Sophomore Bryce Young continues to put space between him and the rest of the Heisman Trophy candidates as we reach the second week of October, when conference play kicks into high gear.
Young was not statistically overwhelming in Alabama’s dominating victory over Ole Miss and top contender Matt Corral last week, but strong and steady was plenty enough to create a clear delineation between him and Corral.
Pro Football Focus weighed in with an interesting peripheral number on Young this week. Young, who is 6-foot and 194 pounds, has had none of his 150 passing attempts batted down at the line of scrimmage. None. Predecessor Mac Jones had three in his first five starts in 2020.
Bryce Young was 21 of 27 passing for 241 yards and two TDs in Alabama’s 42-21 win over Mississippi. Matt Corral was 21 of 29 for 213 yards, 1 TD.
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) October 3, 2021
“It’s probably something that people aren’t going to completely grasp unless they play the position,” Young said on his weekly podcast. “But a lot of times you have to see through lanes and see certain kinds of flashing images and make decisions based off those.
“A lot of that comes from pre- and post-snap knowledge of what’s going on defensively. I’m big on trying to understand as much as I can about a defense and the defenses that we’re expected to get because you don’t really get to see the whole picture like you may be able to on TV. You can only see certain select things and in certain select windows.”
So Young has that going for him, too.
Onto my list. Odds courtesy of DraftKings on Oct. 6.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Season stats: 109-149, 73.2 percent, 1,365 yards; 17 TD, 2 INT
Last time out: 21-27, 241 yards; 2 TD, 1 INT in a 42-21 victory over No. 12 Ole Miss
This week: No. 1 Alabama (5-0) plays at Texas A&M (3-2)
Line: Alabama -17.5
Update: Young delegated a lot of the authority in the decisive victory over Ole Miss to running back Brian Robinson Jr., who rushed for a career-high 171 yards and four touchdowns. Young complemented with two more scoring passes and for the most part was his usual accurate self, although he saw as much pressure as he has seen this season and forced one pass into coverage while scrambling, resulting in his second interception of the season.
Status: As he has been since his first two starts, Young is unquestionably the leader in the clubhouse. His numbers, his accuracy and his leadership of a dominant ‘Bama offense — the Tide scored the first 35 points against Ole Miss and led 42-7 — are his selling points. Young leads the SEC with an 185.75 quarterback rating and is fourth in the FBS in both completion percentage and touchdown passes.
2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Season stats: 122-160, 76.3 percent, 1,260 yards; 10 TD, 4 INT
Last time out: 22-25, 243 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT in a 37-31 victory over Kansas State
This week: No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0) plays No. 21 Texas (4-1) in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Line: Oklahoma -3.5
Updated Heisman betting at @BetMGM
Bryce Young +1000 to +120 (betting favorite)
Matt Corral +2500 to +210
Spencer Rattler 15%
— John Ewing 🦁 (@johnewing) October 4, 2021
Update: Rattler survived the hostile noise that the SEC-bound Sooners will find on every Big 12 road trip this season — except Saturday against fellow deserter Texas — by leading Oklahoma on 75-, 75- and 90-yard touchdown drives for a 27-10 point lead at Kansas State last week. Rattler misfired only three times, with two incomplete passes and an interception, and is second in the FBS in completion percentage behind Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall.
Status: Rattler has thrown a touchdown pass in each game, but except for his five-score explosion against FCS Western Carolina, has not had the big numbers you might expect to see. He has thrown for more than 260 yards only once.
3. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Season stats: 80-124, 64.5 percent, 1,293 yards; 13 TD, 3 INT
Last time out: 17-23, 330 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT in a 52-13 victory over Rutgers
This week: No. 7 Ohio State (4-1) plays host to Maryland (4-1)
Line: Ohio State -21
Update: Stroud returned to the field after missing a week with a shoulder injury and the time off served him well. Stroud had his best game of the season against Rutgers statistically, with his first career five-touchdown performance. He did not throw an interception for the first time in four games, and his completion percentage, which suffered in early-season games against Minnesota and Oregon, also was a season-best 73.9. “This is what he’s capable of,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “And now he’s got to bring it through and be consistent.”
Status: Stroud still has work to do, but conquering a Big Ten schedule that includes Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan among the final five games will give him a lot of credibility.
4. Will Rogers, QB, Mississippi State
Season stats: 215-284, 75.7 percent, 1,862 yards; 14 TD, 1 INT
Last time out: 46-59, 408 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT in a 26-22 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M
This week: Mississippi State (3-2) has the week off before facing No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 16.
Update: Sophomore Rogers jumped into the Heisman race with some gaudy numbers in what was called an upset over Texas A&M, although some may disagree. His 408 yards at Kyle Field was not even his best game of the year — he threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns in a loss at Memphis. Rogers is the only player in the SEC with a 400-yard, three-score game, and he has two of them. No question Rogers benefits from playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, which floods the field with four wide receivers and is based primarily on quick reads and short throws. Rogers has stepped up in his first full season as a starter after sharing the job with Stanford transfer K.J. Costello before taking over in the final weeks of 2020. He has six 300-yard passing games, second in school history to Dak Prescott (nine.)
Will Rogers: 89.1 PFF Grade this season
1st among SEC QBs🥇 pic.twitter.com/6nJd2r8dSL
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 6, 2021
Status: Rogers has one thing going for him and another against. Because he plays in the SEC, he is on the national stage in the best conference in the FBS, and voters get to see him more often. The fact that voters are not big on gimmick offenses, regardless of the quality of the player, plays in the other direction.
5. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Season stats: 87-125, 1,210 yards, 69.6 percent; 10 TD, 0 INT
Last time out: 21-29, 213 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 10 carries, 3 yards, 1 TD
This week: No. 17 Ole Miss (3-1) plays host to No. 13 Arkansas (4-1)
Line: Ole Miss -5
Update: Corral extended his streak of games with a touchdown pass to 16, but that was about the extent of his work in the matchup of top Heisman contenders at Alabama, which atoned from its porous showing in the 2020 meeting by throttling Corral in his first real test of the season. Corral passed for one score and rushed for another, but he also lost a fumble. He was forced into a bad game script because coach Lane Kiffin put the offense in a hole with three failed fourth-down conversion attempts in the first half.
Status: Corral was decidedly just OK against the No. 1 team in the nation, and it may not get much easier this week. Not only has Arkansas given up as many as 227 yards passing only once this season, the Razorbacks intercepted Corral six times in their 33-21 victory last season. It also does not help that Ole Miss No. 2 wide receiver Jonathan Mingo is expected to miss a good chunk of the rest of the season because of a foot injury.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
Season stats: 121-168, 72.0 percent 1,731 yards; 19 TD, 1 INT
Last time out: 23-36, 389, 4 TD, 0 INT in a 52-21 victory over Georgia Tech
This week: Pitt (4-1) has the week off
Update: Fifth-year senior Pickett has stepped up in his final year against what to this point has been a suspect schedule. The last three weeks he has thrown for 382 yards in a loss to Western Michigan, 403 yards against FCS New Hampshire and then last week. Virginia Text and Clemson are first up after the break.
Status: “He’s made a lot of money for himself coming back, I can tell you that,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “He’s so smooth, so calm.”
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Season stats: 105 carries, 652 yards, 7 TD
Last time out: 35 carries, 216 yards, 2 TD in a 32-27 victory over TCU
This week: No. 21 Texas (4-1) plays No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0) at the Cotton Bowl
Line: Oklahoma -3.5
Bijan Robinson = Heisman 👀@RJ_Young says it's time to start talking about the Longhorn running back and the Heisman house:
— The No. 1 Ranked Show (@numberoneshow) October 6, 2021
Update: Robinson blew up in the final two games of the 2020 regular season — 355 yards rushing, 88 yards receiving, seven touchdowns — leading some to expect a breakout season. After a slowish start, Robinson is slowly picking up steam. He had a career-high 216 yards rushing last week. building on games of 127 against Rice and 137 yards against Texas Tech.
Status: A strong showing at the Texas state fairgrounds this week would keep the train rolling especially inasmuch as Spencer Rattler will be on the other side.
Jake Heaner, QB, Fresno State
Season stats: 164-236, 69.5 percent, 2,230 yards; 18 TD, 6 INT
Last time out: 28-50, 388 yards, 3 TD, 4 INT in a 27-24 loss to Hawaii
This week: Fresno State (4-2) has the week off
Update: After leading a big fourth quarter in a win over UCLA two weeks ago, Haener had a clunker in Honolulu. Three of his four interceptions came inside the Rainbow Warriors’ 10-yard-line, including one at the 2-yard line with nine seconds remaining. Haener has a big-time arm and he has passed for at least 331 yards in five of his six games this season.
Status: A four-pick game never helps anyone, especially someone who is seldom seen on national TV.
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Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina
Season stats: 69-86, 1,113 yards, 80.2 percent; 10 TD, 1 INT
This week: No. 15 Coastal Carolina (5-0) visits Arkansas State (1-4) on Thursday as the Sun Belt chases exposure
Line: Coastal Carolina -19
Update: McCall runs an option offense that does not require him to pass often, but when he does, no one in the FBS has been as accurate. McCall leads the FBS in completion percentage at 80.2, and his Chanticleers have run through their first five opponents
Status: McCall has done this before. According to Pro Football Focus, McCall had the seventh-best “big-time throw rate” and the fifth-lowest “uncatchable pass rate” in 2020. His passing grade was second only to BYU’s Zach Wilson, who was taken by the New York Jets with the second pick of the 2021 NFL draft. His chances are very slim; he just wins games with remarkable efficiency.