After finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting last season, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has a real chance to earn a ticket to New York and win the whole darn thing in 2015. Five reasons why the Frogs' senior superstar can pull it off:
1. Second year, second gear
At this time last year, TCU was still trying to figure out if its Air Raid offense was going to work. The vision of offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie didn't start to click consistently until the Frogs' second fall scrimmage.
And then this offense exploded. Now the Frogs have 12 more months of trial, error, evaluation, innovation and a lot more practice. This machine should run smoother than ever.
“Everyone says it takes another year or two in this offense,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “I'm interested to see what Year 2 looks like.”
Opposing defenses will certainly have more creative solutions for attacking Boykin and his Horned Frogs this time around. So they have to get better.
Boykin says he and his co-OCs have specifically addressed his throws over the middle this offseason. He's a career 58 percent passer over the middle with 11 TDs and 11 INTs, so there's certainly room for growth there. And as we've broken down before, Boykin can do a better job on third downs, too.
If he makes gains in those areas, he'll be a tough dude to slow down.
2. Expect better efficiency
Take the past five Heisman winners -- Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton -- and add up their stats from the year they won the trophy. Here's the average: 3,873 passing yards, 914 rushing yards, 49 total TDs, 10 turnovers.
All of that seems well within range for Boykin based on last year's production (3,901/707/41/11), but he fell well short of the past five Heisman winners when it came to efficiency.
Boykin completed 61.2 percent of his passes and averaged 7.9 yards per passing attempt as a junior. The recent Heisman standard: 68.5 percent and 10 YPA. He can get there with another year of experience in this TCU offense.
3. Big play machine
Last season, Boykin led all Power 5 passers in attempts of 20-plus yards with a whopping 96. So he got to go deep on 20 percent of his throws.
The results: 30 completions for 1,146 yards and 12 TDs. Only one other returning Power 5 passer (Cal's Jared Goff) put up comparable numbers on deep balls. Taking all those shots certainly paid off for the Frogs.
Boykin's gift for extending plays with his feet and buying more time for his wideouts creates a lot more of those big chances. And those big plays certainly help the Heisman reel.
Speaking of Boykin's feet, when you exclude his sacks and negative rushes, he actually ran for 850 yards last season on a healthy 7.5 yards per rush. That included 32 runs of more than 10 yards. His explosive gains -- whether through the air or on the ground -- will make a difference in this Heisman race.
4. Everybody's back
Winning the Heisman requires help from your friends, and nearly every member of TCU's record-setting offense is back for more.
That includes four starting offensive linemen, three of the top four running backs, and eight of the top nine wide receivers from a year ago. In all, TCU's offense will feature nine senior starters. That level of experience and familiarity is insanely valuable.
Having Josh Doctson, Kolby Listenbee and Deante' Gray all back to lead TCU's receiving corps makes Boykin's job much easier. Among the QBs receiving Heisman hype this offseason, only Boykin and Clemson's Deshaun Watson return their top three receivers from 2014.
Another big plus: that quality O-line play. Boykin was touched (sacked, hit or pressured) on only 14.4 percent of his dropbacks last season, which ranked sixth-best among Power 5 passers. This year's line can keep him just as clean.
5. They're going to win
Boykin has stuck to the politically correct answer this summer when asked about his chances of winning the Heisman. He knows exactly what it'll take to go to New York in December.
“We need to win games,” Boykin said in July.
Patterson had a better way of putting it: "He knows if we don't win a lot of ballgames, all the rest of the hype doesn't matter. He could throw for a gazillion yards and not win the Heisman Trophy if you go 6-6. We need to win as a football team."
Remember, TCU rolls into this season riding the momentum of an eight-game win streak. Based on ESPN FPI projections, the odds of that streak reaching 18 games are awfully good. The Horned Frogs' toughest foes, based on FPI, are Oklahoma and Baylor at the end of November.
If Boykin can avoid upsets and lead TCU to a 10-0 start -- which looks eminently possible based on the slate -- there's no doubt he'll be a Heisman front-runner. And there may be no stopping him from there.