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March 2, 2012

BULLDOG QBs and the HEISMAN Haven't Gone Hand in Hand

I was recently emailed by a reader, asking what I thought Aaron Murray's chances were of taking home the Heisman Trophy in 2012.  Personally, I had never thought of the possibility of the Bulldog quarterback receiving the coveted award until the email; however, apparently some so-called experts believe he actually has a legitimate shot this upcoming season.

I saw where an online sportsbook gave 12-to-1 odds on Murray to win the trophy -- the fifth-best odds of the players posted.  Also, a blog dedicated to the Heisman claimed the Georgia signal caller was fourth in line to receive the award, while the "Heisman Predictor" at ESPN predicts he will finish as high as the runner up.

The fact that a Bulldog quarterback is being touted as a Heisman candidate should be no surprise. In fact, of Georgia's last six quarterbacks who were starters for more than one season, including Murray, all but one (Mike Bobo) was considered a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy at some point during their collegiate careers.

Entering 2008, Vegas posted 14-to-1 odds that Matthew Stafford would win the trophy... That's rather high considering only six players had better odds, including a teammate of his, Knowshon Moreno at 10-to-1. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs' "blackout" rout at the hands of Alabama in the fifth game of the season ultimately ended any chances of Stafford, or Moreno for that matter, being in contention for the award.

After a solid three-season stint, David Greene entered his senior campaign of 2004 at 10-to-1 odds, or the fourth-best chance to receive the trophy. Like Stafford, any possibility of the Bulldog quarterback capturing the Heisman fizzled after a failed attempt in the fifth game of the season. For Greene, it came in a 15-of-34, 163-yard passing performance in a 19-14 upset loss to Tennessee.

In 2000, USA TODAY's Danny Sheridan gave Quincy Carter a 6-to-1 shot, or the sixth-best odds that year to take home the Heisman. Come to find out, Sheridan's opinion of the junior quarterback was about as legitimate as the oddsmaker's accusation from a year ago. In just the second game of the season, Carter quickly dropped out of contention during a horrendous, five-interception debacle against South Carolina.

Following a fine freshman performance by Eric Zeier in 1991, the quarterback phenom was already considered a contender for the award as a mere sophomore. In the summer of 1992, the aforementioned Sheridan declared Zeier as a possible winner of the trophy for the upcoming campaign, while going as far as actually predicting him to receive the Heisman in 1993.

Sheridan was just a bit off in his forecast as running back Garrison Hearst was the only Bulldog to make a run at the Heisman in 1992. In 1993, Zeier wouldn't win the trophy but did place 10th in the voting. This was somewhat of a remarkable accomplishment considering after the Bulldogs started the year with a 1-4 record, any discussion of Zeier and the Heisman had ceased. However, following three consecutive wins and a near victory over Florida, the quarterback had nearly played his way back into contention.

In 1994, Zeier entered the season as the top candidate for the award in many people's eyes.  Even after a 3-2 start to Georgia's year, the senior quarterback was still considered one of the top two or three contenders. However, any chance of receiving the Heisman ended for Zeier in an embarrassing 43-30 loss to Vanderbilt on Homecoming and a four-interception performance in a 38-point loss to Florida two weeks later. Zeier did wind up 7th in the Heisman voting, becoming just the third Bulldog in history (joining Frank Sinkwich and Herschel Walker) to finish in the Heisman's top ten on more than one occasion.
After his 124 rushing yards and five TDs against
Florida in 1976, Ray Goff was suddenly a legitimate 
Heisman Trophy candidate.
During the mid-1970s -- around the time when preseason Heisman Trophy contenders were first discussed in the media -- Georgia's Ray Goff was a fine quarterback, but certainly no Heisman candidate.  As he had done so as a sophomore in 1974 and junior in 1975, Goff began 1976 splitting time under center with fellow senior Matt Robinson; Goff was regarded as the "runner," Robinson the "passer."

In the final three games of the regular season, Goff nearly defeated Florida single handedly in a furious comeback victory, led Georgia to an SEC title at Auburn without throwing a single pass because of an injured throwing arm, and guided the Bulldogs into contention for a national championship with a memorable three-point win over Georgia Tech.

By the Georgia Tech game, Goff was running the entire offense while the one-time "passer" Robinson was left to merely hold for PATs and field goals. Two days after the victory over the Yellow Jackets, it was announced that Goff had finished 7th in the Heisman voting; two voters had even selected him as their winner of the award.

During 1976, Goff had thrown just 29 passes all year, accounted for less than 1,100 yards of total offense, and had split time with a teammate at his position for nearly the entire season. Regardless, by the end of the year, Goff was considered likely the best veer quarterback in the country and was recognized by Heisman voters as one of the best players in college football.

Pictured against Alabama in 1953, Zeke Bratkowski
throws one of his 26 errant passes on the year... but
that boy sure could punt!
Speaking of an era when it was obvious player statistics were not considered by all Heisman balloters...  A special mention must be made for Bulldog quarterback Zeke Bratkowski. "The Brat" isn't quite one of the few Georgia quarterbacks to finish in the Heisman Trophy's top ten, but did just miss out as a senior in 1953.

Quarterbacking a Georgia team that lost eight of 11 games, Bratkowski barely completed half of his passes and threw 20 more interceptions than touchdowns (26-6). However, the Bulldog quarterback-punter still remarkably finished 12th in the '53 voting and a mere three points behind the 10th spot.

Evidently Bratkowski's NCAA-leading 42.6 punting average was highly considered by those who voted him among college football's elite...

In closing, quarterbacks Eric Zeier, Ray Goff, and we'll even throw in "The Brat" make up an exclusive and elusive list of sorts. The fact Aaron Murray is currently regarded as a Heisman Trophy contender is all well and good, but something we Dawg fans have grown accustomed to in the preseason from our quarterbacks the last decade or so. Regardless of the possibility of winning the Heisman before the season actually kicks off, what really matters is where one stands after all of the ballots are submitted in December.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

like usual, good piece Patrick. whats even crazier than GA quarterbacks and the heisman is that no GA player no matter the position has finished in the heisman results since champ bailey sometime in the late 90s. i'd be willing to guess few big-time programs have gone as long without a player in the heisman's top ten.