Why Johnny Manziel won't win a second straight Heisman

I read Outkick the Coverage and I follow Clay Travis on Twitter because he is entertaining. Clay Travis has a wheelhouse when it comes to college football and it pretty much encompasses hot college coeds and riling up the absolute dumbest portion of college football fan bases. But anyone who really pays attention to him knows that when it comes to actual Xs and Os, he doesn't really know much about football. OKTC is where you go to read about drunk girls in the Grove or Awkward fan photos or football TV viewership, NOT where you go for detailed football analysis. But Clay is a smart guy and he has become extremely successful by understanding his audience and what they want, very similar to Paul Finebaum. The majority of his audience is the SEC's absolute dumbest, referenced above, and they eat up some of the borderline outlandish things he'll declare about SEC football, the latest being that Johnny Manziel should win his second straight Heisman Trophy. Well, here is why that is nearly impossible.

The foremost theme of Clay's article and reasoning for his declaration is that:

"Johnny Manziel's a better quarterback this year than he was last year when he won the Heisman trophy."

I do not disagree with this statement, but he then goes on to support his notion with a bunch of pretty meaningless statistics and compares the quality of Manziels competition to that of Jameis Winston's. He also absurdly infers that Florida State's Defense being so good is an advantage for Winston's campaign.


I'm not going to look at silly statistics like Total Yards and Yards per game, two figures which are basically one and the same. No, here at Tomahawk Nation we use big boy statistics because this is 2013 and we don't take a horse and buggy over an airplane just because that's how daddy did it.

Comp Att Comp % Yards Yards/Att TD INT Pass/TD TD/INT
Jameis Winston 166 240 69.2% 2661 11.1 26 7 9.2 3.7
Johnny Manziel 230 315 73.0% 3313 10.5 31 11 10.2 2.8
A.J. McCarron 159 229 69.4% 2041 8.9 19 3 12.1 6.3
Johnny Manziel 2012 295 434 68.0% 3706 8.5 26 9 16.7 2.9

The thing to pay attention to here are Yards/Attempt, because it eliminates bloated statistics by quarterbacks in offenses that are pass heavy. Manziel has more total yards than anyone but he has also thrown the ball nearly 100 times more than both Winston and McCarron. Two other measures of quarterback play I like are Attempts/TD and TD/INT ratio. The only significant category that Manziel takes is completion percentage. Winston owns him in the rest. However!

"Manziel has played much tougher competition and put up much better stats against that tougher competition."


Travis went on to point out that

"By the end of the season Texas A&M will definitely play four, potentially five top 25 teams. (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Missouri, and, if they finish in the top 25, Ole Miss). By the end of the regular season Florida State will only play one top 25 BCS team all season. (Clemson)."

Well he certainly takes some liberties here and while Clay usually references where teams are ranked at time of play, it is convenient for his argument to look at future rankings because he expects Miami will drop out of the top 25. He's assuming that A$M's opponents can only gain position, not lose it. He's probably right because A$M will probably lose to both LSU and Mizzou. Of course, Johnny Football will then have 4 losses of his own but hey, that hasn't stopped anyone from winning a Heisman before. /sarcasm Personally, I view Auburn and Mizzou in the top ten a lot like the rest of the country viewed Miami's time in the top ten, pretty much by default. The SEC East is as big a mess as the ACC Coastal this year and Auburn's schedule hasn't exactly been an SEC gauntlet. So let's look at competition using some more big boy stats.

Winston Manziel McCarron
Pass D
Pass D
Pass D
Clemson 13 Alabama 15 Virginia Tech 3
Pitt 33 Ole Miss 16 Tenessee 14
NC ST 34 Vandy 30 Ole Miss 16
BC 38 Miss St 32 Lsu 36
Wake 39 Auburn 35 Arkansas 49
Maryland 61 Arkansas 49 Texas A$M 54
Nevada 78 Rice 69 Kentucky 60
Miami 95 SMU 87 Colorado St 92
UTEP 121 Georgia St 115
Syracuse 73
Idaho 108 LSU 36 Miss St 32
Florida 5 Mizzou 19 Auburn 35
To date 48.9 To date 50.4 To date 48.8
Total 52.5 Total 46.3 Total 46.0

According to the S&P+ Passing Defense Rankings Winston has actually faced a higher average Pass Defense than Manziel. Both quarterbacks have faced exactly 5 top 40 Pass Defenses. Looking ahead, Winston will face Florida, who Clay writes off because they are a bad team, but is currently ranked the 5th best pass D in the country. If Virginia Tech makes the ACC championship game, that will add the 3rd ranked pass D in the country. Basically, while Johnny Football continues to rack up Ls Famous Jameis is going to continue adding bullet points to his resume.

"Heisman Moments"

ESPN has a list of the top 1008 QB performances of 2013 based on Total QBR, which is basically a QBR adjusted for the strength of opposing defenses faced. Below are Winston, Manziel and McCarrons top 100 performances.

16 Jameis Winston W 41-13 @ PITT in Wk 1 96.3 97.8
22 Jameis Winston W 51-14 @ CLEM in Wk 8 89.4 97.1
24 Jameis Winston W 49-17 vs NCST in Wk 9 96.3 97.0
26 Tyler Murphy W 31-17 vs TENN in Wk 4 96.1 96.8
41 AJ McCarron W 45-10 vs TENN in Wk 9 94.5 95.5
43 AJ McCarron W 49-42 @ TA&M in Wk 3 93.8 95.4
61 AJ McCarron W 52-0 vs ARK in Wk 8 93.9 93.9
66 Jameis Winston W 63-0 vs MD in Wk 6 90.4 93.5
68 Johnny Manziel L 49-42 vs ALA in Wk 3 74.0 93.3
80 Johnny Manziel W 41-38 @ MISS in Wk 7 88.7 92.5
83 Jameis Winston W 48-34 @ BC in Wk 5 92.8 92.3
85 Jameis Winston W 41-14 vs MIA in Wk 10 90.7 92.2

So, Jamies has 6 Top 100 performances to Johnny Football's 2, four of which are better than Manziel's best performance. AJ McCarron has 3 performances better than Manziel's best, and yes, I threw Tyler Murphy's best performance in there, which is also better than Johnny Football's best game of the season.

No help from the Defense!

The fact that the Aggies defense is so putrid is actually an advantage to Manziel's Heisman campaign. Because the Aggies give up so many points, Johnny Football is consistently in shootouts, where ridiculous passing numbers are necessary. Winston on the other hand has a defense that consistently shuts down opponent offenses creating early garbage time and giving Florida State's extremely balanced Offense short fields to run the ball and grind out clock. Manziel has thrown 75 more passes this season than Winston and has only played one more game. Winston averages less than 27 throws per game. That means if Winston throws his average this weekend, Manziel will still have TWO extra games worth of plays. That's significant when you only look at the dumb stat totals Travis is using.


The Heisman Trophy is a joke of an award anyway with incredible ambiguity in selection criteria and a seemingly exclusive club for quarterbacks and running backs in spite of being intended for the "most outstanding college football player," Yet, we all still pay attention and would like "our" guy to win it. Clay constantly looks to Vegas lines to determine projected rankings and has even said he thinks the oddsmakers should be the college football playoff committee. So in terms he's familiar with, Winston is a 1/8 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel and McCarron are 5/1. It's practically over.

Look, I like Johnny Football and I guess a lot of people don't due to fatigue of his presence on ESPN in the offseason, but he's entertaining as hell and he's good for those who enjoy watching college football, but the truth of the matter is this: Johnny Manziel won't win the Heisman Trophy this year because he's not as good as Jameis Winston and the reason he won it last year was because Winston was on the bench.

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