Three-point stance: Harbaugh will have last laugh; fab frosh; Heisman race
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s thought-provoking Three-Point Stance is here with some thoughts on Jim Harbaugh, his Farrell Freshman Five and his Heisman list after week six.
1. HARBAUGH VS. ... BUTCH JONES?
What I’m about to write will tick off thousands of fans and please thousands more. So here goes nothing. In the last nine games, embattled Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is 6-3 while beloved Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is 5-4.
That’s correct. A man who is being ushered out the door in Knoxville has a better record since November of last year than the man hailed as the savior in Ann Arbor. Why do I bring this up? Because much has been made this week about Harbaugh’s record against Michigan State (1-2) and Ohio State (0-2) and about how his record 31 games into his career at Michigan is the same as Brady Hoke, a man deemed as a colossal failure with the Wolverines.
But yet Harbaugh is untouchable at Michigan while Jones, with a similar record since 2014 (Harbaugh is 24-7, Jones is 21-10) is apparently on his way out in Knoxville. Why the difference? Because in two years, Jones will be an assistant coach (like Hoke is) while Harbaugh will be pushing his team towards the playoff.
Wait, what? Yes, that’s correct. In a couple of years, Harbaugh will be laughing at everyone questioning his record against Michigan State and Ohio State and he will have his team playing either in the playoff or for a national title. And this comes from the guy who said Harbaugh could never win the big one at Michigan.
Why do I say this? Because despite the offensive line woes and recent quarterback struggles, Harbaugh is a great coach and finds ways to motivate his team and push players to get better. Jones, on the other hand, comes up with phrases like “champions of life” and “leadership reps”.
But this isn’t about Harbaugh versus Jones, this is about Harbaugh versus the world and that’s the way he likes it. Harbaugh could very well win 10 games again this season after losing a ton of talent off of last year’s roster and it will be the next year or year after that he makes his run. Recruiting has been good, player development has been excellent and he has Don Brown leading the defense. It’s an interesting stat regarding Harbaugh and Jones I pulled up, but be careful who you throw stones at just yet. Harbaugh has a long memory.
2. FARRELL'S FRESHMEN FIVE
It’s time for my Farrell Freshman Five again, the best true freshmen I saw this week. Keep in mind, I didn’t see every game or every play so these are the players that stood out to me.
• Sam Ehlinger, Texas – What a game as Ehlinger makes the list for the second time this season. We saw something there for the USC game, but now we could be seeing the start of a magnificent career. Kansas State gives Texas fits, but this freshman didn’t get the memo.
• Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – Taylor has been so good, he’s the first true freshman to make my Heisman list (below). Over 200 yards and carrying the offense once again, he’s become a regular on this list. The Nebraska defense knew what was coming and couldn’t stop it.
• Cam Akers, Florida State – Akers is an absolute beast and it was only a matter of time before he broke out. Even with a weak offensive line, he is tough to tackle and gained plenty of yardage after contact in rushing for more than 100 against a tough Miami defense.
• Lynn Bowden, Kentucky – Bowden has the wiggle and swagger than Kentucky hasn’t had on offense in a while and he will add touches as the season progresses. He’s becoming the kind of player who needs 15 to 20 touches somehow per game.
• Hunter Bryant, Washington – The big tight end was No. 4 in the nation for us at his position last year and had a huge game with 9 catches for 121 yards and a score as he becomes more of an important part of the offense.
NEW LEADER IN HEISMAN RACE
My week six Heisman list has a new leader and the race has become a bit more interesting. Here it is.
1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State (last week No. 2) – Barkley moves to the front of the pack with Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State. He’s still on pace for a monster season despite a pedestrian game (84 total yards, 2 TDs) against Northwestern.
2. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (last week No. 1) – The loss to Iowa State hurts but it certainly doesn’t put Mayfield out of the race. He wasn’t the issue in the loss, it was the defense, and he could still easily win this thing.
3. Bryce Love, Stanford (last week No. 3) – Another huge game for the nation’s leading rusher with 154 yards at No. 20 Utah, has him gaining on the leaders. If Stanford can win out and he continues to put up these numbers, he could win even if Christian McCaffrey never did.
4. Luke Falk, Washington State (last week No. 4) – A solid game for Falk against Oregon keeps him in range although bigger numbers might have been expected against a still young defense. He’s outside the top three by quite a bit right now.
7. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (last week No. 7) – Third nationally in rushing yards per game, he likely doesn’t have much of a chance but he remains on the list because he’s consistent and his team is good.
8. Christian Wilkins, Clemson (last week No. 8) – I keep him here out of stubbornness because I see others keeping Ed Oliver and Minkah Fitzppatrick as well. Fitzpatrick could surpass him here though soon.