Tako Tuesdays Needs You to Get the Word Out

Knock knock! Who's there? Interrupting starfish! Interrupting starf- - Jeff Zelevansky

It's the most important decision of 2012. And we need you to do some campaigning for the only serious candidate around: Kenjon Barner.

First off, it isn't any of my business who you're voting for. But if you're registered to vote, there's no reason why you should sit this one out, and it isn't just the biggest choice on the ballot. All the local measures and officials, wherever you may lay your head, need your attention too. So take the twenty minutes, get that sticker, and feel a little better about your Tuesday. And to my international readers who aren't voting today: maybe volunteer, or donate some money to charity. Or maybe just read all my articles, and send them to your friends. It's about making the world a better place, is what I'm saying.

On to the stuff that matters: what are we gonna do about this Heisman Trophy?

Preseason favorite Denard Robinson has been injured and not as spectacular as we expected. Fellow preseason favorite Tyrann Mathieu is not currently playing football. Week 1 favorite LeVeon Bell has faded into five-loss obscurity. West Virginia's Geno Smith, considered a near-lock just a month ago, is in free fall, losing three straight games and exposed as a still-raw talent. Braxton Miller has the misfortune of making his home in Sanctionsville. And current favorite Collin Klein fits snugly into the Jason White/Chris Weinke/Gino Torretta class of "Effective and Decidedly Unsexy Quarterbacks With No Chance of an NFL Career". Oh, and he might have a concussion.

That brings us to Oregon running back Kenjon Barner. The former three-star defensive back recruit has turned into the most dangerous running back in college football. He ranks third in the country in rushing, second in rushing touchdowns, and sprinkles in a couple receptions per game for good measure. His 321 yard performance against USC, the most rushing yards all-time against the Trojans, put him firmly on the Heisman radar. But shouldn't he be at the top by now? Let's take a look at what Barner has in his favor:

  • The Stats - KJB is on pace for 1871 yards rushing, 28 touchdowns, with 228 more receiving yards on top. His 7.2 yards/carry would be the highest average for a Heisman trophy winning running back since Barry Sanders. And keep in mind, these averages are based upon eight half-games, and USC. Barner needs to average 177 yards per game over these last four game to reach 2000 yards.
  • The Team - Every Heisman winner needs a strong team surrounding him, and this Oregon squad fits the definition. Heisman voters love voting for a player on a top-five team; losing games is what has sunk the candidacies of Robinson and Smith in particular. And as long as Oregon remains undefeated, Barner will remain in the conversation.
  • The System - An Oregon running back will always get attention, as long as the Ducks run Chip Kelly's system. And with De'Anthony Thomas' relative ineffectiveness as a true running back thus far this season, it looks to be Barner's show from here on out, with dashes of Byron Marshall if Barner literally can't get up off the bench and run around. This is officially KJB's world, and we're just watching it in awe.
So Kenjon Barner has the Heisman credentials. But that just isn't enough. To win the Heisman in the 21st century, you need some hype. A lot of hype. Bushels and bushels of the highest-quality hype on the market. Case in point: AJ McCarron. Entering the final drive against LSU, McCarron was 10-22 passing for 93 yards. But that one drive, 4-5 for 72 yards, erased 58 minutes of mediocrity. And for many Heisman voters, one drive is more important than sixty minutes of domination. I'd argue that Barner's fourth quarter - 12 carries, 71 yards, two touchdowns - was equally, if not more, important to his team's success in getting the win. And he did it after playing the first three quarters at an even higher rate (26 carries, 250 yards, three TDs). Unfortunately, Barner wasn't able to scrunch his performance into an easily-to-digest package.

So as not to have my message misinterpreted: AJ McCarron is a very good quarterback. A 67% completion rate, and 19 touchdowns without an interception are very good numbers, numbers that give a team built on running the ball and playing great defense an excellent shot to go 14-0. Those are not, however, Heisman numbers. In fact, those numbers are very similar to the numbers being put up by Oregon's quarterback, Marcus Mariota: McCarron throws for more yards, Mariota has a higher completion rate, McCarron throws less picks, Mariota has infinitely more rushing yards. They're both quarterbacking undefeated teams, teams with the inside track on the national title game. But no one's calling Marcus Mariota a Heisman trophy candidate.

Kenjon Barner needs help, but not on the field. He needs some buzz, and it's up to us to give it to him. You'll never hear Barner campaign for himself; he's far too reserved and humble for that. And Chip Kelly has always championed a team attitude with his players, and holds a general indifference toward individual honors; you didn't hear a PSA from Coach Kelly fighting for LaMichael James' Heisman bid, and you won't hear one this year for Barner. So h needs his hype from other sources. He needs the athletic department's help, perhaps in the form of a viral video starring our good friend the Duck; he needs the Pac-12's help, rallying the rest of the conference in a united effort; and he needs help from Duck fans around the country, singing the praises of their star.

This vote is too important to not get involved; tell your friends, Tweet about it (#KB4NYC), help distribute rubber ducks with #24 drawn on them all around Manhattan and Tuscaloosa. Whatever way you can help, Kenjon Barner should would appreciate it. Let's make this happen Duck fans!
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