2018 Heisman Trophy Recap

Story posted December 9, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Dolby

The Heisman trophy race finally came to a somewhat surprising conclusion two weeks ago when the 929 official Heisman voters chose an Oklahoma quarterback for the second straight year. This year featured three quarterbacks that all played in top ten offenses, and the decision really came down to which quarterback could run their system the best.

Out of the past 12 Heisman trophy winners, only two have not been quarterbacks. Ironically enough Alabama has produced the two other gentlemen that have taken home the trophy for the most outstanding player, with running backs Mark Ingram Jr. and Derrick Henry.

The competition this year for the Heisman was the highest there has been in a few years. It actually felt like the trophy was not completely in the bag by early November, like it was in 2016 when Lamar Jackson literally ran away with the trophy by mid-season.

Heisman winner Kyler Murray was joined by stiff competitors in Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State’s signal-caller. West Virginia quarterback Will Grier also got a few Heisman nods as well as Wisconsin’s running back Jonathan Taylor, Clemson’s bell cow Travis Etienne, and a few others.

For the final time this season let's review the top Heisman candidates.

Heisman Trophy Winner: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

I truly do believe that the voters picked this one right in their selection of Murray. The race was extremely tight going down the stretch, but championship weekend decided who would take home the hardware.

With his Big 12 championship win against Texas Murray won himself the most prestigious trophy in college football, he redeemed Oklahoma’s only loss on the season to their Red River rivals and basically guaranteed Oklahoma’s spot in this year’s college football playoff.

In the championship game, the 5-foot-10 quarterback threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns and completely out-dueled Sam Ehlinger, the signal caller for Texas. As always, Murray was a major part of the Oklahoma offensive attack in the game.

On the season, Murray has accumulated 4945 total yards and 51 total touchdowns. Most of his work came through the air, where he completed 70.9% of his passes for 4053 yards, 40 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. His regular season ended with an extremely high quarterback rating of almost 206.

Murray single-handedly won Oklahoma a few games this season. His week four overtime win against Army stands out. The Sooners only had the ball for a little over 15 minutes, and Kyler Murray still found a way to outscore Army all by himself. He recorded every Oklahoma touchdown for the game and the way that he overcame adversity shows that he can put a team on his shoulders and carry them to victory.

The small, lightning-quick quarterback was able to last through the entire season by playing extremely smart football. To go along with his tremendous ability to throw a football, Murray displayed a knack for making good decisions with the football and getting the ball out of his hands quickly.

He will face his toughest opponent yet in the daunting Alabama Crimson Tide defense and an offense that is captained by the runner-up for the Heisman this year.

Runner-Up: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tagovailoa had a great season under Nick Saban and fell just 296 points short of Murray in the final Heisman voting. In the end, it had to be Tua’s poor performance in the SEC championship game against Georgia that cost him the Heisman. For most of the year, Tagovailoa was seen as the favorite to win the trophy.

His final stat line against Georgia was his worst of the season, and all when the game mattered the most. He ended the day with 164 passing yards one touchdown, and two interceptions. His interceptions during the game accounted for half of his total picks throughout the year. Tua was replaced by Jalen Hurts, who would lead Alabama to a victory in a similar fashion to how Tagovailoa replaced Hurts in last year’s national championship game.

The lefty quarterback’s stat line was staggering for the year. He completed over two thirds of his passes this season and racked up 3,353 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, and only threw four interceptions all year. His numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he was typically on the bench by the fourth quarter since Alabama typically help such a commanding lead.

The completely dominant Alabama defense, which helped Tagovailoa achieve success on the field, actually ended up hurting him off the field. Tagovailoa was never really put in a position to fail this whole season, so he never got that one “signature win” that stands out above the competition.

Tua managed to not blow a lead or a game for the Crimson Tide all year, but he never had to go out and win a game himself. By all means, the Hawaiian quarterback had an excellent year, but he just was not quite flashy enough or put in the best position in a weak defensive conference to win the Heisman.

Second Runner Up: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Haskins actually had the best year out of these three strictly speaking about passing numbers. He completed the year with 4,580 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns and a completion percentage of 70.2 percent on 496 passes thrown.

He is most certainly the best NFL prospect out of the three Heisman finalists. Now everyone will have to wait and see if he declares for the upcoming draft in April.

Haskins can definitely whip the ball around, and he is able to make every throw, be it down the field or a touch pass over the top of defensive back. Number Seven produced at a high level for his first full season starting for the Buckeyes, and led Ohio State to a Big Ten title over Northwestern.

At times Urban Meyer relied too heavily on his redshirt Sophomore quarterback. Haskins’ Heisman dreams seemed to end on the night that he attempted his most passes for the season. When the Buckeyes travelled to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers Haskins threw the ball 73 times for 470 yards, two touchdowns and a crucial pick-six that sealed the game for Purdue. The Boilermakers would end up routing the Buckeyes in a 49-20 victory, a stain that would tarnish Ohio State’s record enough to cost them a spot in the college football playoff.

That pick-six to Markus Bailey meant that Haskins needed Tagovailoa and Murray to mess up pretty bad at some point during the season, which they did not. Haskins had a terrific overall season though, and he demanded first place Heisman voting attention, all while potentially earning himself a big pay day playing on Sundays.

 

 

 

Logan Dolby is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email ldd5135@psu.edu.