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College Football Today: QBs Continue to Dominate the Heisman

October 25, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
DeVonta Smith is the last non-QB to win the Heisman Trophy, when he was on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
DeVonta Smith was the last non-QB to win the Heisman. (All-Pro Reels Photography)

With Texas QB Quinn Evers (shoulder) sidelined, Maalik Murphy is expected to start for the Longhorns; Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke (undisclosed) will return to action Saturday against UVA; and Ohio State will be without backup QB Devin Brown (leg) for a few weeks. Here are some other stories we’re following in Week Nine of the college football season…

Heisman Trophy Watch

Wow, has the Heisman Trophy ever been ruled by quarterbacks in recent years. In fact, since 2016, the only non-QB to take home the award was former Alabama WR DeVonta Smith.

He was so good in fact, that when he was taken 10th overall by Philadelphia in 2021, we correctly anticipated he would elevate Eagle QB Jalen Hurts‘ game. Smith did that and more, and was even better last year.

But strangely, in his third season — the year in which wide receivers traditionally break out — he hasn’t been as good. Smith hasn’t been targeted as much and has seen his YPR dip for the second straight season. In Week Seven he did get 11 targets, but only managed five receptions for just 44 yards, and then last week he had a season low five targets — for the fourth time through seven games. For context, that matches the total number of times he had five targets or fewer all of last season. (Of course, it doesn’t help when Smith is ostensibly being held… see video below).

The addition of A.J. Brown didn’t seem to affect Smith’s performance last year (Smith had 136 targets to Brown’s 145), but it sure seems to be doing so in 2023 (Smith has 50 targets compared to Brown’s 75).

At this point, Smith is a low-end WR2 for Week Eight, but one with upside potential.

Oh, and that whole Heisman thing? Keep an eye out for LSU QB Jayden Daniels, as he’s become a legitimate contender.

Malik Nabers Improving His Draft Stock

Speaking of LSU, circle its Week 10 matchup against Alabama as one of the top games of November to watch.

Currently a 4.5-point underdog as per lookahead odds at FanDuel, the Tigers are sitting at No. 15 in the country right now. Obviously, any chance they have of overtaking the Crimson Tide for the SEC West lead hinges on winning this game.

That Week Four loss to Ole Miss really hurt, as this currently stands out as the difference between LSU and Alabama. The Tigers lost to Florida State last week, but that wasn’t really a surprise, although most expected LSU to keep that game closer than the 21-point shellacking that transpired.

We’ll be paying close attention to LSU WR Malik Nabers in this game. Projected as a mid first round pick in 2024, he’s taken his game to a whole new level as a junior after posting a brilliant sophomore effort in 2022. Nabers is an all-around talent who specializes in separating himself from coverage within routes, and he should make for a fine WR2 at the NFL level.

Ole Miss WR Trying to Re-establish Himself as a Draft Prospect

Still in the SEC, the aforementioned Ole Miss Rebels have been virtually flawless so far this year, with their only loss coming four weeks ago against Alabama.

Mississippi WR Tre Harris was at one point considered a mid-fifth round pick prospect for 2024, but he’s slipped in most draft rankings thanks to some injury issues this year, leaving him on the outside looking in.

However, he’s posted huge games in two of the last three outings in which he’s played, earning consideration as the best WR in the SEC. If he can keep that vibe going, he could work his way back into the draft or at the very least establish himself as one of the more sought after undrafted free agents next spring.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American rock legend The Eagles formed in 1971, and remain active today, although they did take two breaks, the first of which was rather prolonged. In 1979, they released their sixth album, The Long Run, which featured the lead single “Heartache Tonight.” The B-side was “Teenage Jail,” considered one of the band’s worst songs ever.

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