Voters' Football Knowledge Is the Key to Manti Te'o's Heisman Chances
Manti Te'o is likely heading to New York as Chris Huston's recent Heisman Pundit straw poll at CBS Sports shows the senior linebacker sitting firmly in second place. As we told you earlier this week at Your Best 11, the mere invitation to New York would be a minor win for the defense.
However, as we inch closer to the Heisman Ceremony, and debate heats up, one thing becomes increasingly clear: Manti Te'o's worth is largely tied to a person's view of football.
It is so much more than this ideal that you have to play offense to win. It is a legitimate dearth of comprehending a player's value or performance beyond anything but statistics. It is not just that people love offense, they do; it is also the fact that they can point to games and stat-lines to back up their arguments for guys like Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller.
With Manti Te'o, once you get past through the 103 tackles, seven interceptions, 5.5 tackles for loss and the six games of 10 or more tackles, people say, "is that all?"
One, that's not enough? Two, no, folks, that's is not all, at all. In fact, those stats are so far from "all" that Te'o does that makes him outstanding. It is sad that people don't understand it.
But, it's not their fault.
What Te'o does is more than just hit a hole or throw for a bunch of yards. What Te'o does are things that require a keen eye to actually see on the football field.
Monday, at Your Best 11, we broke down the goal line stand Notre Dame had to stop USC from getting back into the game. We hit on Te'o, and what his play allows Bob Diaco to do with the Irish's goal line defense.
If you don't know what you're looking at, or looking for, then you do not understand how Te'o has made the third down stop possible.
Here against BYU, Te'o shows something that's more than just an interception. He shows why he is worthy of being deemed "outstanding" as a defender.
Like everyone on defense, Te'o reads screen. When the quarterback pumps, one armed, that's a clear sign to break on the ball.
The tight end slips out, and he should run for days, wide open in the middle.
Except he is not as open as expected because Te'o, after reading screen, backtracks and is in position to make a tackle for a short gain.
Or, as we saw happen against BYU, Te'o grabs the ball from the offensive player who is juggling the off target pass.
For people who miss those little things in watching a 6'2" 255-pound man roam the field sideline to sideline, it's not their fault. That is not the thing that folks look for when they watch the games; and they certainly do not show up in the stat sheet that people base their opinions on, almost entirely.
If voters were to sit down, really watch the tape on a game-by-game basis to see what Manti does, many more would walk away truly amazed at what the young man does. It is truly outstanding.
Ultimately, the Heisman will go to an offensive player, but it will be because people can quantify their outstanding qualities with numbers, not just football.
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