case Keenum

Alternatively, Houston’s offense has hit a rough patch this season confounded by losing Case Keenum and his backup for the entire season.  It’s even more crushing for Keenum who was also within reach of the career passing yardage record, entered the season as a fringe Heisman candidate and the undisputed face of Conference USA.

(Slipped out the Race)

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