Short pass game key to Luck's success
October, 18, 2011
By Toby Petitpas, Sharon Katz, Gil Bransford, Jason Starrett and Nate Salinas | ESPN.com
Chris Morrison/US Presswire
Andrew Luck is completing 80.1 percent of his passes thrown less than 10 yards, a slightly higher percentage than last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton (75.5 percent).
In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations, while one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight. In Week 7, we saw several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates. Here are the candidates who helped themselves the most.
(1) Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal
Luck passed for over 300 yards for the second straight game in Stanford’s win against Washington State. Despite attempting more passes (12) of 20-plus yards than in any other game over the last two seasons, Luck found success keeping it short. Luck was 20-of-24 with three touchdowns and no interceptions on throws of 20 yards or fewer and 16-of-17 on throws shorter than 10 yards. For the season, Luck is completing 80.1 percent of his passes thrown less than 10 yards, a slightly higher percentage than last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton who completed 75.5 percent of the same throws.
(2) Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Trent Richardson set new career-highs with 183 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries in Alabama’s win over Ole Miss. Richardson ran through the Rebel defense with 127 of his 183 yards (69.4 percent) coming after contact, including 80 such yards on his 76-yard touchdown run. It was Richardson’s third 40-plus yard touchdown run this season, which is tied with LaMichael James for most in FBS.
(3) Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos
Moore completed 26-of-30 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns in Boise State’s win over Colorado State. It was Moore’s eighth career game with four or more touchdown passes, trailing only Houston’s Case Keenum (14) for the most in FBS since 2008. Moore did much of his damage against the Rams in shotgun formation, where he completed 19-of-22 attempts for 294 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. It was Moore’s highest completion percentage while in shotgun during a game over the last three seasons.
(4) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers
Wilson completed 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) passes for 166 yards and a touchdown in Wisconsin’s win against Indiana. Wilson has now completed at least 70 percent of his passes in all six games this season. The only other player to accomplish this feat this season is Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. No other FBS player that has played in at least four games has completed 70 percent or more of their passes in every game. Wilson showcased his versatility against the Hoosiers. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from running back Montee Ball in the second quarter and both of his rushing attempts gained 15 yards or more. For the season, 25 percent (6-24) of Wilson’s rushes have gained 15 yards or more.
(5) Landry Jones, Oklahoma Sooners
Jones passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns in Oklahoma’s lopsided win over Kansas. Jones has now passed for more than 300 yards in five of his six games this season, and has thrown at least three touchdowns in four of the six games. Jones completed seven-of-13 throws of 15-plus yards against Kansas, including three touchdowns. The seven completions and three touchdowns both tied career-highs. Jones was at his best when targeting Ryan Broyles on these throws. Broyles caught four of the seven passes and two of the three touchdowns.
(6) Robert Griffin III, Baylor Bears
Griffin III threw for a career-high 430 yards and three touchdowns in Baylor’s loss at Texas A&M. It was Griffin’s fourth game this season with at least three touchdown passes and 300 yards passing, which is tied for the most such games in FBS. Against the Aggies, Griffin was particularly successful using play action. Griffin completed 16-of-22 passes following a run fake for 252 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, 14 of Griffin’s 22 touchdown passes have followed play action.