Here’s why Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should win the Heisman.
The Heisman race has been a quarterback-driven one all season long and Tua Tagovailoa has been at the front of it.
All around the country, quarterbacks started off the year with gaudy numbers. As the season progressed, it looked like Tagovailoa was going to run away with the award, after consistent performances week in and week out. Tagovailoa stayed ahead of the pack, despite only playing three quarters for a majority of his games.
However, in the past couple of weeks, the race has picked up steam. Tagovailoa struggled a bit down the stretch, especially in the SEC Championship game where he hurt his ankle and didn’t finish the game.
The other two finalists, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, have both made big statements down the stretch to narrow the gap. Haskins torched Maryland, Michigan and Northwestern in the last three weeks. Murray also put together two excellent games, especially his 364 passing yards, 114 rushing yards and four total scores against West Virginia before a 379-3 performance vs. Texas to win the Big 12.
Despite those excellent performances, Tagovailoa should be viewed as the favorite to win the Heisman on Saturday night.
5. Tagovailoa was the best player on the best team
When it comes to the trophy, most people won’t say this, but your team needs to have had a very good season. In the College Football Playoff era, that usually means a berth in the playoff. If your team doesn’t make the playoff, it is tougher to win, unless you’re Lamar Jackson. The good news for Tagovailoa is that his Alabama team finished the regular season with a perfect 13-0 record.
Alabama often built huge leads and ended up dominating the SEC. Their average margin of victory this season is a hair over 33 points per game. Yes, some teams in the SEC aren’t great and they do play some FCS teams, but big margins of victory over LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn show that this Alabama team was in fact elite with Tagovailoa at the helm.
4. The numbers speak for themselves
Of course, when discussing Heisman winners, the numbers definitely have to be there. Due to the SEC defenses, it’s often difficult for a quarterback to have gaudy numbers to win the Heisman. It’s why it’s only happened four times since 1972.
Tagovailoa has put up some gaudy numbers this season. He threw for over 3,353 yards on the season and threw for 37 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Those 37 passing touchdowns are tied for the fourth most in SEC history at the quarterback position. He also added five more touchdowns on the ground, getting to over 40 touchdowns just like his modern SEC Heisman predecessors, Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Danny Wuerffel. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider Tagovailoa has two pass attempts in the fourth quarter of games this year.
3. Passing Efficiency Comparison
When discussing the candidates, a head-to-head comparison is important. Yes, Murray has the edge as a runner, but let’s take a look at the comparisons with their passing numbers. Both Haskins and Murray have more passing yards than Tagovailoa, but both have played more snaps. They win with volume. Tagovailoa wins with efficiency.
Tagovailoa is right up there in completion percentage (67 percent) and has the least amount of interceptions of the three. The other area Tagovailoa is up to par is in yards per attempt. He has 11.4 yards per attempt, two more than Haskins and just a half a yard per attempt lower than Murray. When looking at adjusted yards per attempt, Tagovailoa ties Murray for with 13.3.
2. Insanely efficient
Tagovailoa only played 588 snaps this season, compared to 807 for Murray and 1,009 for Haskins. That discrepancy in snaps is huge. If Tagovailoa played as many snaps as Murray, he would have finished with 4,862 yards and 57 touchdowns. If you project his pace to Haskins snap count, he finishes with 6,079 yards and 72 total touchdowns. Insane. Those normalized numbers show how crazy efficient he has been this season, and why the Heisman Trophy should be his.
1. He Has The Moment To Remember
The other big key when talking about a candidate is the Heisman moment. A lot of critics of Tagovailoa claim he didn’t have a Heisman moment, which is a testament to how elite he has been. When taking a look at his season, two moments come to mind. One of them was more of a performance, but his six touchdowns against Auburn was a performance that will live in Iron Bowl history as a legendary performance.
He dominated the Tigers, especially in the second half after a tight first half. The other came against LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tide were leading by only two possessions in the third quarter. On a third and eight, Tagovailoa scanned the field but had nowhere to go. He got out of the pocket and scampered 44 yards for a score, ankle brace and all. That touchdown put the game out of reach and gave him a Heisman moment.