John Keen, Staff Writer
In Louisville’s 63-20 dominating win over second ranked Florida State last Saturday, quarterback Lamar Jackson, amassing over 350 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns, cemented himself as the Heisman frontrunner.
Through Louisville’s first three games, Jackson has compiled quite the impressive statistical resume.
Jackson has completed 50 of 82 pass attempts for 913 yards, while tossing eight touchdowns to just two interceptions. Jackson’s rushing attack has also proven deadly, running for 464 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Outside of Jackson’s impressive stats, the Louisville signal caller’s position and team put Jackson in good position to bring home college football’s most prestigious award.
Every Heisman winner since 1997, when Michigan’s defensive back Charles Woodson brought the trophy home, has either been a quarterback or running back from a Power Five conference school.
With nationally televised games left against Clemson and Houston, each team sporting their own Heisman contenders in Deshaun Watson and Greg Ward Jr respectively, Jackson will have more opportunities of proving Heisman worthiness.
Furthermore, not many other individual players are having outstanding seasons.
Watson, Stanford’s triple-threat playmaker Christian McCaffrey and LSU running back Leonard Fournette have all under-performed to their preseason expectations.
While Watson has been far from bad, his numbers are pedestrian at best, especially for a Heisman contending quarterback on a National Championship caliber team. Through Clemson’s first three games, Watson has thrown 58 completions on 102 attempts for 692 yards, compiling seven touchdowns to three interceptions.
McCaffrey, Stanford’s punt and kick returner, running back and slot receiving Swiss army knife, has gained 470 all-purpose yards through two games this season. In fairness to McCaffrey, 470 is more all-purpose yards (337) than he had through two games last season, when he broke Barry Sanders’s single-season all-purpose yardage record.
Fournette, not lacking for physical ability, has struggled this year due to porous quarterback play and injury causing him to miss LSU’s Week 2 game against Jacksonville State.
Despite missing one game, Fournette still ranks 26 nationally with 285 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Numbers, albeit solid, not Heisman worthy.
Ward Jr, factoring in Houston’s ranking, being able to face Louisville and his individual statistics (647 passing yards at 61.8%), looks to be in the best shape to supersede Jackson as the Heisman favorite.
Houston not being a Power Five conference school would normally be enough to limit Ward Jr’s chances, given that a non-Power Five players has not won the Heisman since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990.
However, Ward Jr has a few factors working in his favor: Houston is a top 10 team, Ward Jr is an electric player to watch producing many “Heisman moments” and the precedent has been set by
Andre Ware, former Houston Cougar and 1989 Heisman winner.
Not everything is working in Ward Jr’s favor, however as he, like Fournette, missed Houston’s second game against Lamar due to injury. This could have been a game where Ward Jr could have padded his stat sheet.
While college football’s regular season is far from over, if Lamar Jackson continues his torrid pace with other top contenders producing lackluster statistics or continued injuries, the Heisman race could be well decided before then.