Three-Point Stance: Heisman Trophy, First Quarter Awards, QBs
Rivals national columnist Mike Farrell is here with with his first Heisman list, some early awards for the Big Ten and SEC, and why are quarterbacks struggling?
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series
1. EARLY HEISMAN TROPHY RANKINGS
It’s been long enough right? Time for the Friday Heisman list from your buddy here and a certain Ole Miss quarterback leads the way.
1. QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss — Eli Manning was the last Ole Miss Heisman finalist but that’s about to change if Corral keeps this up. Corral has thrown for 997 yards and nine touchdowns against zero interceptions. And zero interceptions is the key as he was a bit of a turnover machine last season. He also ran the ball 33 times for 158 yards and five touchdowns. He’s the man right now.
2. QB Bryce Young, Alabama — Young has hit the ground running as the new starter at Alabama and has 10 touchdowns and zero picks to go with 804 yards passing. Oddly he hasn’t hit the ground running on the field as he’s been great in the pocket and not scrambling for yards as he can.
4. QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma — Rattler hasn’t played poorly but more was expected and that’s why he’s down on the list. He’s thrown for 761 yards and seven scores with two interceptions and rushed for 71 yards and two more touchdowns.
5. RB CJ Verdell, Oregon — His numbers don’t overwhelm but he’s the main reason Oregon is undefeated and his performance against Ohio State was Heisman worthy. He has 289 yards rushing and 70 yards receiving for five total touchdowns.
2. FIRST QUARTER AWARDS: BIG TEN AND SEC
We all know how much I love awards so why not break down the Power Five after every team has played at least three games? Today I take a look at the Big Ten and SEC.
The Wake Forest transfer has absolutely set the world on fire as you can see above in my Heisman list and we can’t forget that he was a massive addition for Mel Tucker through the transfer portal. These are supposed to be two separate awards but he’s dominating both.
The Wolverines defensive end leads the conference in sacks through three games, and has led Michigan to a top-10 scoring defense in the country. I picked him as my pre-season Defensive Player of the Year for the Big Ten, and I'm feeling pretty good about this one.
Henderson has quickly established himself as the No. 1 option in the backfield for the Buckeyes, owing to his incredible speed and elusiveness in the open field. He torched Tulsa this past weekend for 277 yards and has been fantastic in all three games so far for Ohio State.
You could make a pretty strong argument that Burke has been the best cornerback on the Buckeyes so far this season. He's the next in an increasingly long line of outstanding corners to come out of Columbus.
Coach of the Year: Mel Tucker, Michigan State
The Spartans are off to a fantastic start of the season - they walloped Northwestern as an underdog opening weekend, and then after an easy victory over Youngstown State they went down to Miami in the 100 degree heat over the past weekend and dispatched with a top-25 Hurricanes team with ease. With the unexpected struggles of Ohio State, the East is more wide open than it has been in a while, and Tucker has Michigan State and its band of transfers in position to capitalize.
There's plenty of really great wide receivers in the conference to choose from, but Olave's elite speed sets him apart from the rest. He's could be a top-10 pick in the spring assuming he stays healthy and if quarterback CJ Stroud can improve his downfield accuracy.
The massive offensive lineman showed well in the opener against Ohio State and his agility in pass protection continues to improve as some scouts are giving him a round one grade.
Stroud won the job over a talented group of quarterbacks but he continues to struggle with a 62-percent completion rate and zero rushing touchdowns go with three picks.
There's a lot of great candidates to choose from here, but Corral gets the easy nod as he's leading a Rebels team that has the second highest-scoring offense in the country. Corral leads the conference in Yards per Attempt, is second in yards and touchdowns, and is No. 1 in passer rating. Oh, and he’s No. 1 on my Heisman list as you can see.
While he might not have the impressive stats of other players on this Dawgs defense, Davis is the linchpin that keeps everything together. The mammoth defensive tackle eats up blockers for breakfast and yet still is able to be a disruptor in the backfield.
Transfer of the Year: QB Will Levis/WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky — This duo, from Penn State and Nebraska respectively, have the Wildcats undefeated despite a close call this past weekend against Chattanooga. Levis has thrown for seven scores while Robinson has caught two of them and also been key in the run game.
Hunter has come in as a freshman and paired with Tank Bigsby to create arguably the top 1-2 punch at running back in the entire country. He's top 20 in the country in rushing yards and leads the country in yards per carry at a staggering 12.3. UGA TE Brock Bowers is a close second with more than 200 yards receiving.
Defensive Freshman of the Year: DT Maason Smith, LSU — Smith has been amazing in a great start to his career and already has three sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss as well as a few quarterback hurries from the inside.
Coach of the Year: Kirby Smart, Georgia
The Dawgs own the single biggest victory of the season, beating Clemson on a neutral field in week one and have held steady since. They've clearly separated themselves from the pack in the East, and have their best chance to return to the playoff since 2017.
Don't get it twisted - despite a bit of a hiccup against UCLA, Stingley is still a generational talent at cornerback. He's got everything you want at that position - great size, fluid hips, and speed to burn. He's a lock to be a top-10 pick and after last weekend’s performance the top-five talk is back.
Corral is the obvious answer here and could end up No. 1 overall if he continues to play lights out but Enagbare has to be mentioned as a first rounder after a great start.
He has the Dawgs undefeated but his performance in the opener against Clemson wasn’t what he needed to stay in any NFL Draft first or second round discussion.
3. HIGH-PROFILE QUARTERBACKS STRUGGLING SO FAR
And speaking of Daniels, I am puzzled why so many top quarterbacks have struggled this season. Daniels, Rattler, Stroud, D.J. Uiagalelei at Clemson, Sam Howell (North Carolina), D’Eriq King (Miami), Michael Penix (Indiana) and others have either struggled to meet expectations or been downright awful so far.
One theory that I’ve floated around and that has actually received some agreement is Name, Image and Likeness. Time will tell if some players feel extra pressure to live up to the expectations of representing a brand or brands or impressing a marketing firm or agent. This theory is hard to prove of course but it’s something to keep an eye on as we just start to scratch the surface of NIL.