A lot of this year’s major awards will be handed out tonight at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, with the Heisman Trophy set for Saturday evening in New York. A lot of Alabama fans are suddenly nervous and concerned about Tua Tagovailoa’s chances after the SEC Championship Game.
It’s just the seventh time in the 84-year history of the trophy that all three finalists are quarterbacks, and there’s a lot of speculation that Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray is going to score a narrow win, with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins also getting a lot of strong consideration. On Thursday, Murray was named the Associated Press’ player of the year.
Here are five things to keep in mind when the trophies start being distributed, and the voters should have been thinking about when casting their ballots.
1] Tagovailoa’s ankle surgery was on the one he injured at the beginning of the SEC Championship Game, not the one he suffered when he was pulled. It’s an important distinction because he played nearly that entire game with a significant physical setback that definitely affected his performance.
Not only did take some zip off his passes, but it made it tough for the quarterback to run, turning him more into a one-dimensional passer.
2] Even with the injury Tagovaila still led three touchdown drives against the Bulldogs. Plus he also played a good part of the season with a sprained knee.
3] Like always, the numbers only tell part of the story. Granted, all three Heisman candidates have had had terrific seasons. When it comes to passer rating, which the NCAA uses to determine its annual passing champion, Murray heads into the playoff with a slight edge, 205.7 to 202.3.
But when counting snaps that each quarterback was directly involved in, Tagovailoa participated in only 74.9 percent of Alabama’s offensive plays. Murray was in for 94.3 percent for Oklahoma, while Haskins was at 91.7 percent for Ohio State.
Catetory Tagovailoa, Murray, Haskins
Completions 199 241 348
Attempts 294 340 496
Passing yards 3353 4053 4580
Completion percentage 67.7 71.00 70.2
Yards per attempt 11.41 11.92 9.23
Passing touchdowns 37 40 47
Interceptions 4 7 8
TD/INT rate 9.25 5.71 5.88
Rating 202.3 205.7 175.8
Rushes 48 123 73
Rushing yards 190 892 122
Yards per rush 4 7.3 1.7
Rushing TDs 5 11 4
Total yards 3543 4945 4702
Total touchdown 42 51 51
Tagovailoa barely played in a fourth quarter this season. If Alabama had used him in a similar way his statistics would be significantly better.
Even so, Alabama averaged .8 points per snap when Tagovailoa was on the field this season.
- The competition was nowhere near equal.
Alabama played a tougher schedule against tougher defenses, and the comparison wasn’t close. Just a quick glance at where the opposition is ranked in the statistical category of total defense makes that clear:
Iowa State 34
Texas (twice) 68
Kansas State 73
West Virginia 74
Florida Atlantic 90
Oklahoma State 99
Texas Tech 111
Statistically, Murray’s worst game was against Kansas.
Tagovailoa’s worst game was against Georgia, when he was hurt.
Here are the defenses he faced:
Mississippi State 3
Texas A&M 36
Arkansas State 49
Ole Miss 121
5] It’s supposed to be a season award, not a championship game award.
You’ve always heard about different standards that various voters have used when voting, like the best player player on the best team, who had the Heisman moment, and so forth. All of those things might go out the window this year.
One thing is certain, though. If Tagovailoa doesn’t win expect the chip on Alabama’s shoulders to be a lot bigger than then 25-pound trophy.