Cam Newton: Why Andrew Luck Deserves the Heisman More Than the Auburn QB
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton has been arguably the story of the year this season, leading the Tigers to a perfect 13-0 record and a SEC championship.
It was announced today that Newton is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy Award, along with Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Oregon running back LaMichael James, and Boise State QB Kellen Moore.
The general consensus is that Newton should receive the award, given he is the majority of the Tigers' offense and a very difficult dual-threat to stop.
But Luck has gone by the wayside as Newton has gained more exposure.
Yet he is still being called the likely No. 1 pick in this year's upcoming NFL Draft.
Has Luck's play been overshadowed by Newton's buzz?
Here are 10 reasons Why Andrew Luck Deserves the Heisman More Than the Auburn QB.
10. Luck Has The Makings Of a Better Pro
Sure, Cameron Newton has been a huge difference-maker this season in college football. He's changed the college football landscape more than anyone.
But so did Vince Young. So did Troy Smith.
And although Young has improved, he surely hasn't been the top passer everyone christened him to be when he was selected third in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
My point is, running quarterbacks can get away with more in college football because they can outrun a lot of defenses. Thus, their running gets them out of a lot of trouble.
Pocket passers, like Andrew Luck, don't have that luxury. They have to make pinpoint throws to excel.
With all the buzz Newton has created, he is still being projected behind Luck in the NFL Draft.
Why? Because Luck is a better quarterback.
9. Luck Is Overshadowed By The SEC Hype
Cameron Newton plays in one of the most glorified conferences in college football history. With schools like Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Mississippi State, any amount of success in the conference instantly thrusts a player into the limelight.
Despite Luck's stellar play this year, he has hardly even been mentioned in Heisman talks.
Even if Newton is the front-runner, you would think Luck would have been mentioned more.
But he hasn't. Because he plays in the Pac-10 and Newton plays in one of the most historic conferences in the nation.
8. Luck's a Better Passer
Cameron Newton has made headlines this season for being only the second player in college football history to pass for at least 20 touchdowns and rush for at least 20 touchdowns.
Certainly an impressive feat.
But does it really mean anything?
As mentioned before, a running quarterback has an advantage in college football, because he can run himself out of a sticky situation.
Despite not very good running legs and not being a dual-threat, Andrew Luck has still dominated his competition, even in situations where the only thing to do was pass.
He has shown he is a better passing quarterback than Newton, and that is more impressive.
7. Luck Is More Accurate
Of course, to be a great pocket passer you have to be deadly accurate.
It's impossible to see a quarterback's accuracy without watching him play.
Newton, because he plays in the SEC, has been able to show his accuracy. There's no question Newton is an accurate QB, but some of the throws Luck has made have been through holes the size of a football.
He's able to make every type of throw, too, from bullet passes to passes over defenders' heads that land neatly in his receivers' hands.
From Cal coach Jeff Tedford:
"He's extremely accurate between the numbers, you don't see a lot of circus catches, he's a class act and he's the best quarterback in the country," Tedford said after Stanford trounced Cal 48-14 in the Big Game on Nov. 20. "I look at him as a complete guy."
6. Luck Has a Higher Completion Percentage Than Newton
In a nice sample size of 349 passing attempts on the year, Andrew Luck has completed 70.2 percent of his passes.
Newton has completed 67.2 percent of his passes.
It shows what accuracy Luck has, and also his ability to make the important third-down completions to his possession receivers.
In Stanford's seven-game winning streak to end the season, Luck was even better, completing 75.6 percent of his passes.
5. Luck's Taken Less Sacks
One of the overlooked problems with having a running quarterback is they can be susceptible to running at the first sign of duress.
This can lead to protection issues, as once a quarterback leaves the pocket his offensive line doesn't have the angle to block for him.
Newton has taken 21 sacks this season. Luck, on the other hand, has taken five.
This could be attributed to better protection if it was a close margin, but 16 more sacks is a large margin.
Luck knows how to use his protection and doesn't scramble, which shows he is truly comfortable in the pocket.
4. Luck Has a Better Interception Percentage
Sure, Luck has thrown seven interceptions to Newton's six this season, but he also thrown the ball 103 more times than Newton.
It's hard to imagine Newton wouldn't eclipse seven interceptions in 100 more throws.
Turnovers are a huge part of football, and having a nearly mistake-free quarterback can go a long way in winning a football game.
In addition to throwing 28 touchdowns this year, it has been Luck's uncanny ability to avoid throwing interceptions that has truly been more impressive.
3. Luck's Statistics Don't Do Him Justice
Despite impressive numbers, Luck's numbers still don't do him justice.
From columnist Mark Purdy of the Mercury News:
"Luck is not the sort of quarterback who rolls up massive statistics -- the team's balanced offensive philosophy prevents that. Statistics don't do justice to Luck anyway. You need to see him in person.
"For example, (against Cal), Luck completed 16 of 20 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions. That doesn't seem so awesome -- unless you witnessed how some of those passes were completed. On a few, Luck gunned the ball at warp speed to find an almost impossible opening between multiple Cal defenders. On others, he sent the ball soaring perfectly over the top to have them drop perfectly into the hands of (receiver Doug) Baldwin."
2. Luck Is Clean
I know, I know, Cam Newton has been cleared by the NCAA because his dad accepted $200,000 from Auburn, not him.
But even if Cameron Newton is cleared for now, do we really want another Reggie Bush situation?
This is the Heisman Trust's mission statement: "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence and integrity."
The final word hit a nerve with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh:
"He has the utmost integrity," Harbaugh said of Luck. "If I had to bet my life on a guy in terms of his integrity, it'd be Andrew Luck. "... It's extraordinary integrity that he has. There's no finer young man I've been around."
If the Heisman Trust is looking for both excellence AND integrity, you would think Luck would have a leg up on Newton. Newton, of course, has not been found guilty of anything, but Luck has been immaculate off the field.
If the Heisman is meant for what is exhibited on the field rather than off it, than the mission statement should be changed.
1. The Heisman Needs Luck More Than Ever
With all the recruitment violations springing up, you would think the Heisman mission statement would ring even truer for the Trust these days.
Even taking Reggie Bush out of the picture, there have been so many violations it's staggering, and it's starting to sound more like baseball during the steroid era: "Well, everyone's doing it."
Luck not only deserves the award based on his excellence on the field, he deserves it because he is one of the few star athletes who hasn't succumbed to greed or temptation, who has kept his head above water despite hundreds of thousands of dollars that were undoubtedly thrust in his face during the recruitment process.
He is the model of what the Heisman is supposed to stand for. That word again. "Integrity."