Just off the Pace
Johnny Manziel (QB/Texas A&M)
Everything Johnny Manziel does is under a microscope now after he won the Heisman Trophy last season. A lot of the criticism he receives is unfair, but one thing is clear: he’s still one of the most exciting players in college football when he is on the field. He was suspended for the first half of the game against Rice, and he put on a show in the second half. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 94 yards, and half of his completions went for touchdown. The Aggies only had a seven point lead after the first half, and Manziel came in and put the game away. Next week, Manziel and company get a cupcake opponent in Sam Houston State before the real test comes when the Crimson Tide come to College Station.
Marcus Mariota (QB/Oregon)
Marcus Mariota will be one of the Heisman front runners as the season progresses, but he is just off the pace after week one due to some others having stronger performances against better competition. Still, Mariota was his typical self in Oregon’s season opener against Nicholls State. He threw for 234 yards on 12-of-21 passing with a touchdown. He also ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on just 5 carries. The Ducks will see a step-up in competition over the next couple of weeks as they take on Virginia and Tennessee. Strong performances by the sophomore quarterback would send him surging up the Heisman Watch.
Braxton Miller (QB/Ohio State)
Braxton Miller, and Ohio State in general, had an inauspicious beginning to the 2013 season against Buffalo. The Buckeyes struggled in their 40-20 win, and Miller wasn’t as sharp as usual. Miller threw for 178 yards on 15-of-22 passing with two touchdowns, and rushed for 77 yards. Miller also threw a terrible interception, and was sacked four times. Miller will be fine, and he will get better as the season goes on, but his performance in week one wasn’t good enough to land him among the front runners.
Todd Gurley (RB/Georgia)
Todd Gurley would likely be higher on this list if Georgia had been able to earn the victory on Saturday night against Clemson. Gurley, who missed part of the game with a leg injury, was unstoppable. He carried the rock 154 yards on just 12 carries (12.8 ypc) and scored two touchdowns. Even in a loss, Gurley’s performance was too outstanding to ignore. Gurley will get another opportunity on the big stage next week as the Bulldogs take on South Carolina.
Up Next: Falling off the Pace