Heisman Watch: Week 5
As the college football season nears its halfway mark, many teams begin to get into the thick of
conference play. As the weeks progress, teams will find themselves competing against quality,
and even ranked opposition on a consistent basis. This is where many schools build their playoff
resumes for the College Football Playoff selection committee, while others see their national championship dreams go up in smoke.
Likewise, the true consistent players tend to separate themselves from the outliers, and
the field for the Heisman trophy tends to truly take shape. This is the time in the season where
one lucky athlete will have his “Heisman moment,” on his journey to college football’s most
prestigious individual award.
No matter the season, numerous quarterbacks are almost always heard from in the Heisman
conversation; this season is certainly no exception. A wide variety of QB talent has displayed
dominant performances throughout the season. For some candidates, it is their first full season as
a starter, while others have been a catalyst for their program’s success for quite some time. Either
way, these young men have demonstrated the ability and leadership of a Heisman trophy
candidate, and they are the front runners heading into week six.
1. Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State
A name synonymous with preseason Heisman hype, McSorley hasn’t gotten as much
attention in regards to the award after Penn State’s narrow escape against Appalachian State
on the opening weekend of the season. The senior had struggled to raise his completion
percentage much over the halfway mark and had subdued numbers overall compared to what
was expected of him. However, last week McSorley burst back on to the Heisman scene.
Against Penn State’s toughest opposition to date, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes,
McSorley put together what was easily his most impressive performance of the season.
Number nine threw for 286 passing yards and two touchdowns. In addition, McSorley rushed
for a career-high 175 yards on the ground.
Though in a losing effort, McSorley produced incredibly impressive numbers against one of
the toughest defenses in the nation, with very little help. The rest of the Penn State rushing
attack only contributed 31 yards, not stifling the Buckeyes in the slightest.
McSorley was opposed by fellow Heisman candidate and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne
Haskins. While the stats won’t show the whole story, McSorley looked to outduel his
adversary. Though Haskins only posted 16 less passing yards, most of those came off screen
plays. In fact, Haskins was 11 for 27 on passes which were not screens. He was also almost
nonexistent in the running game compared to McSorley, posting only eight rushing yards.
McSorley came out of the game looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Should he continue to put forward monster numbers against the remainder of Penn State’s
loaded Big Ten schedule, the senior could find himself in New York City as a finalist for the
2. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
In the spirit of the upcoming MLB postseason, let’s give a little love to one of the top picks
from last summer’s draft. It’s no wonder the Oakland Athletics took Kyler Murray ninth
overall, the kid has an absolute cannon of an arm, even when it comes to throwing a football.The junior quarterback posted a career high six touchdown passes last week against Baylor.
Murray has been one of the most efficient players in the entire country. He’s completed 70.6
percent of his passes while already accumulating 17 passing touchdowns on the season.
In addition to his rocket arm, Murray contains the breakaway speed of most team’s wide
receivers. That is why it should be no surprise he averages 57 rushing yards per game on just
9.2 carries and has ran for an additional four scores.
The receiving core at Murray’s disposal might be unrivaled by any team in the country as
well. Sophomore CeeDee Lamb and junior Marquise Brown lead a talented group who thrive
under Murray’s consistent accuracy.
With Oklahoma’s struggling defense, and the high-octane offenses of the Big 12, expect the
Sooners to find themselves in a lot of shootouts in conference play. Their first big test, the
nineteenth-ranked Texas Longhorns, awaits them this Saturday at the Cotton Bowl. Expect
Murray to remain poised on the big stage and continue his excellent start to his Heisman
3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
It’s not often that one of the frontrunners for the Heisman trophy doesn’t have a single
completion in the fourth quarter five games into the season. However, that is the case with
Alabama’s sophomore sensation Tua Tagovailoa.
So far, this season has been so comfortable for the Crimson Tide, that they haven’t even
needed to worry about asking their starting quarterback to step up in crunch time, or even the
majority of the second half for that matter.
Last week was no exception, as Alabama cruised to a 56-14 victory over Louisiana-
Lafayette. Tagovailoa went a perfect 8 for 8 with a pair of touchdown passes – just another
day at the office for number 13.
Don’t let Tagovailoa’s seemingly low stats fool anyone. In about half the playing time of any
other QB in the country, Tagovailoa has the second highest completion percentage of any
quarterback with at least 40 pass attempts at 75 percent, with 14 passing touchdowns. He is
also one of only two FBS quarterbacks to surpass 1,000 passing yards without throwing a
single interception. Add this to a modest rushing threat with a pair of touchdown runs this
season, and Tagovailoa looks to be the complete package.
As Alabama continues with SEC play, there is no doubt Tagovailoa will have chances to
prove himself worthy of the Heisman, with the likes of number five LSU looming on the
Crimson Tide’s schedule.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.