If you read this site with any regularity, you may already know that I’ve questioned Pryor’s Heisman candidacy in the past. My position since the start of the year has been that Pryor needed to show improvement in several key areas before I would say he should get an invite to New York. So far Pryor has shown improvement, but we are all certainly waiting to see how he does against a quality opponent in a hostile environment (for example Saturday against Wisconsin.) Apparently ESPN’s KC Joyner doesn’t need to wait that long.
His numbers may look gaudy at first glance, but a closer look at them and the real reasons he is among the front-runners for this award shows that Pryor may be the most overrated player in college football.
Joyner is not a fan. And I have to say I’d respect him a lot more if he would simply talk about the parts of Pryor’s game that he didn’t like, but instead he uses this argument-
Pryor is currently ranked sixth in FBS in passer rating, tied for seventh in touchdown passes, 14th in completion percentage and 13th in yards per pass attempt.
Those are all elite totals, yes — but Pryor’s performance is also skewed by favorable circumstances. Four of his games this year have come against Marshall Thundering Herd (1-4 Conference USA team), Eastern Michigan Eagles (0-6 MAC team), Ohio Bobcats (3-3 MAC team with two wins coming against Wofford and Eastern Michigan) and Indiana Hoosiers (possibly the worst team in the Big 10).
Pryor completed 83 out of 110 passes for 1,040 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in these contests. That equates to a phenomenal 187.24 passer rating when facing subpar opponents.
Now look at how Pryor did when the competition level was turned up. In the games against the Miami (FL) Hurricanes and Illinois Fighting Illini, he completed 21 of 43 passes for 309 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Put those into the quarterback calculator and it comes up with a passer rating of 127.52, a total that would rank 63rd in FBS so far this year.
So, basically Joyner says that Terrelle’s numbers are so impressive because he has faced inferior competition. I’m not really even going to argue that. The defenses that Ohio State has faced, with the exception of Miami and Illinois have not been good at all. And Pryor has put up big numbers in those games, as he is supposed to. Against Miami and a very underrated Illinois defense Pryor got the job done offensively (with an injury against Illinois remember, that forced the Buckeyes into a grind it out approach for the entire 4th quarter) while minimizing turnovers.
The biggest problem I have with Joyner’s piece is the ridiculous logic he uses. He says take away the games against easy opponents and then just use the efficiency rating for Pryor (127.52) against the rest of the league. Wouldn’t you have to adjust the ratings for all the QBs?
Or does that not grab enough headlines?
Should we discount Kellen Moore’s stats against Wyoming, New Mexico State and Toledo? Do we throw out Stanzi’s numbers against Eastern Illinois, Iowa State and Ball State? Do we judge Mallett only by his performance against Georgia and his 3 INT game against Alabama? We don’t want Andrew Luck’s 2 INT performance against Oregon to count against his totals now do we?
Again, I am not going to say that right now I think Pryor deserves the award. I am encouraged by the progress that Pryor has made this year. His performances against Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan will ultimately be the difference in his Heisman eligibility. I just can’t believe how weak an argument someone called ‘the football scientist’ would make.