This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.
REASONS JOHNNY MANZIEL WILL WIN A SECOND HEISMAN
NO. 4, HIS OFFENSE AND COACHING
Texas A&M ran 1,025 plays last year. Only 14 FBS teams ran more.
This is important to a quarterback's statistical bottom line, obviously. Being the quarterback of a fast-tempo offensive team will give a player more opportunities to compile the necessary numbers to impress Heisman Trophy voters.
Johnny Manziel's 2012 Heisman season wasn't built on quantity over quality. His 8.5 yards per passing attempt were 12th in FBS, and his 7 yards per rush ranked eighth among FBS qualifiers. He was very efficient.
But having the ability to run 1,000 plays or more this season in Kevin Sumlin's offense won't hurt his chances at a repeat, even with a small downtick to those averages.
Here's an example, using one of Manziel's prime competitors for the 2013 Heisman. Last season, Louisville ran 107 fewer plays than Texas A&M. Even though Manziel had 201 rushing attempts, he also had 15 more passing attempts than Louisville's fantastic Teddy Bridgewater. So Manziel came close to Bridgewater in passing yards (he had 3,706 to Bridgewater's 3,718) and passing touchdowns (he had 26 to Bridgewater's 27). But the rushing stats (1,409 to 26 for Bridgewater, who is good at avoiding the rush to buy time in the pocket but is not a runner), combined with the similar passing numbers (along with other factors like level of competition), gave a strong edge to Manziel in voters' eyes.
Manziel had 142 more passing or rushing attempts than Bridgewater last season. With Manziel averaging between 7 and 8 yards per play, that's a lot of ground for Bridgewater to make up. It's easier and more common to simply look at gross numbers than yards per play. When is the last time you heard anyone reference yards per pass attempt or per rush in a stats-based debate anyway? In 2011, Robert Griffin III had 130 more rushing and passing attempts than Andrew Luck, in part because Baylor played at a faster pace and ran more plays than Stanford. Griffin was tremendous in his extra opportunities and clearly deserved the Heisman, but would the voting been a little different if Luck had the same amount of rushing and passing opportunities? Probably.
Other Heisman contenders, such as those in Oregon, Baylor and Clemson, were also on offenses in the 1,000-play club last season, but not all offenses operate at a pace that allows for as many opportunities as Manziel will get if he stays healthy.
And Manziel plays in an offense that makes sure he takes advantage of those extra plays, like last season.
Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is off to Texas Tech, and while that is a bit of a worry, Sumlin is one of the better offensive coaches in FBS. That's pretty funny for a guy that played linebacker at Purdue.
In Case Keenum's three full seasons with Sumlin coaching Houston, he threw for 5,000 yards and at least 44 touchdowns each year. Sumlin has firmly established that he is capable of leading a great offensive attack every season. Give him a quarterback like Manziel and that's especially true.
Even great players need to land in the right system with the right coach to put up award-winning numbers. Manziel and Sumlin are a perfect match in that regard.