Wallace's season turning into one wild run
This is a small snapshot of what it's like to be Seneca Wallace, Heisman Trophy candidate:
On Sunday cameras from MTV taped a crew from The Best Damn Sports Show as it taped a segment with Wallace.
"It was strange," Wallace said. "I never thought I'd be in a situation where MTV would follow me around."
Wallace is scheduled to appear on MTV's True Life show on a segment called "I'm a Heisman Trophy Candidate." The show is set to run on Dec. 22, by which time Wallace could be much more than that. The Heisman trophy will be handed out on Dec. 14th at the Yale Club in downtown Manhattan and it's looking more and more like Wallace could get it.
At VoteHeisman.com, where fans pick a candidate to get one vote in the official Heisman balloting, Wallace is running second to Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett. As of Tuesday morning Clarett had 24.7 percent of the vote; Wallace had 17.4 percent. This week Wallace jumped to the top of the Rocky Mountain News' weekly poll of 10 Heisman voters, usually an accurate gauge of how the voting will go (though it is stacked with five voters from Big 12 markets).
Wallace signed with Oregon State out of high school as a defensive back and transferred to Sacramento City College, where he saw most of his time early in his tenure there as a wide receiver.
"Coming out of high school I thought, 'I'm a DB now,"' Wallace said.
But ISU coach Dan McCarney saw the QB in him. McCarney said he could tell by watching the first tape he saw of Wallace that he was special.
"On the tapes we watched we saw exactly what we wanted to see," McCarney said of the 5-foot-10, 193-pounder from Sacramento, Calif. "He's efficient in the pocket and on the outside. And he's always had magic feet. He believes in his heart that he's a thrower first and a runner second."
Though McCarney said he valued Wallace's quiet, 6-for-6 efficiency on the game breaking drive against Texas Tech last week, it was a 12-yard run against Texas Tech that stood out and has been replayed hundreds of times across the nation. Facing second down with the score tied at 3-3, Wallace dropped back to pass and, finding his receivers covered, made like a diamondback on Arizona pavement. First he went left. Then right. Then backward to avoid a tackler. Then he cut to the right sideline. Then he ran across the field to the far corner for a touchdown.
ISU sports information director Tom Kroeschell said the school figured that Wallace ran 135 yards in the 17 seconds it took to complete the play.
"You could run that thing 100 times and not get tired of watching it," McCarney said.
Wallace said he's seen it exactly one, in the mandatory film review on Monday.
That is exactly the type of signature moment that wins Heisman Trophies.
"He's every defensive coach's nightmare," said OU co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables, whose Sooners must try to stop Wallace on Saturday. "He's fabulous with his arm, fabulous with his legs. And he makes great decisions. There's a difference between speed and quickness, but he has them both.
"He's a play-making fool."
No. 2 OU has had trouble with running quarterbacks this year, the most glaring a 213-yard rushing performance by Brad Smith of Missouri. Venables said Wallace is can improvise on the perimeter and break down defenses with his running, but he can't be typecast as a running quarterback.
"A lot of times those guys have tunnel vision," he said. "They just want to be running backs. That's not Seneca."
From a darkhorse candidate in the preseason, Wallace has emerged as a favorite who has built up enough good will that even a bad game -- and ISU plays a schedule that could result in such a game -- won't much discount his candidacy. After the Sooners, the Cyclones play at No. 8 Texas, at home against Missouri and then at No. 19 Kansas State and No. 25 Colorado.
"Along as keep winning something's going well for us," Wallace said. "As long as we keep winning everything's all right."
Around the Big 12
Baylor coach Kevin Steele blew an opportunity to give his team some confidence when he opted to go for it on fourth-and-one inside the A&M 1-yard line instead of kicking the field goal that would have given the Bears a lead over the heavily favored Aggies. Jonathan Golden was stopped on the play and Steele later said the play "went the wrong way," though he did not elaborate. … BU is ranked a surprising 26th in the nation in rush defense (114 yards a game), though that will be severely tested this week by Colorado halfback Chris Brown, who averages 7.0 yards a carry. … Baylor's minus-14 turnover margin is tied for last in I-A. A main reason has been the recent play of Aaron Karas, who has thrown nine interceptions in his last three games.
Colorado running back Chris Brown has become a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate with his 309-yard rushing performance against Kansas. The junior is averaging 164.5 yards a game, 8.2 more than the nation's second leading rusher, Michael Turner of Northern Illinois. Coach Gary Barnett indicated that he would nix a promotional campaign for Brown, saying he needs to win it on the field. Brown became the third Buffalo to break the 300-yard mark, joining Rashaan Salaam (318 yards against Texas in 1994) and Charlie Davis (342 against Oklahoma State in 1971). … Running back Marcus Houston is closer to coming back from a knee injury but is still listed as doubtful to play this week against Baylor.
Iowa State's trip into uncharted territory continues. The Cyclone's No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press poll is the highest in school history, surpassing the No. 11 ranking of a week ago. The 6-1 start is the best since 1938, when they started 7-0, and they're 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1949, when they finished 3-3 in the Big Six. … Before the win over Texas Tech last week the Cyclones broke ground on the $9.3 million Indoor Multisport Use and Training Facility, which will include an indoor football facility. … Mike Wagner will continue to start at halfback in place of Hiawatha Rutland, who's coming back from an ankle sprain. Wagner led the Cyclones in rushing against Tech, with 102 yards.
Kansas junior Zach Dyer began the season as the Jayhawks' starting quarterback but was beaten out in the opener by JUCO transfer Bill Whittemore. Dyer found a way to get on the field, though, moving to safety last week. Dyer, who split time as the starting quarterback last year, had eight tackles against Colorado. "We're going to get our best players on the field," said KU coach Mark Mangino. "He's too big, he's too strong, he's too quick and he's too talented to be standing next to me on Saturdays." With Dyer at safety, Jonas Weatherbie is the No. 2 quarterback and redshirt freshman Brian Luke, who's coming back from a hand injury, is at No. 3. … Twins Ronnie and Donnie Amadi had a combined career first against Colorado, starting at the cornerback spots.
Kansas State's new Field Turf has apparently created some problems with the Wildcats' kicking. KSU had three PATs blocked by Oklahoma State, one by Jared Brite and two by Joe Rheem, who has made only 17 of 21 PAT attempts this season. "I'm hitting the ground behind the ball and this stuff really grabs your foot," Rheem said. "When that happens it bounces your foot up so it hits the top of the ball, which sends the ball low." One of the blocked PATs was returned for a defensive score. … After being riddled by Colorado, KSU's secondary had two new starters against OSU. Freshman Jesse Tetuan got his first college start at free safety, beating out James McGill and Bobby Walker, who was sidelined with a pulled leg muscle. Senior James Dunnigan started in place of Randy Jordan at cornerback.
Missouri quarterback Brad Smith's meteoric rise as the Big 12's best quarterback not named Seneca Wallace or Kliff Kingsbury hit the skids against Nebraska. Smith, asked to throw much more than run, had a season-low 157 yards total offense, far below his average of 332. … Former quarterback Darius Outlaw has emerged as a strong complement to Justin Gage at wide receiver. Outlaw, who started two games at quarterback last season, had five catches for 71 yards, both career highs. Outlaw and the receiving corps were bothered by dropped passes. Smith is expected to get two of his targets back this week from injuries, Thomson Omboga (rib) and Marcus Jones (leg). … Gage has 167 career catches and needs eight to pass the Big 12 record of 174 set by Texas' Kwame Cavil (1997-99).
Nebraska freshman halfback David Horne ran for 88 yards and scored his first collegiate touchdown against Missouri, but he may have done more than that. Horne is making a serious challenge to Dahrran Diedrick's starting I-back job. NU used five I-backs against the Tigers. … NU's offense is getting back on track. The evidence? Tight end Aaron Golliday had what coaches said was his best game with these stats -- one catch, a 1-yard touchdown grab, and 25 knockdown blocks. … Defensive end Chris Kelsay (hamstring) is questionable for the Cornhuskers game at Oklahoma State. … Quarterback Jammal Lord won't be suspended after getting ticketed for disturbing the peace in Lincoln, said quarterback Frank Solich, who did not divulge what punishment, if any, Lord will face. That decision will be made by the team's Unity Council, which is made up of his fellow players.
The Sooners win over Texas paid some quick dividends. One day after the win, OU's third-straight in the series, the Sooners got oral commitments from two consensus top 100 recruits from Lewisville, Tex., defensive back Tony Cade and linebacker Demarrio Pleasant. … Quarterback Nate Hybl was named a team captain last week, joining cornerback Andre Woolfolk, tight end Trent Smith and halfback Quentin Griffin. … Backup quarterback Brent Rawls, who has been sidelined with ligament damage in his thumb and concussion, has been cleared to return to practice and could be ready to play when the Sooners host Colorado on Nov. 2
Oklahoma State had made some solid strides two weeks ago in a 17-15 loss to Texas but now the Cowboys will have to retool their offense. Down 12-0 in the first quarter to Kansas State, the Cowboys lost their starting halfback and fullback. Seymore Shaw will be out three-to-five weeks with a broken fibula in his left leg and fullback Tim Burrough is questionable with an ankle sprain. With backup fullback Mike Denard suspended indefinitely after a drunk-driving incident, freshman Chet Ackerman moves in at fullback if Burrough can't go. Otherwise the Cowboys may need to use more one-back sets, which they haven't done much but could adapt to with their depth at receiver. … Offensive tackle Jason Russell has a sprained shoulder but could be back for Nebraska this week.
Texas wide receiver Roy Williams has been limited with a hamstring pull, one that's robbed him of his explosiveness. "It's a nagging injury that will be there all year," Williams said. "I wish I could redshirt, but I have to play," The junior was injured in the first half of the Horns' third game of the season, which would have met the requirement for a medical redshirt that the injury occurs in the first 20 percent of the regular season. Texas plays a 12-game regular season. Williams' comments also are interesting in light of the fact that before the injury many observers expected him to enter the NFL Draft after his junior year. … Defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs said he "tweaked" his left knee in the third quarter of the Longhorns' loss to Oklahoma. The junior was walking with a limp on Monday but said he expects to play against KSU
With at least six games left Texas A&M's Derek Farmer is on pace to become the first Aggie to run for 1,000 yards since 1998, when Dante Hall ran for 1,024. Farmer has 481 yards. Last year he led the team with 503 yards as the Aggies ran for only 1,254 yards, their lowest team total since 1970. Farmer catches a break this year. If the Aggies reach a bowl game those yards would count toward his season total, a rule change that goes into effect this year.
Texas Tech's much maligned defense can lay claim to holding Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace to his lowest production of the season. Wallace had 185 total yards and his 148 yards passing was his season low by 72 yards. … Inside receiver Mickey Peters missed the ISU game with a concussion but he's expected to be ready against Missouri this week. … X-rays on right guard Rex Richards' right ankle were negative. He's questionable with a sprain. Redshirt freshman E.J. Whitley has become the Raiders' top utility lineman. Against ISU he play both guard spots and right tackle. … Redshirt freshman John Saldi became the third different starter at outside linebacker this season.
Mark Wangrin covers college football for the San Antonio News-Express.