Christopher Walsh’s All Things CW notes column will appear in five parts this week, one each day as Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to host Auburn for the Iron Bowl.
That is …
The Heisman Trophy race is drawing to a close without a clear front-runner, although USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the flavor of the week, while Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud seems to be the guy everyone is putting on their top-3s -Choice would like to put , but maybe not first. At least not yet.
The reigning award winner is natural Bryce Youngthe first quarterback in Alabama Crimson Tide history to receive college football’s most prestigious honor.
His bid to become the second repeat champion (alongside Archie Griffin) has had its fair share of troubles this season, including two losses in the final game as Young watched helplessly on the touchline and a shoulder injury that cost him a game and then left him somewhat restricted.
The numbers reflect that and more.
Since Young wears the number 9, here are nine statistical categories that compare what he’s done during his Heisman year and this season so far.
This is the area of greatest improvement as the Alabama line was significantly better at pass protection. A year ago, Young was catching 39 sacks for 275 yards, averaging 2.6 sacks per game and 18.3 yards.
This season he’s at 1.6 per game for 11.3 yards.
Young is at 63.8 percent this season compared to 66.9 percent in 2021.
He averaged 24.4 to 36.5 last season. He’s 21.0 to 32.9, so Young had fewer chances.
It also means fewer yards. He is averaging 58.4 fewer passing yards, down from 324.8 per game last season to 266.4.
It basically means two deep completions or big wins.
Overall rating of passers-by
Young ended last season with a 167.5 efficiency rating, down after his Heisman win thanks to a 143.2 rating against Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl and a 114.6 against Georgia in the National Championship Game.
So far this season he sits at 153.5.
Young suffered a shoulder injury in October and did not play against Texas A&M. As a result, he went from 1,329 passing yards last month to 877.
But November is college football’s crunch time, and while Young still has a game to play against Auburn, the numbers reflect just how severe the ongoing setback he has endured.
2021: 101-for-151, 1,448 yards, 66.9 percent, 9.6 average, 14 touchdowns, 1 interception, 79 longest, 16 sacks, 176.7 rating.
2022: 64-for-108, 758 yards, 59.3 percent, 7.0 average, 6 touchdowns, 1 interception, 65 longest, 8 sacks, 134.7 rating
Passing the red zone
Scroll to Next
In 2021, Young was 41-to-62 for 304 yards, with 20 touchdowns and one interception on shots in the opponent’s 20. He had a 66.1 percent completion percentage and a 201.5 passer rating.
This season he’s 27-for-49 for 206 yards, with 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. His graduation percentage is 55.1 percent and his grade is 196.7.
Third down passing
This is the stat that many people thought set Young apart from the competition last season. Not only did his completion percentage increase on the third descent (71.7 percent compared to 68.5 on the first descent and 65.0 on the second), but so did his passer rating.
Despite making four passes on third downs in 2021, his rating was 205.2, up from 161.2 on first downs and 168.7 on second downs.
This season, Young’s third-down completion percentage is lowest (56.2 percent), but his passer rating is highest at 167.8.
Why? Because he has nine touchdown passes and no interceptions on third downs this season.
Young averaged 6.7 touchdowns per pickoff in 2021. So far this season it’s 6.0.
However, keep in mind that three of Young’s interceptions last season came in the college football playoffs after he had already won the Heisman. When voting took place, he was averaging 14.3 touchdowns per interception.
Home vs Away
In 2021, Young had a completion percentage of 73.3 at home and 61.0 on the road. His passer rating went from a 192.5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium to a 153.4 on the street.
Such break-ins are common.
This season, his completion percentage is 67.4 at home and 61.2 on the road — which is pretty remarkable considering where the Crimson Tide has played this season. However, his passer rating was 20 points lower overall, 178.6 at home compared to 134.7 in games on the road.
This is where the fewer yards come into play and the possibility of not being able to attack the downfield as strongly.
Finally, the one that is perhaps the most revealing because it’s the only situation that’s fairly consistent:
2021: 113-for-165, 1,390 yards, 68.5 percent, 8.4 average, 11 TDs, 0 interceptions, 81 longest 11 sacks, 161.2 rating
2022: 93-for-132, 1,086 yards, 70.5 percent, 8.2 average, 7 TDs, 2 interceptions, 50 longest, 6 sacks, 154.0 rating
In one respect, it’s extremely impressive to see the kind of numbers Young has released with the revamped receiving corps that could finally come together, especially given his shoulder issues.
It also serves as a testament to just how much Young missed his top two wide receivers from a year ago. Jamesson Williams and John Metchie III.
However, en route to what will likely be his final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Young simply isn’t posting Heisman-worthy stats.
A standout performance against Auburn could bring him back to New York as a finalist, but chances are he’ll be congratulating one of the other California-connected quarterbacks.
Greatest rivalry really is out of the question, Alabama-Auburn
Get your Crimson Tide tickets from SI Tickets HERE.