Trent Richardson had the power, Montee Ball had the statistics, Robert Griffin III had the explosiveness, Andrew Luck had the tools but Tyrann Mathieu had ‘it’.
The Honey Badger, as Mathieu become known as, had the ability to make a big play when his team needed it most. He glued your eyes to the TV and as last year’s most exciting player, he deserved the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
College football fans are accustomed to looking at touchdowns and yards gained as the statistical criteria needed to hoist the Heisman. In the 77-year history of the Heisman, Charles Woodson remains the only defensive player to ever strike the pose.
So you’re telling me that the other 76 years an offensive player was the best player in college football? I do not believe that. Not for a second.
Offensive players continue to win the Heisman because it can be difficult to quantify a defensive player’s statistics as Heisman-worthy. It’s easy to describe how exceptional a Montee Ball is because stats that everyone understands can prove his productiveness.
Not to mention, when you have a defensive game changer as talented as Mathieu, offenses often game-plan to avoid him at all costs.
But, the Honey Badger don’t care, he always found the ball last season.
Tyrann Mathieu led LSU in tackles with 71. Generally, when a defensive back leads his team in tackles it suggests that offensives routinely gash that defense for big gains. It’s almost always a sign of a bad defense. But Mathieu’s ball hawking and play-making ability made him an anomaly to this logic.
The Honey Badger striked so frequently, and in so many different facets of the game.
Heisman winners almost always have that one shinning moment that wins them the trophy. The Honey Badger was so clutch he changed games like no one else could; it is hard to pinpoint just one play.
He exploded for a 92 yard punt return against number three ranked Arkansas. Then in Cowboys Stadium against Oregon he forced a fumble, recovered it and housed it for six all in one play. In the SEC Championship game, he weaved his way 62 yards through the whole Georgia team for a magnificent punt return touchdown that would have made Devin Hester’s jaw drop.
Don’t forget about the interceptions either. He had two timely picks last season; one on the road against West Virginia and one versus Florida. Tyrann Mathieu didn’t have that one signature Heisman moment; he had a whole highlight reel full of them.
Without Tyrann Mathieu, LSU would not have been undefeated going into the National Championship game against Alabama. He was the best player on the best team in the country. If justice prevailed, the 77th Heisman trophy would be in the hands of Mr. Mathieu. Last year's Heisman should have given credit where credit is due and gave Tyrann Mathieu one more shinning moment.
Follow me on Twitter @NolanGauvreau01
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!