The Throwback: You can spell Heisman without SEC this year
The Countdown clock stays the same this week:
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HEISMAN CONTENDERS?
After his performance against Florida State this past weekend it’s clear that Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is the heavy Heisman favorite. The Cardinals’ schedule should be conducive to more big performances from Jackson, and games against Clemson and Houston give him enough chances to stay in the public eye.
Meanwhile the SEC wasn’t heavy on Heisman contenders, but there were a few with running backs Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb leading the way while quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Josh Dobbs considered potential dark horses.
Chubb came out the gate hot with a 222-yard performance against North Carolina. Since then Chubb has been pedestrian with 80 yards and a touchdown against Nicholls and just 63 yards on 19 carries against Missouri. A tough matchup against Ole Miss awaits Chubb this week as his Heisman campaign appears to be ending.
Nick "Heisman contender back better than ever" Chubb: 19 rushes 63 yards
— Forever World Tails (@BieIik) September 18, 2016
Fournette has already missed a game with an ankle injury but ran well against Wisconsin (23 carries, 138 yards) and Mississippi State (28 carries, 147, 2 TDs). With big games against Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Arkansas upcoming there’s plenty of opportunities for Fournette to have a breakout performance and challenge Jackson.
Kelly hasn’t been bad with 953 yards and 10 touchdowns in three weeks. That’s the good side. The bad side has been his contributions in Ole Miss blowing two leads of 20 points or more in three weeks (more on that below). Kelly would need to be lights out for the rest of the season to be considered for an invite to New York.
Dobbs’ numbers haven’t been eye-popping (486 passing yards, 161 rushing yards, nine total touchdowns) and that was against the easier opposition on the schedule. His Heisman campaign is dead, but Dobbs’ main goal of an SEC title is still very much alive.
Josh Dobbs only needs 2,516 more passing yards and 839 rushing yards for the 3,000 and 1,000 I was promised this offseason.
— Dan Thompson (@DK_Thompson) September 17, 2016
THIS IS EASON’S TEAM NOW
To fulfill my contractually required mention of one of the true freshman quarterbacks in the conference I bring to you this money throw from Jacob Eason to rally the Bulldogs past Missouri and improve to 3-0.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 18, 2016
JUDGMENT DAYS COMING
Two divisional games feature 3-0 teams and all still have something to prove if we are to believe they are legitimate contenders.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (at Arlington): The Aggies are no strangers to fast starts in September, it’s usually the October/November stretch that does them in, but this team feels a little … different … maybe it’s the way the defense gets tougher as the game goes along.
Arkansas has started 3-0 for the second time in Bret Bielema’s stint in Fayetteville and will try to avoid the nine-game losing streak that followed in 2013. The battle of Arkansas’ big line and physical running attack against an Aggies defense that’s been solid, if not spectacular, will be a deciding factor here.
Auburn rushed for 236 yards against A&M last week, but the Aggies didn’t break and kept Auburn from breaking off the big plays.
Aggies receiver Christian Kirk had eight catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s game, a 28-21 overtime win. Arkansas gained nearly 500 yards on the Aggies last year and Drew Morgan had eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown.
Florida at Tennessee: The Gators had all the momentum going in this game after walking through their extended preseason until starting quarterback Luke Del Rio was chopped down at the knee on a questionable tackle.
The Gators will turn to backup Austin Appleby (more on him below) and a defense that’s feasted on opposition that can only be described as weak.
Tennessee was riding on the hype train to start the season and it came to a screeching halt after the Volunteers struggled with Appalachian State. Tennessee still seems to be figuring out what kind of team it is, but 3-0 is 3-0, and here we are with both teams undefeated and questions about how “elite” they are.
Florida will have to hope its defense is just as good against a team with an actual pulse and the running game led by Mark Thompson, Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite can take the pressure off Appleby.
Tennessee needs Dobbs to make some downfield throws because the Gators’ secondary will try hard to take away the underneath stuff. Dobbs only threw for 83 yards against Florida last year but rushed for 136 to balance it out.
Florida receiver Antonio Callaway had his breakout game with five catches for 112 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Can he take advantage of the Vols’ banged up secondary?
SECOND HALF CHAD KELLY WATCHES BASIC CABLE
If people are wondering exactly what Kelly is doing in the second half of games that contributes to Ole Miss blowing two 20+ leads in three weeks, the answer is simple – he’s not protecting the football.
In the first half against Florida State and Alabama, Kelly was 23-of-38 for 382 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
In the second half, Kelly is 24-of-42 for 372 yards with three touchdowns, three interceptions and two fumbles lost.
Of those five turnovers, two were returned for defensive touchdowns, two led directly to offensive touchdowns and one effectively ended a game. Three of the five turnovers were deep inside of Ole Miss territory.
What happened to Chad Kelly during 30 minutes of halftime to lose all sense of pocket awareness he had for 2 hours before it
— #BeatATL (@JSiglerNFL) September 17, 2016
Yo I really think Chad kelly just goes into halftime has a party and comes out the second half intoxicated
— Wright Graning (@TigerPride7) September 17, 2016
PURDUE QBs TAKING OVER SEC
The Gators appear to have dodged a major bullet when it was reported that Luke Del Rio’s knee injury wasn’t as bad as thought and the quarterback could return in the next couple of weeks.
But for the near future, including this Saturday at Tennessee, it will be Appleby starting under center. Appleby will be the second transfer from Purdue to start as a quarterback in the SEC, joining LSU’s Danny Etling.
This could set up an interesting situation if Del Rio isn’t back by Oct. 8 when LSU travels to the Swamp.
Appleby and Etling were teammates at Purdue and battled for the starting spot in 2013 with both guys losing out to some guy named Rob Henry. Etling made his first start in the fifth week of the 2013 season and started 12 games over the next two seasons for Purdue, going 2-10.
The two were in another QB battle in 2014. Etling won but was pulled after the Boilermakers’ fifth game for Appleby. The then-sophomore started 11 games over the 2014 and 2015 seasons with a 2-9 record as a starter.
Purdue football must have been painful to watch.