The last six seasons have revealed a pretty unmistakeable trend when it comes to the Heisman Trophy.
Namely, the award is being dominated by what I call the “Super Quarterbacks.” These quarterbacks — all of them operating in some variation of the spread offense — are piling up yards and touchdowns at an unprecedented rate.
As I wrote last December, the last five signal callers to win the Heisman did so by averaging 4,700 yards and 51 touchdowns (including their bowl games). Therefore, it stands to reason that in the current environment, the quarterbacks with the best chance of approaching that standard in a given season are also the quarterbacks with the best chances of winning the Heisman.
Now, to be clear, it’s not just about the numbers. These five quarterbacks — Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel — also played for quality teams or traditional powers and plied their trade on a very bright stage. They set records, beat good teams and elevated their programs to unforeseen heights. So the numbers require context.
But based on Saturday, it looks like Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has the best chance to become the next in this line.
Last night, Boyd was 18 of 30 for 270 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 42 yards and two more scores. Although it’s only one game, accumulating five touchdowns and 312 yards of total offense puts him on that “Super Quarterback” trajectory. That he did so against the No. 5 team in front of a national audience makes it all the more impressive.
If there’s any doubts out there about Boyd’s ability to keep up this pace, keep in mind that as a junior he produced 46 touchdowns and 4,410 yards of total offense, so he’s used to hanging around the outskirts of this ballpark. Thanks to the brilliance of Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris’s scheme, he’s a good bet to surpass those totals as a senior.
Looking ahead, the schedule sets up nicely for Boyd and Clemson. The Tigers should be undefeated when they host Florida State in mid-October. If they get by the Seminoles, they should remain undefeated heading into the season finale against South Carolina. At that point, Boyd could potentially wrap up the Heisman if Clemson gets by the Gamecocks and his numbers are considered worthy of the trophy.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves about Boyd, however, it’s important to note that there are a few other players out there who also have the ability to fit the “Super Quarterback” bill this season. Naturally, they have other attributes (or weaknesses) that, when combined with their numbers, will determine their ultimate Heisman fate. But they stand the best chance to have the kind of production I’m talking about:
Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Brett Hundley, UCLA
David Ash, Texas
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois