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How Bryce Young stacks up against recent Heisman QBs after eight games

There’s still a third of the regular season remaining. However, Bryce Young might want to start thinking about booking a flight to New York in December.

The sophomore quarterback is coming off his best performance in an Alabama uniform, recording 413 yards of total offense and four touchdowns against Tennessee. The career night continued a three-week surge that has seen him throw for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception while rushing for 59 yards and two more scores on the ground.

Young is currently the frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race, receiving +185 odds from BetMGM. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is his closest competition at +250 odds, while Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is a distant third at +500 odds.

While DeVonta Smith took home the Heisman Trophy for Alabama last year, the receiver’s claim to the honor was a rarity. The award has gone to a quarterback in 12 of the last 15 years with Smith and Alabama running backs Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram serving as the outliers.

Given this year’s frontrunners, it’s likely the award reverts back to its usual style of recipient. With that in mind, here’s a look at how Young stacks up to the last five Heisman quarterbacks following the eighth game of their award-winning seasons.

Passing stats through eight games
Name (year) Comp % Yards TD INT Efficiency rating 

Bryce Young (2021)

70.0

2,453

26

3

177.10

Joe Burrow (2019)

78.8

2,805

30

4

204.47

Kyler Murray (2018)

73.2

2,329

28

3

227.34

Baker Mayfield (2017)

72.4

2,628

23

3

195.62

Lamar Jackson (2016)

58.3

2,522

22

5

159.57

Marcus Mariota (2014)

68.8

2,283

24

1

192.19

How Young stacks up: Young is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing stats compared to previous Heisman winners at this stage of the season. However, given his low rushing totals, he might need to overcompensate through the air if he wants to match the total production accumulated by members of the elite group.

Young has seen his passing yards per game rise in recent weeks. That should continue following Alabama's open week as the Crimson Tide hosts an LSU team that ranks 90th in the nation, allowing 242.4 yards per game through the air. On the flip side, Alabama could still face two top-10 pass defenses as it hosts Arkansas (No. 8, 167.5 ypg) on Nov. 20 before possibly taking on Georgia (No. 2, 144.9 ypg) in the SEC Championship Game.

Young could use a little help from his receivers as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Alabama receivers have already recorded 16 drops over eight games this year. That's just one less than the Tide tallied over 13 games last season. Improvement in that area could help Young boost both his completion percentage and passer rating moving forward.

Young's touchdown to interception ratio is also solid. He hasn't thrown an interception in either of Alabama's last two games after being picked off in each of the three previous weeks.

Rushing stats through eight games 
Name (year) Yards YPC TDs

Bryce Young (2021)

40

1.05

2

Joe Burrow (2019)

125

2.40

3

Kyler Murray (2018)

474

6.68

6

Baker Mayfield (2017)

190

3.52

4

Lamar Jackson (2016)

996

6.78

16

Marcus Mariota (2014)

325

5.24

5

How Young stacks up: It's no surprise that Young ranks at the bottom of each of these categories. While the dual-threat passer is capable of making plays with his feet, he much prefers to buy time in the pocket while keeping his eyes locked downfield for open receivers. Nevertheless, an uptick in rushing yards over the next few weeks could improve his Heisman odds dramatically.

Two weeks ago, Young was actually in the red when it came to rushing production. Since then he's combined for 60 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries over games against Mississippi State and Tennessee. It's worth noting that sacks count against quarterbacks' rushing totals at the college level, so an improved performance from Alabama's offensive line could also allow Young to improve his production on the ground.

Last weekend was the first time this season that Young truly flashed his ability to pick up yards with his feet as he ran for 56 yards and two touchdowns on eight non-sack carries.

“He’s done a really good job of scrambling,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said following the game. “He’s really deceptively quick and has a really good burst and moves around very effectively in the pocket, so he’s not easy to sack.”

Tuesday, left tackle Evan Neal also praised Young's scrambling ability, stating there were times against Tennessee where he was left to just watch as the quarterback dodged past defenders en route to first downs.

"I'm like 'All right, what am I supposed to do? I don't want to hold the guy,'" Neal said with a smile. "Kinda exciting, man. He kinda surprised me. I didn't know he was that shifty."

Overall assessment 

The past five Heisman quarterbacks put up insane numbers en route to earning the award. Burrow recorded arguably the best statistical season in college football history two years ago, while Jackson put up video-game numbers with both his arm and his feet in 2016.

While Young doesn't quite match the past five Heisman quarterback's numbers at the moment, he might not need to in order to come away with this year's trophy. The Alabama quarterback's current stats compare favorably to Stroud's at Ohio State, and he already has a head-to-head win over Corral and Ole Miss.

Out of the five previous Heisman quarterbacks used in the comparison above, only Jackson failed to make the College Football Playoff. If Young continues at this pace and is able to lead Alabama to an SEC title and a trip to the playoff, he should be in good shape to take home the hardware in December.

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young. Photo | USA TODAY
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young. Photo | USA TODAY