Will Zach Mettenberger or Tajh Boyd Be Better Heisman Contender in 2013?
You have come to the wrong place if you believe Zach Mettenberger is a better Heisman candidate that Tajh Boyd.
Unless you are a diehard LSU fan or a delusional supporter that believes the passing game will takeoff overnight, there is no way you are picking against Boyd in this argument. However you want to turn and flip things, the answer at the bottom of the magic eight ball should still come back to the Clemson quarterback.
The last time we saw Mettenberger and Boyd, both were leaving the field after a highly competitive and entertaining Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clemson surprisingly ended up winning the game, instantly building hype heading into the new season, while LSU was left to go back to the drawing board and find ways to replace a truckload of starters.
Both quarterbacks have returned for their senior season and will be leading national championship contending teams. Any time you are the leader of a team that will not only compete for a conference title, but a national championship, you have a fairly decent shot to win a Heisman Trophy.
Mettenberger may be on the radar when it comes to LSU fans, but outside the bubble in Baton Rouge, it is Boyd who is dominating this argument.
The first topic of discussion is that Boyd has proven himself much more than Mettenberger has. Starting the last two seasons, he has thrown for more than 3,800 yards and has a combined 69 passing touchdowns in the last two years. In those two seasons, he has produced 78 passes that have gone for more than 25 yards, and he greatly bumped his completion percentage to 67 percent last year.
Mettenberger completed only 58 percent of his passes, threw for 12 touchdowns and had seven interceptions. Later towards the end of the season, the LSU quarterback did begin to pick it up a bit, including delivering a nice performance against Alabama, where he racked up 298 yards and a touchdown. But then he absolutely tanked against a Clemson defense that finished seventh in the ACC, throwing for 120 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The statistics clearly favor Boyd no matter how you want to slice things up. In today's college football and media crazed age we live in, stats play a gigantic role in who walks away with the hardware. Even if Johnny Manziel's face wasn't plastered everywhere you turned, all it took was for somebody to mention that he broke the SEC total offense single-season record. The award was his in an instant.
Now there are a few things leaning in the favor of Mettenberger. He does happen to have a better team around him. In order to win the award, you must win the majority of your games or nobody is even going to remember anything you did individually. While Clemson continues to have questions defensively, LSU is going to remain that tough and physical squad on both sides of the ball. No matter how many players must be replaced, the coaching staff goes into its bag and pulls out another 5-star recruit to fill in that spot.
Who is a stronger Heisman candidate?
LSU also has a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, somebody who can realistically put the historic quarterback issues to bed. With his Air Coryell system being installed in Baton Rouge, it will allow for more vertical plays and deeper passes. This will of course give Mettenberger more opportunities to put up those numbers that make the Heisman voters all googly-eyed.
Even with things looking better as a whole for the LSU offense, you would be a fool to think the team to going to shy away from its bread and butter. This is still going to be a team that wants to pound the ball up the middle and beat opposing teams into submission. It is what has helped LSU win double-digit games in six of the eight seasons under Les Miles, and it will continue to be the identity of this team.
Knowing that, it takes chances away from Mettenberger, which isn't exactly the case with Boyd. The Clemson quarterback is asked to take over the game, while the LSU quarterback is asked to manage and not lose the game.
LSU hasn't had a 3,000-yard passer since JaMarcus Russell back in 2006. Since then, he has been drafted, played in the NFL, flopped miserably and is now trying to make a comeback. What LSU has had a hard time doing over the last six seasons; Boyd has done twice in the last two in effortless fashion.
Boyd even carved up this LSU defense last season, throwing for 346 yards and two touchdowns in the big victory in last year’s bowl game. If that is any indication of how things are going to pan out in the upcoming year, we are going to see insane numbers, especially with him facing flimsy defenses in the ACC.
Speaking of conferences, Mettenberger doesn't even have the advantage schedule wise. Usually an SEC player has the upper hand due to playing in the highly competitive conference and given multiple chances to earn what is called a "Heisman moment". But while LSU plays some of the tougher teams in the country, Clemson also plays Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina, making this point much of a wash.
Mettenberger should be better than he was last season and the potential is there for him to enter the conversation at some point, but Boyd has earned his stripes already and there are far less concerns surrounding him.
Boyd is easily the better Heisman contender entering the upcoming season and it really isn't even close.
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