ACC Football 2012 Heisman Watch: Week Seven

After Another Stellar Performance This Weekend, Tajh Boyd Takes Over the Top Spot in Our Heisman Watch

With Florida State’s loss last week, it appears that the ACC‘s dream scenario — its first Heisman trophy winner in over a decade — was lost as well. So, as promised, for the remainder of this season, we’ll now be compiling a watch list for the fictional Chris Weinke Award, to honor the best player in the ACC. These posts will remain under “Heisman Watch” however, for the purposes of consistency and SEO. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (1,974 total yards, 16 total TD, 5 INT, 68.2 percent completion) (LW: 2)

Boyd has been a man on fire these past two weeks, racking up 869 total yards and seven total scores. He even caught a pass for a two-point conversion last Saturday. So while he’s a very long shot to win the Heisman, there’s no player better suited to win the first annual Chris Weinke Award. The Clemson junior is now — more than he ever has been — the axis on which the Tigers’ offense rotates, and is catapulting himself through the school’s record books as well.

2. DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson (49 catches, 777 yards, 8 TD) (LW: 3)

But what would Boyd be without his new primary target, “Nuk” Hopkins? Whether Sammy Watkins has played or not, this junior wideout has been a force, and some would say among the best at his position. In just six games, he’s already just 23 catches shy of his total from all of 2011, and his eight scores are one less than his career total coming into this season. Hopkins is a playmaker who flat-out takes over games, and as long as he’s on the field, it’s been damn-near impossible to completely shut down the Clemson offensive attack.

3. EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (1,546 total yards, 11 total TD, 2 INT, 70.5 percent completion) (LW: 1)

Now that his team’s lost a game, it’s easy for Manuel’s resume to get overshadowed by the above duo from Clemson. What’s not easy to get overshadowed is the effect Manuel’s decline over the past two weeks has had on results for the ‘Noles. After compiling 482 total yards against the Tigers, the senior has tallied just 453 in his past two games combined. His team’s gone 1-1, and has failed to look very dominant in either contest. Blame the playcalling if you must, but nonetheless, this Seminole is no longer a frontrunner as the conference’s best.

4. Bryn Renner, QB/North Carolina (1,616 passing yards, 16 total TD, 4 INT, 62.7 percent completion) (LW: NR)

Due to his team’s two losses and its postseason ineligibility, Renner’s managed to fly under the radar for many this season. Now, we won’t deny these numbers are slightly padded by two games against inferior competition. But then again, so are Manuel’s. Renner has thrived in Larry Fedora’s offense, cutting down on mistakes like sacks and turnovers, and managing to throw the ball away much more than he had previously. If running back Giovani Bernard proves himself to be 100-percent healthy, too, the junior passer could be in for a huge second half.

5. Duke Johnson, RB/Miami (1,010 all-purpose yards, 7 total TD) (LW: NR)

Like his team, Johnson lost some momentum after a subpar game last week. However, his body of work still dwarfs that of virtually every other running back in the conference. Similar to Sammy Watkins last year, Johnson’s burst onto the scene and made an impact in every aspect of the game. In terms of all-purpose yards, he’s nearly 250 ahead of his nearest competitor. I won’t deny he’s been shut down a bit by some tough defenses. But for Johnson, “shut down” still equates to over 70 total yards and added attention in both the running and passing game.

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