The Heisman finalists were announced Monday night after a multitude of conference games were played along with the determination of the college playoffs. Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey were voted as the three players that will head to New York City Saturday night.
It’s time to breakdown the players individually, and see why they have been chosen as Heisman finalists.
First up is the Stanford sophomore that just recently broke Barry Sanders 27-year record for all-purpose yards gained.
Christian McCaffrey, Sophomore, Stanford:
319 carries, 1,847 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 41 receptions, 540 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 return touchdown.
Christian McCaffrey is one of the most versatile players in the country as he is an instrumental piece in both the rushing and receiving department. He also has a duty in punt and kick returns. Stanford has relied heavily on McCaffrey’s skills to help them win football games. One could easily say that he is the most important person on any collegiate football team.
McCaffrey has racked up 1,874 rushing yards, 540 receiving yards, 39 passing yards, 67 punt return yards, and 1042 kick returning yards. That is the most all-purpose yards gained by a collegiate football player ever. Barry Sanders, at the time, was also a running back that would rush and receive passes, punt returns, and kick returns.
Anytime you break a Barry Sanders record you are probably doing something good. The only downside to the record is that McCaffrey has played two more games than Sanders and will play another game during the bowl season.
McCaffrey has rushed for 100 yards or more in 10 of 13 games. He has also rushed for over 200 yards in three games. The sophomore has over 100 receiving yards in two games and has a receiving touchdown in both.
Stanford has faced three top 50 pass defenses, two top 30 rushing defenses, and two top-15 scoring defenses. Ironically, Northwestern and Washington make up the two teams in all three of these categories. The other top 50 pass defense is UCLA in which they rank 41st in the country.
The Stanford sophomore ran for 66 yards on 12 carries and caught five receptions for 23 yards against Northwestern on the first game of the year. Against Washington, McCaffrey rushed 109 yards on 23 carries and five catches for 112 yards with a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. Against UCLA’s tough pass defense McCaffrey only caught one ball for four yards but rushed for 243 yards on 25 carries with four rushing touchdowns.
McCaffrey has totaled 38 carries for 175 yards and a rushing touchdown against two of the best rush defenses in the country.
Against strong pass defense, McCaffrey totaled six catches for 27 yards. McCaffrey did not perform well in the passing department against two of the best pass defenses.
Unfortunately, McCaffrey has not played well against teams that have a strong pass and rush defense. Against those teams he averaged 4.6 yards per carry, which is acceptable at best, averaged three catches for a mere 14 yards and has been held without a receiving touchdown.
At the same time McCaffrey has performed well against the Associated Press’ ranked teams. He averaged six yards per carry along with five rushing touchdowns and racked up 11 receptions for 165 yards and a receiving touchdown.
The two running back finalists, Henry and McCaffrey, have no common opponents, which makes it very tough to compare the two. Henry is a central cog in Alabama’s rushing game but doesn’t provide much help outside of that. McCaffrey seems like he is on the field for every play that is not defensive.
The Heisman Trophy is a representation of the most valuable player in collegiate football. The other two candidates outside of McCaffrey have led their teams to the playoffs. This will hurt McCaffrey because it is tough to win the most valuable player award when your team hasn’t reached the promise land.
Outside of the College Football Playoffs, McCaffrey is the most important player for his team and is relied on more than any other player in the country. He has racked up the second most rushing yards in the country while receiving the second most carries. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry and he is relied upon immensely in comparison to other running backs.
The Stanford sophomore has done it all and has earned his keep as a Heisman finalist. If the committee is looking for somebody who means the world to their team and has exceptional stats, McCaffrey is their guy.