Recently, there has been some noise that Jevan Snead is deserving of a full-on Heisman campaign from Ole Miss as many feel that he is, at least, a very dark horse. Is that at all of merit? Should Jevan Snead be mentioned as being in the same league as Heisman frontrunners Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford?
First, let's go into some detail about why some would believe Snead should be considered a contender.
While many people know that Jevan Snead had a good ending to the regular season last year, few actually know more than that vapid statement. Season preview after season preview talks about how great he was in the second half of the season, throwing many more touchdowns than picks, but none have truly articulated just how good Jevan was in the final six games of last season.
Those are Jevan's numbers from the five final regular season games and the Cotton Bowl. These are the games that made him a household name.
The row labeled "Over 12 Game Span" is a statistic, however flawed, of what Snead's numbers would look like if he played the same caliber of football for twelve games of the season that he played for the final six games of 2008. Those numbers are remarkable. Thirty-two touchdowns. Six interceptions.
Many people might be eyeing Snead's less-than-ideal completion percentage, and I can understand that. Hell, Colt McCoy completed more than 70% of his passes last season and finished third for the Heisman. However, Snead's decision-making during that stretch of six games cannot be overstated. He generally threw the ball where only his receivers could get it. He did not rely on jump balls for big yardage. Snead often threw the ball too long on deep routes and too short on short routes, but that is, at least to some extent, by design. It's okay to overthrow a fade. It's okay to underthrow a hook. What you don't want to do is overthrow hooks and underthrow fades. Snead didn't do that.
Now sure, as I said, the statistic is flawed. It is unreasonable to believe that Snead could duplicate that success for 12 games with a different team and a different schedule, but how just unreasonable? One of the most difficult teams on the Rebels' schedule this season is LSU, a team that is included in Snead's end-of-the-season statistics explosion. If there's one thing Ole Miss has, it's a schedule full of teams the Rebels should beat mercilessly. Five of the six games looked at in this analysis were against BCS conference schools. It's not as if these final six games were against FCS schools and Syracuse.
Ole Miss will play two highly touted secondaries in the entire regular season: Alabama and LSU. Against one of those (LSU) last season, Snead passed for 274 yards and completed 64 percent of his passes. If Jevan's worst game of this upcoming season replicates his game against Bama last year (16/31, 192 yds, 51.6% completion, 6.19 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT), he will have had an incredible season.
Yes, the Rebels did lose a big receiver last season's NFL draft (current Steeler and 3rd round pick Mike Wallace), but not enough credit is being given to senior receivers Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster by the Rebels' offensive detractors. Both will continue to support their quarterback with big plays and excellent production. Also, the Rebels added an incredible threat in true freshman WR Patrick Patterson who I have personally seen catch Jevan's passes in practices. The freshman receiver can grab almost every ball that comes his way and will be a huge asset in possession and jump ball situations.
Even though Jevan has a lot going for him this year, I just don't see any way that he could finish any higher than fourth in the Heisman voting, and that's being generous. With the top three vote-getters returning, including two former winners, Snead would have to pass for over 4,000 yards this year in order to merit significant consideration. History tells us that the Heisman voters don't care enough about sound quarterback play. They care more about who puts up the stats, and Snead just isn't going to be one of those guys. While the Rebels do throw a good bit, a Houston Nutt coached team will, upon establishing a sizable lead, rely on the what was the #2 rushing attack in the conference last season. Unfortunately, Ole Miss' weak schedule could actually hurt Jevan's production and therefore his Heisman chances.
Another problem for Snead is--and I'm going to do the best I can to not sound paranoid here--the fact that the rest of the country hates the SEC. Many Heisman voters from outside of the South intentionally ranked Tebow low so that he would not receive the trophy last year. That resulted in Tebow being the first Heisman candidate ever to garner the most first place votes but not win the award.
That touches on the last, and perhaps most unfortunate, negative Snead has going for him with regards to his Heisma nchances: Tim Tebow. Not only is he possibly the best quarterback to ever play the game on the college level, but he's also in the same region of the country as Snead. Snead won't be getting overranked in the South like most Southern candidates do. He'll rank well behind Tebow, solidifying his Heisman doom.
None of this is to bemoan Snead as a truly elite quarterback. NFL scouts are already drooling over the Rebel quarterback. He has a cannon arm, great touch, ideal size and good decision making skills. He's just not a media darling. He's quiet, and he wins. He manages his team to victory. He doesn't demolish stats columns with overwhelming numbers. He doesn't play for USC or Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Snead is simply not what Heisman voters want in a quarterback.
Of course, if he were to return to Ole Miss for his senior season...