Winston has tough road for Heisman repeat

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
11:03
AM ET

Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesJameis Winston was the third Florida State player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy in dominant fashion a year ago, winning by the fifth-largest margin in terms of percentage points in the last 50 years (32 percent).

Winston -- entering his sophomore season of eligibility -- is the odds-on favorite to win again in 2014.

Repeating is rare
There have been 13 players who returned to college football the year after winning the Heisman Trophy, and only one -- Archie Griffin in 1975 -- was able to repeat.

Billy Sims in 1979 finished second, while Tim Tebow (2008), Matt Leinart (2005), Jason White (2004), Ty Detmer (1991) and Doak Walker (1949) all finished third in the voting.

The issue for many of these players is that they were unable to replicate or improve their production and team success from their Heisman-winning seasons.

Of those 13 Heisman winners who came back to school, two (Leinart and Walker) accounted for more yards of total offense in the season after winning the award. On average, these players accounted for almost 650 fewer yards of total offense the next year.

Similarly, only Tebow in 2008 and Griffin in 1975 played on teams that increased their win total the season after the player won the Heisman (three others matched their win total). On average, repeat Heisman winners lost 1½ more games the year after winning the award.

Decline of overall production
Winston set national freshman records in passing yards (4,057) and passing touchdowns (40), but these numbers may be difficult to replicate considering the talent that he lost on offense.

A lot of Winston’s success last season was predicated on his deep ball; he gained more yards on passes traveling 15 yards or longer than any other AQ quarterback.

This season, Winston will be without his top two deep threats from 2013, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, who both moved onto the NFL.

Without these players, Winston will have to rely on Rashad Greene and an inexperienced group of receivers and running backs to match his production from a season ago.

Undefeated or bust for Florida State
Florida State should enter the 2014 season as the preseason favorite in The Associated Press poll (the Seminoles are No. 1 in the Coaches Poll), and anything but perfection may be seen as a failure in the eyes of Heisman voters.

Since 1980, only two teams that were ranked preseason No. 1 in the AP poll finished the season undefeated, the last being USC in 2004.

That group of preseason favorites averaged two losses and had an average final rank of sixth in the AP Poll.

Duplicating its undefeated season may be difficult for Florida State because of a tougher nonconference schedule.

The Seminoles have added Oklahoma State and Notre Dame this year, in place of Nevada and Idaho. Additionally, they should face an improved Florida team in their final regular-season game.

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