Keith Price: Not A Heisman Candidate … Yet

The fact that I’m even thinking about this, let alone writing about it in this forum, immediately fills me with regret.  Especially after last season’s Heisman Watch fiasco with Jake Locker that couldn’t make it out of Week 3 – and that was a guy with a HUGE amount of buzz going into last season.

Well, Keith Price had no buzz.  He had anti-buzz!  The buzz around Price was:  “Well, we’ve got this guy who has only started one game in his college career, what’s the best we can hope for outta this guy?”  As it turns out, quite a lot:

  • Game 1 vs. Eastern – 17 for 25, 102 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
  • Game 2 vs. Hawaii – 18 for 25, 315 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
  • Game 3 @ Nebraska – 21 for 37, 274 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
  • Game 4 vs. California – 19 for 25, 292 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
  • Game 5 @ Utah – 22 for 30, 226 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • Game 6 vs. Colorado – 21 for 28, 257 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs

Add it all up and you’ve got:  118 for 170 (69.4 completion percentage), 1,466 yards (244.33 yards per game), 21 TDs, 4 INTs.

The most glaring reason why Price WOULDN’T be a Heisman candidate is his yards thrown.  He currently ranks 44th in all of D-I.  So, that puts him behind the 8-ball a little bit.  He’s much better with completion percentage at 11th (among qualified QBs).  Of course, with TDs he’s tied for 2nd (his main and most major strength in this whole argument), and in QB Rating (which … don’t ask me how it’s calculated) Price is 5th overall.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot until you compare Price to the other full-fledged Heisman contenders.  That’s where ESPN comes in with their Heisman Watch.  This thing is going to come in handy for me here, since it appears to have been updated yesterday.

The quarterbacks listed (Price is not among them) are:

  1. Andrew Luck (Stanford)
  2. Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)
  3. Kellen Moore (Boise State)
  4. Robert Griffin III (Baylor)
  5. Landry Jones (Oklahoma)

I’m not going to include the other position players in my argument because, ostensibly, if Price isn’t good enough to contend with the other QBs, then what chance would he have among the running backs, receivers, and corners?

First off, let’s start with Landry Jones.  171 for 253 (67.6%), 2,177 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs.  Right off the bat you’re talking about a guy who’s on a better football team (3rd in the nation), so that’s kind of a big deal.  You’re looking at an offense that has the same number of rushing yards, with a quarterback who has thrown for 700 more yards (so, we can’t really blame the Huskies for being a running offense).  Price has a narrow edge in completion percentage (Jones ranks 19th), and for a guy who has thrown nearly 100 fewer passes, Price actually has 5 more TDs.  Still, the yardage and the overall team success puts Price at a disadvantage.

Next we have Robert Griffin from Baylor.  This is the guy EVERYONE has been abuzz about.  He’s the guy who had more touchdowns than incomplete passes for a while in the early going.  He’s leading college football in TDs (1 more than Price), he only has 2 INTs, his completion percentage is also tops (78% on 142 for 182 passing), and he’s 9th in total yardage with 1,950.  Well, right off the bat you can say he plays for Baylor, so that’s a negative.  Other than that, you can’t really argue with the numbers as they stand right now.  If Price can somewhat keep pace, and keep UW’s record a quality one in the Pac-12, then I think this might be a wash.

Up next is Kellen Moore.  He’s 2nd in percentage (75.9% on 151 for 199 passing), tied with Price for 2nd in TDs (tied with Price at 4 INTs as well), he’s 19th in yards with 1729, and he plays for the #5 team in the nation.  On the flipside, Moore plays in the Mountain West (which is just a tiny step up from the WAC), so they’ve had plenty of opportunity to run up their scores (and his stats) against inferior opponents.  Winning out might get Boise State a BCS bowl berth, but I still don’t think it would be enough to get Moore a Heisman.  That having been said, until they lose a game and fall out of the Top 10, I see that ranking hurting Price an awful lot more than it helps Moore.

Moving on, we’ve got Russell Wilson.  He’s 5th in percentage (74.2% on 95 for 128 passing), he’s got 14 TDs vs. 1 INT, he’s 35th in passing with 1,557 yards, and he’s got an additional 182 yards rushing with a touchdown on 24 carries (7.6 average per carry).  The percentage is good, the fact that he’s thrown fewer passes yet has more yards tips the scales in his favor.  Of course, he’s on a rushing team, so that would explain things an awful lot.  However, he himself has an ability to tuck the ball and run.  Price only has 15 yards rushing and 0 TDs on the ground.  Not looking good there.  Tack on Wisconsin’s Top 10 status and I’m smelling a trend.

Finally, we’ve got the uber, the almighty, the chosen one.  Andrew Luck.  Real quick:  9th in percentage (71.3% on 129 for 181 passing), 20th in yards with 1,719; he has 18 TDs and only 3 INTs.  Oh, and he plays on a Top 10 football team as well.

Overall, if we were just basing his candidacy on the numbers, Price is up there (though I’d like to see about 400 more yards and another few percentage points in the completion percentage race), but I don’t think he has it quite yet.

Since we can’t base this solely on numbers, then the fact that he’s only on a Top 25 team (while most of these other guys are on Top 10 teams) really sinks his battleship.

If Price were to seriously contend for this award, he’s going to have to do one thing right off the bat:  beat Stanford this weekend.  He will HAVE to knock off one of his primary rivals on the football field, otherwise he has no prayer (short of Luck getting significantly injured).  A win in Stanford would put the Huskies in the teens in the Top 25.

From there, we’re DEFINITELY going to have to win either vs. Oregon or @ USC (preferably Oregon, but PREFERABLY both).  If we have to lose one of those games, Price is going to have to be sparkling in that game (i.e. it’ll have to be the defense blowing it, with our offense keeping pace thanks to the arm of Price); but really that’s redundant because Price is going to have to continue to be sparkling in EVERY game.  In the Heisman Race, there are no Saturdays off.

In essence, the Huskies will have to be – at worst – 10-2.  Ideally, we’d be 11-1, but that’s  neither here nor there.  Oh, and also, it would help if Price threw at least ONE 300-yard game for Christ’s sake.

I’m hoping like crazy that Price makes a run at this thing (mostly because that means the Huskies will be really good this season), but I dunno.  He’s got a lot of ground to make up, both for his own numbers and for this team’s lack of respect by pollsters coming into this season.

And, really, a lack of respect for Keith Price.  That guy went from being a Nobody to being talked about among the giants in the game of College Football … and this is his FIRST season!  Just imagine where he’ll be two years from now!

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