Before there was a Toby Gerhart band wagon to jump on College Sports Matchups was talking about the outstanding running back from Stanford being a potential Heisman candidate.
Late in the season on in an informal poll with some of our writers and staff, it appeared Gerhart was the favorite to be named the Heisman winner for this year. Then a funny thing happened. We broke the numbers out to see if what we thought, squared with the numbers.
Uh, it did not.
After considering the data, we swapped horses, and now believe the award should go to Alabama’s Mark Ingram. Giving it to Gerhart would be a nice tribute to an extremely gifted runner who plays for a tremendous academic institution, but this award needs to be based on what happened between the lines.
Here is what we saw that swayed us:
Gerhart finished the year with 1,736 yards rushing, while Ingram finished with 1,542. Slam dunk…Gerhart gets the nod.
No. You see, the Cardinal running back toted the ball 62 times more than Ingram. If Ingram dropped a full yard off his season average of 6.19 yards per carry, he would have accumulated 321 more yards rushing with the additional carries.
Note the average per carry for Ingram was 6.19 yards. When he was given the football, he managed to make more of each touch than Gerhart did on a per carry basis. Behind the Stanford line, he generated 5.58 yards per carry. Fantastic, but still behind the production of Bama’s runner.
Winning the Heisman is about being the best player in college football. If you are a running back, you can further set yourself apart by catching the ball. Ingram is a more complete player than Gerhart in this category.
For the season, Ingram caught 30 passes for the Alabama offense, while Gerhart managed to put his hands around 10 tosses. There was also a large differential in the total yards for reception. Ingram tallied over 300 for the season, which was more than double Gerhart’s total.Another check mark for Ingram.
Ingram also is given the edge when you look at who he gained his yards against. Gerhart faced one team that finished in the Top 20 for total defense, while Alabama put Ingram to work against teams in this category four times.
It is even more impressive when you consider Ingram had two of his best games against No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 15 South Carolina, while having a pretty fair day against a very stout Florida defense. Gerhart’s best performance against a top defense was the 125 yards he toted the ball for against No. 18 Arizona State.
It might be pointed out that Stanford encountered teams rated higher for rushing defense than Alabama, but these teams saw significantly fewer rushing attempts per game than Alabama’s opponents
While those of us at College Sports Matchups are big fans of Toby Gerhart and believe this debate is a worthwhile one, we also believe it is obvious that only one name between these two deserves to be handed the Heisman.
Mark Ingram should be the one that has his name called and brings the first Heisman Trophy to Alabama.