Crunching the numbers on Heisman finalists

Crunching the numbers on Heisman finalists
Courtesy: Associated Press

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Heisman ballots have been turned in, the anticipation is mounting and the odds are continuing to go in favor of Oklahoma quarterback Tyler Murray.

While Murray is a very deserving finalist -- as are Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins -- it’s important to dive deeper into the statistics rather than just view them on a surface level.

For example, let’s take a quick glance at each Heisman finalist and their numbers entering bowl season:

Categories Tua Tagovailoa Kyler Murray Dwayne Haskins
Completions 199 241 348
Attempts 294 340 496
Passing yards 3353 4053 4580
Completion percentage 67.7 71.0 70.2
Passing touchdowns 37 40 47
Interception 4 7 8
Touchdown/Interception rate 9.25 5.71 5.88
Rating 202.3 205.7 175.8
Total yards 3543 4945 4702
Total touchdowns 42 51 51

At first glance, it’s clear: Murray and Haskins have both put up exceptional numbers throwing the ball this season. However, an argument can be made that Tagovailoa, given the same opportunities that Murray and Haskins had, would have done the same - if not better.

It’s no secret that Tagovailoa dominated when he was on the field throughout the regular season. He was so dominant in fact, that he barely played in the second half of games for the Crimson tide and only made three appearances in the fourth quarter this season.

When tallying up offensive plays in which the quarterback (Tagovailoa, Murray and Haskins) were directly involved in, the numbers are startling.

On plays that included pass attempts, rush attempts and sacks, Murray played in 94.3 percent of those plays while Haskins came in at 91.7. As for Tagovailoa, he came in at 74.9 percent. In other words, for every four offensive plays that Alabama ran, Tagovailoa was on the sidelines for one of them.

Haskins has 156 more pass attempts than Murray and 202 more than Tagovailoa, according to NCAA.com. That’s 46 percent more than Murray and an astonishing 69 percent more than Tagovailoa.

In terms of finding the end zone, no Heisman finalist is more efficient on his throws that go for six than Tagovailoa.

The former Saint Louis star threw for touchdowns on 12.6 percent of his attempts, while Murray (11.8 percent) and Haskins (9.5 percent) are behind in that category. If Tagovailoa had as many attempts as Murray, he would have thrown for another six touchdowns, bringing his total to 43.

If Tagovailoa had as many pass attempts as Haskins, completing at the same touchdown per attempt rate (7.9 attempts/one touchdown), the Honolulu native would have thrown for an incredible 63 touchdowns this season.

Haskins may have the gaudy passing numbers, but they should come with an asterisk due to the sheer volume of pass attempts he’s had.

The reality is that this year’s Heisman race is a two-horse race between Murray and Tagovailoa. What this race will boil down to is whether or not Tagovailoa is punished by voters for having a smaller sample size than Murray.

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