Johnny Manziel put together yet another strong game against the Sam Houston State Bearcats on Saturday, making him the undisputed favorite for the Heisman Trophy following Week 2.
Running back Archie Griffin is the only player to ever win the Heisman in back-to-back years, a feat which he accomplished in 1974 and 1975. Putting Manziel on that kind of level after Week 2 may seem like a stretch, but his stats and ability to handle adversity show why he is the best player in college football.
His Week 2 performance against the Bearcats was stellar. He completed 28 of 41 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 36 yards and a touchdown. Couple that with his three-touchdown, 6-for-8 performance in Week 1 against Rice, and Manziel already has close to 500 (497) yards passing and six touchdowns.
Compare that to his first two games of last season, and it's clear that he's already ahead of that level of passing production. Through two games against Florida and Southern Methodist in 2012, Manziel threw for four touchdowns and 467 yards.
Rushing, however, is where Manziel had the edge in 2012. Through two games, he rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns. He has just 55 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown in 2013.
Such a disparity in his rushing and passing marks from year to year could be a result of two things. For one, Manziel could simply be taking what the defense is giving him, showing the college football world that he has the intelligence to succeed against any opponent. Florida and Southern Methodist didn't boast dominant rush defenses, either, so that could come into play as well.
His early season stat lines in 2013 could also suggest that Manziel is becoming a better passer, though. Manziel will always be a mobile quarterback who can beat defenses with his legs, but that doesn't always fly in the NFL. If Manziel wants a future at the highest level, then he'll need to further develop his passing game.
It looks as if he's done so thus far, as the only blemish on his line is an interception against Sam Houston State.
Manziel's ability to overcome adversity also proves the kind of player he is. Quarterbacks have enough on their plates as it is, but throwing in scandal on top would be enough to really affect your average quarterback. Manziel didn't just play well against Rice after being suspended for the first half—he played extremely well. Recording three touchdowns on just eight passing attempts is nothing to sneeze at.
While there are already several standout performers this year (Jameis Winston, Todd Gurley and Teddy Bridgewater, just to name a few), Manziel has the name recognition and track record to beat them out in the final vote. Assuming Manziel can keep up this production, there shouldn't be anybody blocking his path to winning his second consecutive Heisman.
Manziel will be under much scrutiny this year following his offseason scandal, but he can silence all his doubters with a fantastic campaign. After just two weeks, he's well on his way to doing so.
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