Comparing Alabama's Mac Jones to Kyle Trask, Trevor Lawrence and other Heisman Trophy hopeful QBs
When the season started, Mac Jones and Kyle Trask were on the Heisman Trophy odds list mostly for the sports books to attract what was seen as easy money. Both were below Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, yet to start a game, and comparable with many running backs, despite only one running back winning the trophy in the last 10 years and two in the last 19.
Now, the Alabama and Florida quarterbacks are the two most-debated signal-callers in the race.
Both have respectable claims to the trophy given to the nation’s most outstanding college football player: Trask is the national leader in touchdown passes by no small margin, but Jones leads the nation in yards per attempt and quarterback rating among those with more than five games played.
Heisman Watch:DeVonta Smith's rise puts two Alabama players in mix
Comparing numbers between the two shows how close they are and the varying degrees of separation they have from the other quarterbacks in the running: BYU’s Zach Wilson, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
Trask’s 38 touchdowns (no other quarterback has more than 30) remain above the crowd even on a per-possession basis. He throws a touchdown on 40.4% of the possessions he plays, while Jones is second among the five at 30%. Wilson is close at 29.3%, but there’s a gap from Wilson to Fields (24.5%) and Lawrence (22.4%).
Trask’s elevated touchdown numbers could be out of necessity more than anything else.
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and BYU all have prominent rushing attacks, which have produced a 1,000-yard rusher (Alabama’s Najee Harris, 1,038) and two 750-yard rushers (BYU’s Tyler Allgeier, 957, and Clemson’s Travis Etienne, 758), while Ohio State’s Master Teague III and Trey Sermon have combined for 770 yards. Fields has also run for five touchdowns, another drain on his touchdown pass opportunities.
At Florida, no such rushing threat exists. Leading rusher Dameon Pierce has 417 yards, while no other Gator has reached 200.
Yards per possession also show Trask, Jones and Wilson to be bigger pieces of their offenses than Lawrence and Fields. On the possessions they have played, excluding kneel-downs and other clock-killing possessions, Trask and Jones are averaging 34.5 yards per possession while Wilson is not far behind at 32.2. Lawrence is next at 27.3 before Fields at 23.
Where Jones and Wilson and to a lesser extent Fields make up the gap on Trask is prorating their season statistics to Trask’s attempts. Trask has benefitted from more attempts than the other four, throwing 322 passes to Wilson’s 267, Jones’ 255, Lawrence’s 250 and Fields’ 137.
If all five quarterbacks had 322 attempts, based on their current yards per attempt numbers, Jones would lead them all with 3,930 yards over Wilson’s 3,574 and Fields’ 3,312, all over Trask’s actual 3,243. None would be able to match Trask’s 38 touchdowns (Fields comes closest with a projected 35.1) and all would likely throw an interception in the extra attempts, giving Trask three compared to four from the others.
Comparing Trask and Jones will soon become much easier. Their teams will play in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19 in Atlanta.
“The next two weeks are going to be huge in that,” SEC Network analyst Chris Doering told The Tuscaloosa News. “It’ll be nice to see the two quarterbacks go up against the same defense in back-to-back weeks and then a chance to go head-to-head, it’ll obviously be a chance for those guys to show themselves on a big stage.
“Right now, it’s splitting hairs.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson