29 November 2011
Even with Trent Richardson's monster performance in last week's Iron Bowl, there is no clear frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race.
Robert Griffin III would love to change that. He's amassed over 4,000 yards of offense and more than 40 total touchdowns this season while potentially making his way onto Heisman Trophy ballots.
"He's just as good of a passer as he is running," said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who has racked up 54 tackles, 10 for loss, over his last four games. "He'll drop back and then, all of a sudden, he wants to run it. You come up to stop the run and then he throws it right over your head. It's really annoying. You have to make him pay every time he runs the ball."
The senior quarterback has thrust his Baylor Bears to their best season in decades, bringing them from the Big 12 cellar to one of the conference's most respected teams. Two other Big 12 quarterbacks - Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden - have drifted in and out of Heisman contention while Richardson, Wisconsin running back/touchdown machine Montee Ball and a handful of other quarterbacks, including Stanford's Andrew Luck, Houston's Case Keenum and USC's Matt Barkley are making cases of their own. But Texas is not willing to oblige Griffin and facilitate a signature Heisman moment.
"It's not going to happen," said senior linebacker Keenan Robinson. "We're not going to let it happen."
In fact, the Longhorns have made a habit out of shutting down prolific high-profile opposing quarterbacks lately. Ever since Jones torched the Longhorns seconary in this year's Red River Rivalry, Texas has made shutting down signal-callers look easy. Weeden, whose 4,111 yards are good for the 3rd-highest in the country, was held to just one touchdown pass and 218 yards, more than 150 less than his season average. His favorite target, last year's Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon, had only 74 yards and a touchdown.
Kansas' Jordan Webb is not nearly of a productive passer as Weeden but averaged a respectable 200-plus yards through the air entering the Jayhawks' meeting with the Longhorns earlier this season. But Webb was limited to a season-low 48 yards passing, managing to fare better than a Kansas rushing attack that produced -2 yards.
Texas Tech's Seth Doege, who has thrown for nearly 4,000 yards and leads the nation in completions with 397, went 40-of-55 for 381 yards but did not find the end zone until late in the third quarter after Texas had already built up a 38-6 lead.
Missouri's dual-threat quarterback James Franklin, likely the closest thing to Griffin the Longhorns have seen this season, has averaged almost 300 total yards per game but mustered just 219 against Texas. But, with the Longhorns offense failing to score a touchdown for the first time in seven years, the defense's dominant effort didn't matter much.
Two weeks ago, against Kansas State's Collin Klein, Texas delieverd another impressive defensive performance. Klein, who is second only to Montee Ball with 25 rushing touchdowns as he nears Ricky Williams' Big 12 record of 27, struggled when his Wildcats took on the Longhorns. The junior quarterback scored twice but had only 83 yards passing and four yards rushing on 26 carries after averaging more than 250 total yards in his previous 10 games and over 100 per game on the ground. Again, despite Case McCoy's valiant second-half effort, Klein's mediocre showing was enough to give Kansas State the win.
Last but not least, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill had his worst game of the season in this year's Lone Star Showdown. His 224 passing yards was the second-lowest this year, the three interceptions he threw tied a season-high and his 40.8 completion percentage last Thursday was, by far, a season-low.
Now, Griffin, coming off a three-touchdown performance in Baylor's 66-42 victory over Texas Tech despite suffering a head injury in the first half and not playing at all in the second half, is set to face this Longhorns defense in the Bears' regular-season finale. Like the Joker said in "Dark Knight," it will be like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Should be fun to watch.
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