Stats & Info: Matt Leinart

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Quarterback Matt Barkley smiles at the end of USC's 50-0 win over UCLA last season.

Other quarterbacks have chosen to stay in school when they stood to be prominent NFL Draft picks, as quarterback Matt Barkley has done at USC.

Let's take a statistical snapshot of recent examples to forgo the NFL Draft for one more year in the college ranks.

Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Manning still ended up as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft after returning to Tennessee for his senior season in 1997.

The Vols won the SEC Championship, beating Auburn, 30-29 before losing to Nebraska, 42-17 in the Orange Bowl. They finished No. 7 in the final AP poll.

Matt Leinart, USC

After winning a national title as a junior, Leinart returned for a memorable campaign in 2005, but one that floundered on a couple fronts.

A year after winning the Heisman Trophy, Leinart finished third in the balloting. His Trojans fell short of a second straight undefeated season and national championship, losing to Texas and quarterback Vince Young in a classic game.

Leinart ended up being selected 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2006 NFL Draft and has not yet flourished at the level he did in college.

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

After winning the Heisman Trophy and losing the national championship game to a Tim Tebow-led Florida team, Bradford returned for his junior year at Oklahoma. It did not go as planned.
Bradford suffered a shoulder injury in the Sooners first game of the season, then re-injured his shoulder upon returning to face Texas.

Bradford sat out the remainder of the season, then declared for the NFL Draft. He was taken by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 1 pick, and he has thrown for 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two NFL seasons.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck tested his luck by staying in school for his senior season in 2011, and the decision worked out well.

The Cardinal went 11-2 in Luck’s senior season, finishing No. 7 in the national rankings after a 41-38 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Luck is expected to be taken No. 1 in this year’s NFL Draft.
On Monday the five finalists invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony were revealed. This year has featured one of the most interesting races for the Heisman as no one player has stood from the rest.

Here's a look at what a Heisman Trophy win -- or loss -- would mean to these players and their respective schools.

Trent Richardson, Alabama
Two seasons ago Trent Richardson was a part of a National Championship team with a Heisman Trophy winner, when running back Mark Ingram became Alabama's first winner. Richardson has nearly identical numbers to Ingram this season, and has already totaled 23 touchdowns compared to Ingram's 20 TD's.

If Richardson were to win the award it would put him and Ingram in some rare company. In the history of the Heisman Trophy only three times have two different players playing the same position at the same school won the award in a span of three seasons. It last happened when USC QB Matt Leinart won it in 2004 after Carson Palmer had taken home the award in 2002.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck is listed second here as he finished second for the Heisman last season and Stanford has actually had the Heisman runner-up in each of the past two seasons (Toby Gerhart, 2009).

If Luck wins he would be the second player in Stanford history to win the award (Jim Plunkett, 1970) and join 1981 Herschel Walker as the only Heisman runner-ups to win the award the next season.

If Luck finishes second, Stanford would set a record. No school has ever had a Heisman runner-up in three consecutive seasons.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Montee Ball earned his invite thanks to his impressive numbers. Ball needs one touchdown in the Rose Bowl to tie Barry Sanders' FBS record for touchdowns in a season (39). Sanders won the Heimsan trophy during that 1988 season.

The last time a Big Ten player had 25 touchdowns was Eddie George during the 1995 season. George went on to win the Heisman trophy that year.

Robert Griffin III, Baylor
RGIII finished off a great regular season in which he threw 36 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions, while also leading Baylor to nine wins, its most since the 1986 season.

Griffin's invite is an accomplishment in its own considering he plays for Baylor. The Bears have only had one player finish in the top five of the Heisman vote in school history. In 1963 Don Trull finished fourth.

If Baylor's Robert Griffin III wins the Heisman Trophy this year, he will be just the third player since the BCS was established in 1998 to win the Heisman without his team playing in a BCS bowl game.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
The Honey Badger will take the trip to New York looking to join Charles Woodson as the only defensive backs to win the Heisman trophy.

Despite being a defensive player, recent history is on Mathieu's side to take home the award. Since 2003, seven of the past eight Heisman Trophy winners have come from the team at number one in the BCS standings entering the National Championship Game.
Matt Schaub
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is expected to miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury. At 7-3, the Texans are above .500 after 10 games for the first time in franchise history.

Schaub’s foot is just the latest injury for the Texans. Running back Arian Foster missed two of the team’s first three games, wide receiver Andre Johnson has missed the last six games with an injured hamstring and linebacker Mario Williams is out for the season.

Schaub has started 46 straight games for the Texans, and before missing the end of Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of seven quarterbacks to take every snap for his team this season.

Schaub is the Texans’ all-time leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards, attempts and completions. In 2009, he led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards. While he might not be a household name nationally, he is ranked fifth in Total QBR since the 2008 season.

He was at his best throwing the ball downfield, especially to injured All-Pro Johnson. Since the start of the 2008 season, Schaub led the NFL with a 56.1 completion percentage on throws 15+ yards downfield, and even with Johnson missing the last six weeks the duo lead the NFL with 2,215 yards on such throws.

Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart will take over as starting quarterback. Before finishing the Texans win in Tampa, Leinart hadn’t taken a snap since the end of the 2009 season.

Leinart is 7-10 as a starter in the NFL, with 11 of those starts coming in 2006 and just one since Week 5 of the 2007 season. In 30 career games, he has completed 57.1 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

He inherits an enviable position in Houston. The Texans, who have the third-ranked rushing offense in the NFL, have run the football 67 more times than any other team in the league. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only other team to call designed runs on more than half their snaps.

The running game will be tested without Schaub under center. The Texans could face more loaded boxes, but Foster and Ben Tate have proven capable at getting extra yards after contact. Houston leads the league in rush yards after contact this season.

Cam Newton's potentially historic draft

April, 13, 2011

If he's drafted No. 1 overall, Cam Newton will do something that hasn't happened since 1950.

In their most recent mock drafts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. are projecting that the Carolina Panthers will select Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Despite an uneven performance at the combine and questions about his off-the-field ambitions, Newton has steadily climbed Kiper’s and McShay’s draft boards since mid-January, when both had him going 10th to the Washington Redskins.

Four months after winning the Heisman Trophy and three months after leading Auburn to a national championship, Newton is on the verge of having his named called first on draft day. If so, Newton will be the first player selected first overall the year after winning a Heisman Trophy and national championship in more than 60 years. In fact, only two players have ever been drafted first the year after winning a Heisman and national title: Leon Hart in 1950, and Angelo Bertelli in 1944.

Both Hart and Bertelli starred at Notre Dame. Hart dominated on both sides of the ball for Notre Dame’s 1949 national championship team before being taken No. 1 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1950 NFL draft.

Bertelli won the Heisman in 1943, despite appearing in only six games before entering the Marine Corps. The quarterback was drafted by the Boston Yanks first overall in 1944, but elected to join Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference after completing his service in World War II.

While a player going No. 1 the year after winning a Heisman and national title is rare, Heisman Trophy recipients have been drafted first overall 18 times. If Newton is the first player off the board, then it will be the second straight year a Heisman winner was the top pick in the draft. (The St. Louis Rams picked Sam Bradford first in 2010.) The last time Heisman winners were drafted No. 1 overall in consecutive years was 1986-87, Bo Jackson and Vinny Testaverde. Oddly enough, Jackson was drafted in both years. The Raiders selected Jackson 183rd overall in 1987 after he opted to play baseball instead of signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986.

Of course, Newton isn’t the only Heisman Trophy winner who will be drafted. Alabama running back Mark Ingram (the 2009 Heisman winner) is expected to hear his name called sometime during the first round. The 2011 draft will be the third time since 2006 that there have been a pair of Heisman winners selected in the same draft: Bradford and Tim Tebow went in the first round last year; Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart both were top 10 picks in 2006.

Prior to that, multiple Heisman Trophy recipients hadn’t been picked in the same year since 1992 (Desmond Howard, Ty Detmer).

First look at 2010 NFL season

September, 7, 2010
We’ll kick off the 2010 season with a trivia question: Since the divisions were realigned in 2002, what are three teams that have NOT made the playoffs? (See below for answer.)

In 2009, six teams – the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets -- made the playoffs after missing the postseason the year before. That marked the 14th consecutive season at least five teams (out of 12 playoff teams) accomplished the feat.

The Saints rebounded to win the NFC South (and Super Bowl) after a last-place finish in 2008, marking an NFL-record seventh consecutive season that a team went from worst-to-first in its division. Of the 32 teams to go from worst-to-first in NFL history, 15 of them have done so in the past 10 years (2000-2009).

What’s the preseason meant in terms of win-loss to the AFC Champion champion Indianapolis Colts? Not much. They went 0-4 this preseason and are 2-11 in the preseason since 2008. Again, that means very little since the Colts, who have the best regular-season record over the last two seasons, 26-6. (Conversely, the Detroit Lions are 10-2 in the preseason since 2008, but 2-30 in the regular season.)
Matt Leinart
The Matt Leinart era ended somewhat abruptly when he was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week. While he’s landed with the Houston Texans, Leinart’s just the fourth QB drafted in the top 10 since 1990 to throw for fewer than 4,000 yards and have 20 interceptions in his first four seasons. The other three quarterbacks: David Klingler, Heath Shuler and Ryan Leaf.

The AFC West is the only division that will start this season without a 1,000-yard wide receiver from 2009 on the field in Week 1. (The San Diego Chargers Vincent Jackson, who had 1,167 yards in 2009, is refusing to sign his tender and will start the season by serving a three-game suspension.)
Brett Favre
Perhaps one motivating factor for the Minnesota Vikings Brett Favre to return for a 20th season? He needs just three touchdown passes to be the first QB in NFL history to reach 500.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won their last seven season openers, the longest active streak in the NFL. The team with the longest active Week 1 losing streak? The Oakland Raiders at seven straight.

The San Francisco 49ers will log the most frequent flier miles in 2010 (35,219). That’s more than six times the amount of miles the Cincinnati Bengals will log in 2010. Cincy’s 6,688 miles will be the fewest traveled by a team in 2010.

For the fourth consecutive season, NFC West teams have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions (101,264).

Answer: The three teams that have NOT made the playoffs since the divisions realigned in 2002 are the Buffalo Bills, Lions and Texans.