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2016 Heisman Race: Lamar Jackson vs Deshaun Watson

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football each December. This year, the debate, although not highly-argued, is between two ACC quarterbacks, one of which deserves the award much more than the other. Let’s match up the two leaders for the Heisman race: Lamar Jackson vs. Deshaun Watson.

Lamar Jackson took the country into a frenzy this season, as he scored 25 touchdowns in his first four games. Since then, he’s come back down to earth, but only by a little.

Deshaun Watson was a frontrunner to win the award when the season began, and he’s played well enough to be invited to New York City for the award presentation. Watson has managed better passing numbers than Jackson, but to being a Heisman than just throwing the football.

OVerall numbers

As mentioned above, Deshaun Watson has statistically been the better passer of the two major candidates. Watson has thrown for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns. Lamar Jackson, on the other hand, has thrown for 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Lamar Jackson Vs. DeShawn Watson
Did Lamar Jackson foreshadow a Heisman win in his game against NC State? (Photo: USA Today Sports)

When diving deeper into the numbers, Jackson gets a slight advantage. He’s completed passes for an average gain of 15.4 yards, which is sixth in the nation. However, Deshaun Watson is barely at 8.0 yards per completion. Jackson also has a better longest pass on the year, as he’s thrown a 79-yard bomb to Jaylen Smith.

Although Jackson’s edge over Watson in the passing category is small, the difference in rushing totals is huge. Jackson has ran for 1,538 yards, which is almost 1,000 more yards than Watson’s total of 549 yards. Jackson also has 15 more rushing scores than Watson, with a grand total of 21. All in all, Jackson has 51 total touchdowns compared to Watson’s 43.

Jackson is also first in the NCAA among quarterbacks in rushing yards per game. He’s put up 128.2 yards per game, which is 10 yards better than the next best passer. The sophomore quarterback is also second in the NCAA in total offense, fourth in total touchdowns, and eighth in total rushing yards.

In comparison, Deshaun Watson’s best ranking in overall stats comes in passing completions, as he is fourth in the nation. He’s also fifth in passing touchdowns and passing yards.

If the Heisman goes to the most outstanding player in college football, Lamar Jackson has shown he is much more deserving than Watson in terms of season stats.

Individual Bests

In terms of total yards, Lamar Jackson’s best game came against Syracuse. Jackson passed for 411 yards, while rushing for 199 yards. Combined, that’s a healthy 610 total yards. Jackson also scored five touchdowns in the 62-28 win.

For Watson, he accounted for the most yards of his career in a game against Pittsburgh. The Tiger threw for 580 yards on 70 passing attempts. Watson threw three scores, but also threw three picks in the one-point loss.

When it comes to touchdowns, Jackson yet again has the edge. In his first game of the year, Jackson scored eight touchdowns, six of which came threw the air.

Deshaun Watson has had a spectacular year, but will it be enough to win the Heisman? (Photo: Brett Davis/Fox Sports)

Watson reached paydirt five times in two games this season. His first came against Jackson’s Cardinals. He also threw three picks in the game. The second time he scored five times in a game was against Virginia Tech, as he tossed three scores and scampered into the end zone twice.

ESPN’s QBR stat evaluates quarterbacks on every play of a game, and Jackson blows Watson out of the water in this one. Not only did Jackson have a better season-best of the two at 99.8 (100 is a perfect score), but he’s also been better throughout the year. Jackson had a rating of 90.0 or better five times this season, while Watson only had three of such games. Jackson’s season average of 77.2 is better than Watson’s 74.8.

Individual Worsts

As we dive into worst games each has played, it turns each player was basically as bad as the other.

Jackson was stifled by Houston late in the year, putting up 211 passing yards and 33 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Jackson scored just once, but did not throw an interception.

Deshaun Watson’s worst performance came against Auburn. In the game, Watson managed just 248 passing yards. Watson added 21 rushing yards on 11 attempts. He also threw for one touchdown and one interception.

The Head-to-Head Matchup

It is ridiculous that people use the fact that the two played each other in the same game and that that game should be a part of the Heisman argument. If one played cornerback and the other played wide receiver, then I could appreciate the argument. However, just because the two played each other, doesn’t mean they faced the same competition.

Just for kicks and giggles, let’s compare the numbers. Jackson completed 27 of his 44 passes for 295 yards. He threw one touchdown and one pick. Jackson was stellar on the ground, as he ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

Watson converted 20 of his 31 passing attempts for 306 yards. He passed for five scores, but was also picked off three times. On the ground, Watson rushed for 91 yards and didn’t score.

In total, Jackson was more efficient. He racked up 457 total yards, compared to Watson’s 397. Although Watson had more touchdowns, he also had three interceptions and a fumble. Jackson had the better game, but this argument should not be used.

The Verdict

The better season has been had by Lamar Jackson. He’s had way more rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and total yards. He’s had a few hiccups as the season has gone on, but that doesn’t take away from how great he’s been.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football, Lamar Jackson has been the most outstanding player in the nation this season.

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