Oregon Football: Why Marcus Mariota Should Have Been a Heisman Finalist

Nathan LoweryCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2012

CORVALLIS, OR - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks breaks into the open for a long run as linebacker Feti Taumoepeau #41 of the Oregon State Beavers dives to try and tackle him in the second quarter of the game on November 24, 2012 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The finalists for 2012 Heisman Trophy have been announced, and frankly, I'm a bit disappointed at the fact that Marcus Mariota was left off of the list.

Am I surprised at all? No, of course not. After all, there is a bias against the Pac-12.

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, Kansas State's Collin Klein and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel are extremely worthy candidates who all deserve to win the award.

But how can you leave off a guy who has just as solid a case as Manziel, the expected winner?

I love watching "Johnny Football" play more than I ever did Cam Newton, and I thought Newton was the clear winner back in 2010.

Manziel brings an offensive presence at quarterback that is on the same level as Newton and of former Florida all-time great Tim Tebow. His speed and elusiveness allowed him to smash Newton's and Tebow's SEC records for total yards in a season.

The scary thing in all of this is that Manziel is only a redshirt freshman in his first year with a new head coach who is in a new conference.

But there is just as good of a redshirt quarterback across the nation in the small town of Eugene, Oregon.

Mariota is one of the best offensive players in the nation, period, and he should have received a nod as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy this season.

Mariota completed 69.9 percent of his passes this season for 2,511 yards and 30 touchdowns. In his first season under center, or in the shotgun in Chip Kelly's offense, Mariota tossed only six picks, five of which came in the first six games.

Mariota was just as impressive on the ground, rushing for 690 yards, 28 shy of Jeremiah Masoli's school record, and four touchdowns.

The most amazing thing about Mariota's stats is how deflated they are.

With Oregon blowing so many of their opponents out early on in games, Mariota often took an early trip to the bench to allow the back-ups playing time.

On the other hand, Manziel was left in the Missouri game (with the Aggies up 42-7 at halftime) just so he could further rack up the stats and make a bigger push towards the Heisman.

Anyone who has the false belief that Mariota's stats are merely a reflection of Kelly's system deserves to listen to a Mike Gundy rant.

The fact that Mariota was good enough to scare incumbent Darron Thomas to run to the NFL, where he went undrafted, and unseat Bryan Bennett is a testament to his ability, not Kelly's system.

Have we ever thought that Manziel's stats are a reflection of Kevin Sumlin's system, which made Case Keenum look like an All-American quarterback?

No, of course not.

But let's say, for the fun of it, we put the stats aside and focus on the pedigree of Mariota and Manziel.

There are two reasons, in my opinion, why Manziel should not win the Heisman.

Florida and LSU

A&M was up 17-7 at halftime against the Gators, while they had a 12-0 lead over LSU late in the first half.

Those games would prove to be a tale of two quarterbacks. Manziel was absolutely shut down in the second half of both games, leading to the Aggies only two losses on the season.

A&M was shutout in the second half against Florida, and Manziel only managed to gain another 100 yards, 80 passing and 20 rushing.

Against the Tigers, Manziel looked exactly like what he truly is, a redshirt freshman, throwing three interceptions in a 24-19 LSU win.

And you want to give a kid who can't close games the Heisman?

Mariota however, showed up when he was called upon.

Against Cal, with the majority of his team injured and the running game being absolutely stuffed, Mariota went on an absolute tear in the second half.

Mariota finished the game with six touchdowns, tied for the school record, and led the Ducks to their 10th victory on the season.

Now that's a Heisman-like moment.

Once again, I can't reiterate how much praise I truly have for Manziel, Te'o and Klein. All three are great players that I've enjoyed watching this season, but Mariota was absolutely snubbed in being left of the list of Heisman finalists.


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