How does Geno Smith’s September stack up against recent Heisman winners?

Geno Smith enters October leading the Heisman race thanks, in large part, to his incredible stat line through four games: 141 of 169 (83.4 percent) for 1,728 yards, 20 TDs, 0 interceptions, 208.37 rating.

I decided to go back to check how his numbers compare to recent Heisman winners heading into October. For brevity’s sake, I list the last 10 winners below.

At first check, one thing becomes clear: Smith has arguably the best passing stats of all time entering October. The list also shows us how quarterbacks have become much more productive in the spread era.

The last four Heisman-winning quarterbacks averaged 12 touchdown passes before October. They completed 73 percent of their passes and had a combined 49-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Their average passer efficiency rating was an astronomical 203.71.

The four Heisman-winning quarterbacks immediately preceeding 2007 (who came of age before the full blossoming of the spread) averaged nine touchdown passes before October, completed 64 percent of their passes, had a combined 36-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an average passer rating of 148.7.

The lesson here is that this era of wide open offense has raised the bar for this generation of Heisman-contending quarterbacks. The voters expect to see crazy numbers now. Little thought is given to how the wide variety of systems and schemes in college football are a prime determiner of production (as opposed to pure talent).

Whatever the case, it’s possible that Smith may be on his way to raising that bar even higher.

Heisman winners from 2002-2011: Stats entering October

Robert Griffin III, 2011 – 69 of 81 (85.2%) for 962 yards, 13 TDs, 0 interceptions, 237.92 rating, 161 rushing yards, 1 TD.

Cameron Newton, 2010 – 43 of 68 (63.2%) for 683 yards, 9 TDs, 3 interceptions, 182.47 rating, 484 rushing yards, 5 TDs.

Mark Ingram, 2009 – 61 carries for 347 yards (5.69 ypc), 4 TDs, 13 catches, 141 yards, 3 TDs.

Sam Bradford, 2008 – 83 of 115 (72.2%) for 1,293 yards, 16 TDs, 2 interceptions, 209.04 rating.

Tim Tebow, 2007 – 85 of 122 (69.7%) for 1,2971 yards, 11 TDs, 2 interceptions, 185.44 rating, 433 rushing yards, 8 TDs.

Troy Smith, 2006 – 84 of 128 (65.6%) for 1,070 yards, 12 TDs, 2 interceptions, 163.66 rating.

Reggie Bush, 2005 – 40 carries for 333 yards (8.32 ypc), 4 TDs, 10 catches, 171 yards, 2 TDs.

Matt Leinart, 2004 – 84 of 124 (67.7%) for 1,023 yards, 8 TDs, 2 interceptions, 155.11 rating.

Jason White, 2003 – 86 of 132 (65.1%) for 1,088 yards, 11 TDs, 3 interceptions, 157.34 rating.

Carson Palmer, 2002 – 86 of 149 (57.7%) for 963 yards, 5 TDs, 3 interceptions, 119.06 rating.

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.
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