Behind the numbers: Marqise Lee and the Heisman Campaign

USC finally decided to launch a Heisman campaign for Marqise Lee, just as it did for Matt Barkley at this same time last year.  Better late than never, right?

The Trojan quarterback did receive votes on the 2011 Heisman ballot, but not enough to attend the ceremony in New York.  Despite another late promotion by the Athletic Department, it may be different for the program’s star receiver. Lee has quickly become a household name, and his team is set to play in as many as three high profile games before all Heisman votes are cast.

With dates remaining against ranked UCLA and unbeaten Notre Dame, the Trojans will draw the national spotlight over the next two weeks. A win on Saturday will earn a trip to the conference championship game, which ensures another opportunity to shine.  Publicity is just as important to a Heisman campaign as it is for a presidential race. Obama and Romney weren’t the only names on the presidential ballot, but there was little to no consideration for candidates out of the public eye.  Lee is granted an opportunity to give the nation an eyeful of his talent, before voters begin to mark an ‘x’ beside player names.

With that said, if Lee can continue his dominance over the next few weeks, he should easily punch a ticket to New York. But the bigger question that remains is whether he can actually win the award, especially with the odds weighed heavily against him.

You need only to turn the calendar back one year to see a player from a 3-loss team winning the Heisman Trophy. Robert Griffin III suffered three losses before Heisman voting closed, and his Baylor Bears were never in national championship contention, didn’t win their conference, and didn’t qualify for a BCS bowl game.  He earned the coveted award through performance, and tossed modern credentials to the wayside.   But he also had an advantage that Lee does not, being that he was a quarterback.

WR Tim Brown | Notre Dame

Quarterbacks have won the stiff-arm trophy in each of the past two seasons. With Reggie Bush’s 2005 Heisman vacated, quarterbacks have also accounted for 10 of the last 11 winners on record, with only Alabama’s Mark Ingram being the exception. Lee finds himself grouped with the likes of Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, with his odds for a steal not much better than Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Only 3 of 77 Heisman winners were wide receivers. It has been 21 years since Desmond Howard claimed the trophy for pass catchers, and 25 years since a receiver (Tim Brown) representing a team with 3 or more losses won the award. Those are the cold hard facts, and the obstacle that stands between Lee and an acceptance speech in December.

Lee’s average of 223.00 all-purpose yards per game currently stands second-best in the nation, trailing only Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews. He ranks second in receptions per game (9.80), and receiving yards per game (144.70). His 1,477 receiving yards are the most in the nation, and averaging 29.43 yards, he is 13th nationally in kickoff returns.

Lee has also accomplished another feat, and it isn’t recorded in any statistical box. He has quickly made Southern California forget the Signing Day snub by De”Anthony Thomas. The Oregon standout was a preseason Heisman candidate, but has played in the shadows of teammates Kenjon Barner and Marcus Mariota. What the Trojans possess is a bigger and more dominant all-purpose player, who has repeatedly proven how difficult he is to defend. Thomas ranks 35th in all-purpose yards, averaging nearly 100 yards less per game than USC’s super-soph.

Marqise Lee- Awards Campaign Highlight

~Fight On

 

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~ by Anthony on November 14, 2012.

One Response to “Behind the numbers: Marqise Lee and the Heisman Campaign”

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