Trace McSorley Launched Himself Back Into Heisman Talks

Trace McSorley stood alone as the most impressive player on the field on Saturday against Ohio State — easily one of the most talented teams in the country.

He threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns but especially shined on the ground. Despite being forced out of the pocket on numerous occasions by an elite Ohio State defensive line, the Virginia native managed to rush for a career high 175 yards.

To put that in perspective, McSorley was involved in more than 93 percent of Penn State’s offense in terms of yardage. Dwayne Haskins had the opportunity to leap right into the Heisman conversation, but his 270 yards through the air and 8 yards on the ground are almost laughable compared to McSorley’s relative production.

It’s too early to say that McSorley has punched a ticket to New York, but he certainly had that career-defining game that every Heisman winner needs.

McSorley leads all quarterbacks in the FBS with a run EPA of 20.0, a measure of expected points added through rushes. Although his passing stats haven’t been as impressive, his supporting cast is partially to blame.

The offensive line crumbled plenty of times on Saturday, giving up four sacks and eleven tackles for loss. Penn State defense, in comparison, sacked Dwayne Haskins just once and had five tackles for loss. 

McSorley was really the only reason the team could get anything going offensively at all, and he did so against the most talented Ohio State team to ever come through the program. The other quarterbacks in the conversation for Heisman haven’t been tested like that yet.

Tua Tagovailoa leads the FBS in quarterback rating and is having a great season — he’s got 1,161 passing yards already, 14 touchdowns, and not a single interception. Still, the Crimson Tide have yet to face LSU and Auburn, the two best teams on their schedule.

The same is true of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. Grier’s ridiculous passer rating of 200.7 and his 17:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio is hard to argue with, but the Mountaineers haven’t faced very difficult competition. West Virginia still has games at Texas and Oklahoma State before taking on Oklahoma in the regular season finale.

The other most obvious quarterback candidate for Heisman leads the Sooners’ offense, just as Baker Mayfield did in 2017. Like Grier, Kyler Murray plays in the Big 12, where defense isn’t exactly the focus. Murray’s 1,460 yards, 17 touchdowns, and two interceptions give him a 230.9 passer rating.

Perhaps that’s not too surprising while playing the likes of Florida Atlantic and Army. Challenges await the Sooners, though, with Texas, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia all coming up on the schedule.

McSorley’s Heisman argument, at the moment, hinges on the fact that he was far-and-clear the best player on the field against the then-No. 4 team in the country. He carried his team as far as he could and did everything (even throwing a 27-yard first down to put the ball in Buckeye territory on the last drive) he could to win the game.

Although it wasn’t enough to overcome the much more talented Buckeyes, he proved he’s among the nation’s best at the position and deserves some Heisman attention in the process.

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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