Is Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh's Heisman Pose a Pipe Dream or Real Possibility?
After the Missouri game, I jumped on the Ndamukong Suh-for-Heisman bandwagon, one I thought would be reserved for my fellow delusional Husker fans. All of a sudden, though, Suh has become the fresh face in the race, joining Tennessee's Eric Berry as the only defensive players on the potential ballot.
Sure, we expect the Omaha and Lincoln press to start boosting his candidacy, but national media? We were skeptical they would come around.
However, national writers like Sports Illustrated's Gene Menez and Pat Forde now have him their top five. SI's Andy Staples has him at the top, claiming he fits the billing for the Heisman, which is supposed to be awarded to the nation's most outstanding player, not the media's skill-position darling of the moment.
And right now, Suh is kicking more doors down than the bad guys from the ADT home security commercials, forcing people to take notice of his dominance.
The question is, can he stay there? Is the media merely finding someone to fill the void that exists because of the sub-par play of the quarterbacks (Bradford, McCoy, Tebow) thus far, or are they really going to give him a shot?
And furthermore, we need to know if Suh can continue to contribute at this pace—a necessity given the media's penchant for moving on to the next big thing after a bad week or two.
I for one think if there's one thing we can count on, it's that Suh will continue to put up great numbers. Obviously, every team thus far has thrown double-teams and other tricks at the big man in an effort to slow him down, and he has proven those efforts are futile at best.
Will he continue to put up games like Virginia Tech or Missouri, though? That's a tall order. Not many guys have games like Mizzou (six tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, an interception, and three quarterback hurries, along with a pass breakup) twice in a career, let alone a season.
Unfortunately, if he's to stay in the conversation, Suh has to continue to give performances close to these. Suh has been aided by the aforementioned quiet performances by the the big three quarterbacks from last year. But that cannot be counted on continuing through the season.
Will ESPN and Sports Illustrated continue to list Suh so highly if Tebow and company start putting up big numbers? Will Suh be at a disadvantage from a lack of nationally televised games? It's all up in the air right now.
The good news for Suh is that his fellow linemen are all good players, and that will prevent any opposing team to focus too much attention on him and stopping him from making the plays necessary to stay in the Heisman conversation.
The bad news? So many teams in the Big 12 throw the ball so quickly it's going to be difficult for him to get the sacks so many pundits look at to determine how dominant a player is at defensive tackle.
Which shows just how short-sighted the national media is. At least SI's Staples has pointed out any media member with a vote has to watch Suh play a whole game before passing judgement. It's difficult for some to keep their eyes on the trenches, when the perceived "real" action happens wherever the ball is headed.
But even when Suh doesn't put up stats, he can singlehandedly turn the outcome of a game just with his presence. He might not get a sack, but if he collapses the pocket from the interior and forces a quarterback outside to Pierre Allen or Barry Turner, he deserves as much of the credit as them.
The truth of the matter is, Suh's chances of success are directly tied to Nebraska's. If the Huskers continue to win and make a run at the Big 12 championship, Suh will at least stay in the conversation. However, should NU falter (I don't think they will, but then again, I'm chugging the Husker Kool-Aid), then Suh's chances diminish greatly.
What the hell, though. If I'm chugging the Kool-Aid, then I might as well beer-bong it. Suh for Heisman. Why not?
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