Thursday, December 6, 2012

The case for Marcus Mariota over Johnny Manziel

Marcus Mariota - Oregon v Oregon State

Before they took the nation by storm as redshirt freshmen QB's, both Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel were committed to Oregon. Eventually though, the native Texan Manziel switched to Texas A&M, and has been the talk of the country this season. The attention is largely warranted. His numbers have been pretty darn good. He has more total yards this season than two previous Heisman winners from the SEC, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, had during their Heisman years. It's highly likely that Manziel will become the first freshman to hoist the coveted trophy this coming Saturday....but he doesn't deserve it, at least not this year. I'm not knocking his talent or the season he's had. He's a great player and definitely at least deserves to be a finalist this season. However, I think that the Heisman trophy has sort of turned into a popularity contest that goes to the player who is the most hyped on one of the nation's top teams. It rarely goes to the actual best player anymore. Even though I'm not arguing about who deserves it this year, I will say that Marqise Lee should win it, but he won't because he isn't a finalist. Although I despise USC, just think about how good he's been this year. There wasn't a defense that shut him down this year, and if Matt Barkley plays against Notre Dame, the Trojans win going away. All he'd have to do was drop back and chuck it deep, because he knew that Lee would come down with it 9 times out of 10. Alas, this is merely wishful thinking and not relevant to the subject I'm trying to get at.

Johnny Manziel is going to win the Heisman based off his performance in ONE GAME, and you already know which game I'm referring to. Yes, his numbers throughout the course of the season have been really impressive, but don't forget the LSU game where he threw 3 picks and lost his team that game. Losses are supposed to derail a candidate's Heisman train, but maybe it's because the 'Bama game was after LSU that this didn't negatively impact Manziel. Still, if we're going to talk about statistics, then this one needs to be mentioned: Texas A&M had a 44-10 lead against a bad Arkansas team, and Manziel was still playing deep into the 4th quarter. Not only was he playing, he was still running the ball into their defense. It's just stupid why any coach would accept such a risk on their quarterback. I'm glad Chip Kelly isn't that irresponsible. Manziel also benefits from a sketchy Texas A&M defense. They gave up 56 points to Louisiana Tech. He was in the game far longer in quite a few games that Mariota wasn't, because Chip pulled him and the other starters when they got a big lead. For the record, I don't think Mariota should be a Heisman candidate this year, but most definitely next year. 

For those arguing in favor of Manziel, you could make the case that he's played some tougher teams than Mariota has, and I don't think even the most diehard Oregon fan like myself could dispute that. Certainly, playing well against top teams helps your Heisman case, and both QB's have done that. They have also had subpar or merely average outings when their teams lost, Manziel against the aforementioned LSU and Mariota against Stanford. By and large, though, both QB's have been spectacular throughout the season. However, using projected statistics, I discovered something that I already believe to be true: Marcus Mariota is every bit as good as Johnny Manziel, if not better. To be honest, I'm really glad that we have a classy head coach who instills in his guys that it's not about individual honors, because we definitely have some of the best players in the country, but they don't get as much attention as they deserve because they routinely get taken out of games in which the Ducks have built an insurmountable lead. With that being said, below are the projected stats that Mariota would have put up if he'd played as much as Manziel:


Mariota: Comp/Att/yards: 327/468, 3767 yds 
                  Yards per play: 8.0 
                  Comp%: 69.9% 
                  TD's: 45 
                   Int: 9

Manziel: Comp/Att/Yards: 273/400, 3419yds 
                Yards per play: 8.5yds 
                 Comp%: 68.3% 
                  TD's: 24 
                   Int: 8


Mariota: Att/yds: 147/1035 yds 
                Yds per carry: 7.0yds 
                Long: 86yds 
                TD's: 8

Manziel: Att/Yds: 184/1181yds 
                Yds per carry: 6.4yds 
                 Long: 72 
                 TD's: 19


Mariota: 4802
Manziel: 4652

Pretty scary how similar these kids are. Mariota seems to be the better passer and Manziel the better runner, but you have to take into consideration that Manziel was A&M's leading rusher, and Mariota had perhaps the best RB unit backing him in Barner, DAT and Marshall.
So obviously, Mariota did not have to carry the rock nearly as much as Manziel. Unfortunately, the Heisman commitee doesn't crunch numbers like those above, but I think it's clearly obvious Mariota should've been in the Heisman conversation more. What's clear is that both these guys are incredibly talented and are going to be fun to watch in the coming years. Clearly, LaMichael James knew what he was talking about when he said that Mariota could end up being the best quarterback to ever play at Oregon. No disrespect to Johnny Manziel, but I'll take Marcus Mariota any day. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Girl Who Changed My Life (and is still changing it) Forever

I don't know why I'm doing this now, but it's long overdue. I really ought to be sleeping, since I have a job that starts at the unearthly hour of 4 am, but I can't sleep with a restless mind.  Check that: A mind that is overflowing with gratitude to my Heavenly Father for sending into my life the most incredible girl that I will ever know. I kid you not when I say that just minutes ago, as I was lying snug in my bed, I just started crying for what might seem like no reason. I hardly cry at all, as those who know me best will agree. Oh, but there was a reason for this one, but it was a good reason. It's the same reason that's been in place since October 29, 2011, when my life began to take the greatest turn for the best that it's ever taken before. That "reason" is a certain Anna Marie Hansen. And yes, she is that "most incredible girl" that I just mentioned, if you hadn't already figured that one out on your own. Not a day has passed since I met her that I haven't thanked God for bringing her into my life, even on that first day when we talked for 4 hours, and I left feeling like I'd just gotten reacquainted with a long-lost friend. Yep, we hit it off that well the first night. To this day, my only regret from our initial encounter was that I didn't hug her when I wished her a good night. Luckily, we've shared many hugs since then that I feel confident have filled in that one gap. It's not everyday that someone walks into your life and changes it in a profound and lasting way. Anna has done that for me, and she is still doing it one day at a time.

Before I met her, I thought I was pretty good guy overall; I tried not to do anything stupid, I treated my fellowman with respect, I spent time with family, I worked hard at my job, I stayed in shape by playing basketball and exercising regularly, I attended all my Church meetings....things like that. Still though, there was a gaping hole in my life which had never been filled in before, and you could attribute that to fear, lack of desire, lack of effort, or just plain laziness. That area was dating, something I never took seriously, even though I knew in the back of my mind that as an RM, I should have been more serious about it. That's why what happened on October 29th still amazes me. My childhood friend Ben had become friends with Anna that semester while they were in the same family home evening group. After getting to know her some, he determined (I now call it revelation) that Anna should meet me when I came to Rexburg on a visit at the end of the month. The initial aim of my visit was simply to spend time with Ben and my other close friend Aaron, and partake in our weekly fall ritual of Oregon Ducks football that Saturday. Well we did, but the Lord had other more important plans in mind for me. When Anna came into the lounge that day, and this is her account of the story, I turned to look at her and my mouth promptly fell open. I'm still somewhat surprised that she didn't turn and walk right back out of the room. In fact, she said that she was quite flattered and felt good inside. Must have been divine intervention on that one, because I easily could have been perceived as yet another of the many "creepers" who roam the streets and apartment complexes of Rexburg in an often desperate search for a significant other. I'm not going to open the can of worms on that sideshow, so don't ask.

Back to square one: I can honestly tell you that when my eyes first beheld Anna Hansen, I felt she was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen. I know that more and more now as the days go by. Not only that, but I knew she was completely pure, worthy, sincere, and humble....and this was before I'd even said one word to her! Well to make a long story short, it was the beginning of a friendship that now has us happily engaged and preparing with excitement for our wedding in the Reno Nevada Temple on August 4th. I didn't see this coming AT ALL back in early October, and anytime before that, but the Lord did. He has given us numerous experiences that have prepared us for one another, and He will be the foundation of our eternal marriage. Eternal!! I can't fully comprehend the significance of that word! To know that I will be spending forever with my very best friend is really what caused me to randomly start crying this evening. She is the love of my life, my biggest fan, my spiritual superior, my shoulder to lean on and cry on, my voice of assurance when things are tough, my whole universe. Everything that Anna does, she does for others. There is not a selfish bone in her body. For a guy that can count on one hand the number of dates he's been on, I consider myself pretty darn lucky that I've got her in my life now. I am a better person in every way because of her; because of her, I know more than ever before what it really means to honor the sacred priesthood authority which I hold, and I do that by honoring and respecting her for the angel and choice daughter of God that she is. It's not easy being in separate locations right now, but we know that it's only a blip compared to the number of days, months, and years that we'll be together. They say that everyone is superior to you in at least one way. Well, in the case of my Anna, she is superior to me in pretty much every way that matters. There is nobody in this whole universe that I would rather share the journey with.