Heisman hype heightens as BYU approaches Texas State game
Zach Wilson and BYU are set to play their first home game in front of fans on Saturday night against Texas State. The Cougars are 5-0 for the first time since the Max Hall era at BYU and the hype around Zach Wilson is higher than ever.
Wilson continues to gain national attention from prominent analysts and commentators, namely Heisman winners Andre Ware from Houston and Desmond Howard from Michigan. Howard said he would definitely buy Wilson’s stock in the Heisman race.
“I love what I’ve seen from this young man so far this season,” Howard said. “I tell you what, last weekend I was in my hotel room in Tuscaloosa and I’m listening to Andre Ware call the Houston Cougars versus the BYU Cougars and I hear him talk about Wilson so glowingly and pointing out the little things that Wilson does so well. It made me pay attention to this young man.”
Wilson is currently ranked fourth on ESPN’s “Heisman Watch,” and he also has the fourth-best odds to win the trophy according to Vegas Insider.
So what makes Wilson such a prominent Heisman Trophy contender? Here are a few factors.
BYU’s 5-0 record
If the Cougars lost any of their first five games, Wilson would unquestionably be out of any and all Heisman talk. But, the Cougars success has highlighted the junior quarterback’s ability to pick defenses apart and quickly move the ball downfield.
Surely Wilson is not solely responsible for the Cougars’ perfect start, but the spotless record is certainly a defining characteristic of his Heisman campaign as a captain and the orchestrator of the offense. Wilson will need to lead the Cougars to a sixth-straight win on Saturday night if he would like to keep his name in the race.
Wilson is completing nearly 80 percent of the passes he throws this season. In fact, Wilson is on track to set the record for the highest single-season pass completion percentage in NCAA football history. Former Texas standout Colt McCoy (76.7%) is the current record holder. Wilson’s 78.7% completion rate is not the only impressive thing about his passing ability, however.
Wilson has a total of 12 passing touchdowns and just one interception through five games. A huge improvement from last season, when Wilson had 11 total touchdowns and nine interceptions. Wilson has thrown his last 132 passes without throwing an interception, the sixth-longest streak in BYU history.
The junior quarterback will need to attempt 33 more passes without an interception to surpass Charlie Peterson, the current record holder in this category. He could very well hold the record by the end of Saturday night’s meeting with the Bobcats.
“Mahomes-like” style of play
College football analysts have compared Wilson to several NFL quarterbacks, most notably Super Bowl MVPs Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Wilson admirer and ESPN analyst Andre Ware said Wilson was “a poor man’s Aaron Rodgers in a college football uniform.”
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel put the Mahomes comparison right in the headline of his feature story, saying, “With Mahomes-like flashes, BYU star QB Zach Wilson turning heads at next level.”
“Wilson has flashed an unmatched verve that’s allowed him to emerge as one of the season’s most compelling players,” Thamel said in the article. “He’s sashayed into the spotlight with no-look throws from the Mahomes playbook.”
Mahomes himself recognized Wilson’s game via Twitter after BYU ran a play called “Chiefs,” applauding BYU for the execution of its copy-cat play.
Many of Wilson’s coaches and teammates have alluded to Zach’s diligence on and off the field. In a press conference following the Cougars victory in Houston, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said, “I guarantee (Zach) probably already addressed it, the mistakes he made, probably on the flight home.”
Wilson has been known to be very dedicated in watching film and studying various aspects of the game. Wilson even traveled to California several times over the summer to train with quarterback coach and former BYU great John Beck.
Wilson gets his next chance to make his Heisman case and extend the Cougar win streak against Texas State on Saturday, Oct. 24. BYU announced that 6,000 fans will be permitted to attend the game, which will also be broadcast nationally on ESPN at 8:15 p.m. MT.