Just 76 players in the history of college football have earned the designation of Heisman Trophy winners. First awarded in 1935, the Heisman Trophy is considered the sport’s pinnacle of individual achievement.
SaturdayBlitz.com is tracking the race to the 78th Heisman Trophy throughout the 2013 college football season via the Heisman Top 25. Every week throughout the season, we are tracking the progress of the contenders, both their on-field impact and media presence.
Keith Price’s inclusion among the preseason Heisman Top 25 might seem like a stretch, considering the unremarkable season he struggled through. Rumors of his imminent benching swirled on a seemingly weekly basis, analysts questioned his body language and demeanor and what ifs lingered.
Running back Bishop Sankey — No. 24 on the Heisman Top 25 — had a star-turn at running back. The Husky defense underwent one of the most dramatic single season face-lifts in recent memory. What if Price produced at the previous season’s level?
In 2011, the Pac-12 Conference hosted the Heisman Trophy runner-up and odds-on favorite to go No. 1 in the following spring’s NFL draft; the top junior quarterback in the nation; and close on their heels was Washington’s rising sophomore.
Price replaced first round draft pick Jake Locker in 2011 and immediately outperformed his predecessor. He completed nearly 67 percent of his pass attempts, scored 33 touchdowns through the air (and another three on the ground) and captained the nation’s No. 25 ranked scoring offense. Only aforementioned Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley were better among Pac-12 quarterbacks, and the margin was narrow. Considering the two were among college football’s best quarterbacks that season, Price was in elite company.
A return to such form, and no one will need wonder what if?
How Keith Price Wins The Heisman
Price can effectively run an offense. He demonstrated as much during the Huskies’ 2011 campaign. Memories are short — pundits might forget just how good Price was in 2011. The good news is that it works both ways.
Should Price demonstrate short memory, leaving his forgettable junior season in the rear view, Washington will factor into the Pac-12 North race. An experienced and talent roster surrounds him, including primary receiving targets Kasen Williams and Sankey (No. 2 target and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ status is in question after a DUI arrest).
Steve Sarkisian’s implementation of a no-huddle offense should translate to more snaps, quicker plays and more opportunities, all while keeping opposing defenses off-balance. Price can put up significant numbers operating in this system, feeding off the outstanding rushing of Sankey.
Price passed 432 times in 2012, 70 more than the season prior. Should he match last season’s attempts, but complete at a pace more comparable to 2011, Price could flirt with the 4000-yard mark.
• 263-432 passing (60.9 percent)
• 2728 yards (6.3 per completion)
• 19 touchdowns/13 interceptions
• 2 rushing touchdowns
Compared To Past Heisman Winners
- Ty Detmer, 1990: LaVell Edwards’ system produced Steve Sarkisian, just a few short years after it fostered the Heisman candidacy of Detmer. The new style Sarkisian is introducing in Seattle likely won’t result in the 562 pass attempts Detmer threw in 1990, but it could facilitate some gaudy numbers should Price settle in. Detmer threw 41 touchdowns in his Heisman-winning season, a ratio in fact well below Price’s 2011 output.
- Danny Wuerffel, 1996: Playing for a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Steve Spurrier, Wuerffel claimed one of his own on a 3625-yard, 39-touchdown campaign. Washington’s new offense may bear a similarity to the free-wheeling Fun-n-Gun offense that cultivated Wuerffel’s Heisman campaign.