TJ Yeldon Didn't Improve Heisman Chances in Win over Georgia State

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

Oct 5, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Kevin Norwood (83) and offensive linesman Cyrus Kouandjio (71) in the end zone against the Georgia State Panthers during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

While Nick Saban was right to rest T.J. Yeldon early in Alabama's 45-3 rout of Georgia State, he didn't do his star any favors in terms of his Heisman Trophy chances.

The sophomore running back is a mere dark horse for the award at this stage in the season. Tajh Boyd, Marcus Mariota, Braxton Miller, Jameis Winson and Teddy Bridgewater, among others, are all ahead of Yeldon. He isn't even listed on ESPN's Heisman Watch. A.J. McCarron is the only Crimson Tide player who's receiving votes.

If Yeldon had played the majority of the game against the Panthers, perhaps he could have looked better to the voters. On just six carries, he had 51 yards and a touchdown. Taken into context with the rest of the game, they're great numbers. When projecting those out over the rest of the game, Yeldon very easily could have had 150 yards rushing to go along with three touchdowns.

Of course, more than likely, he could have run for 1,000 yards and scored 15 touchdowns against Georgia State, and it wouldn't have mattered. Critics would have written off this performance, and rightfully so.

A star's Heisman resume is built with great showings in his team's biggest wins of the season. Playing a team that is in its first year in FBS isn't the best proving ground.

The Texas A&M game, on the other hand, is the kind of thing where Heisman winners are born. Yeldon's 149 yards and one touchdown will look great at the end of the season. However, that's kind of been the story with him all season.

You see flashes of the player Yeldon is and what he can be down the road. Unfortunately, he hasn't gotten the opportunity to become a focal point of the offense. Running for 100 yards in two of your team's first five games isn't enough to warrant serious Heisman consideration, no matter whom those 100-yard performances came against.

This could very well change by the end of the season. Once Alabama gets into the thick of SEC play, Saban may rely more heavily on the running game. Yeldon will get more carries and take more of the spotlight.

In terms of his Heisman campaign, it will be a necessity in order for him to overcome the same pitfall that has felled many candidates before him—having two Heisman favorites on the same team. You see it all the time. Offensive stars from a top team end up splitting votes, and neither guy wins.

When Mark Ingram won the Heisman in 2009, he didn't have to deal with a teammate getting consideration as well. Nobody was pushing for Greg McElroy or Julio Jones to win the award.

Nine times out of 10, Alabama's success this season will be credited to McCarron just as much as it's credited to Yeldon. The sophomore back will have to go above and beyond in order to distance himself enough from his quarterback.

That's something he didn't do on Saturday.