Hertzel’s Heisman Watch: Playing ‘Bama Not Ideal
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Let us understand one thing, if you want to have a Heisman Trophy candidate, the best thing you can do for him is not schedule Alabama.
WVU’s Will Grier, perhaps the leading candidate for the Heisman this year, can be thankful the Crimson Tide cannot show up on the Mountaineer schedule other than in the College Football Playoffs.
Don’t believe it? Ask the Ole Miss passing combination of quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and wide receiver A.J. Brown, which tasted the Bama buzzsaw defense in a decisive 62-7 loss to the nation’s No. 1 team.
In his first two game Ta’amu had completed 45 of 65 passes for 784 yards but when he came across Alabama’s defense, he completed only 7-of-22 for 133 yards, 75 of those yards on a touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive.
And Brown? He managed to catch four of those seven completions for just 34 of the yards, leaving both of them in the Heisman dust.
So let’s quickly scratch those two from our list and, in truth, it’s probably time just three weeks into the season to scratch a few others.
Let’s look at the contenders first:
- Will Grier, WVU QB. He had the week off as the North Carolina State game was cancelled due to a hurricane named Florence, which in the end of the year will cost him some statistics, but if WVU keeps winning and he keeps performing as he has through two games, he should be in the battle until Heisman night.
Grier’s stats stand at 46 completions in 60 tries, a gaudy 76.7 percent, for 761 yards and nine TDs and one interception. His QB rating is at 229.4.
He has contenders at the QB position.
- Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB. He faces the Alabama defense on a daily basis, so it should come as no surprise that he can handle the likes of Ole Miss. In that 62-7 mismatch, he went 11-of-15 passing for 191 yards and a couple of TDs and now this year has completed 36 of 50 for 72 percent, gaining 676 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tagovailoa’s QB rating is at 233.3 for the year, second in the nation, just ahead of Grier’s 229.4 for third.
Tagovailoa is also a rushing threat, having gained 93 yards on 14 carries this year.
- Kyler Murray, Oklahoma QB. You might as well get ready now for that Big 12 finale, maybe followed by a rematch between WVU and the Sooners in the Big 12 championship game, for it may decide the Heisman and Murray is definitely for real.
Against Iowa State in the conference opener, he completed 21 of 29 for 348 yards and 3 TDs and ran 15 times for 77 more yards. For the season he is 49-73 for 863 yards, eight TDs and one interception and a QB rating of 199.9.
- Jake Fromm, Georgia QB. Don’t be scared off his chances just because Georgia doesn’t throw a lot. UGA is a contender for the national championship and if Fromm were to lead the team there, it would go a long way to his Heisman candidacy.
This week, in a laugher with Middle Tennessee, he completed 10-of-12 passes for 128 yards and 3 TD and for the year he has a ridiculous 80.4 completion percentage while passing for 479 yards with six TDs and an interception, giving him a 206.6 QB rating.
- Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB. For the first time in a decade, the Buckeyes have a top-line passer at quarterback and he showed his stuff again against TCU’s tough defense as he completed 24-of-38 for 344 yards and two TDs. For the year he has hit on 66-of-91 passes for 890 yards, recording 11 TDs against just one interception.
- Drew Lock, Missouri QB. Mizzou pulled out a dramatic 40-37 victory over Purdue on a field goal with no time left and Lock led the way by completing 26 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, Lock’s number make him a contender hitting 78-of-113 passes for 69 percent to go with 11 TDs and an interception for a 178.3 QB rating.
- D’Eriq King, Houston QB. King continued to put up big numbers as he completed 30-of-51 passes or 431 yards with five TDs and zero interceptions, but that carries the asterisk that comes with it being against Texas Tech’s porous pass defense. For the year, he is just three yards shy of 1,000 passing with 12 TDs and no interceptions while also running 23 times for 111 yards and four TDs.
Dropping out among the QBs is Penn State’s Trace McSorley, who completed just 11-of-22 in this week’s romp for 229 yards and two TDs. For the year, he has completed only 51.7 percent of his passes and his QB rating stands at 126.6, down from 165 last year.
Oregon’s Justin Herbert is going to have to do better than the 16 of 34 he completed against San Jose State this week for 309 yards and three TDs but two interceptions. For the year he is under 60 percent completions.
And Boise State’s Brett Rypien can’t be considered a real candidate until the Broncos figure out how to protect him, as he was sacked seven times by Oklahoma State. He is having a big year with 80-of-112 passes for 71.4 complete with 10 scores and no interceptions.
So, how about the running backs?
Not a good week, really.
Stanford’s Bryce Love, who well may be the best of the lot, was out with injury and did not play
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB. He had another 100-yard day with 117 yards on 26 carries but he didn’t score and Wisconsin didn’t score enough, as it lost to BYU. For the season, the workmanlike Taylor has 77 carries for 515 rushing yards, which is second in the nation, averaging 6.7 yards a carry with TD.
And here’s one just to keep an eye on. Memphis’ Darrell Henderson, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound running back who reportedly rab a 4.3 40 coming out of high school, has strung together consecutive games of 200-plus yards against Navy and Georgia State and currently averages 14.5 yards per carry this year. Last year, with 130 carries, he averaged 8.9 yards a try with 9 TDs with a long of 82.
Now for the wide receivers, which begins with WVU’s Gary Jennings and David Sills, who enjoyed the off week with Grier.
Oklahoma’s Marquis Brown moved into contention big-time with nine receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State. He now has 19 catches for 412 yards, averaging 21.7 yards a catch, with three TDs.