Heaps immediately started to consistently use his QB tools and played much closer to his potential during the final five games of 2010. Now that the final 1/3 of the season, plus a bowl game, has been played it is time to do justice. Heaps’ complete freshman season can be compared to his peers and see if he improved his final ranking.
Just as before, the analysis will start with each player’s resume:
83 completions, 153 attempts (54.2%), 1,252 yards, 13 TD, 10 Int., 138.0 Efficiency
Notes: Detmer has the highest efficiency, however, he also threw the most interceptions. He was 1-0 as a starter, a 65-0 blowout of New Mexico (2-10). He threw for 333 yards and 5 TDs. Detmer came off the bench to win 3 other games, including the Freedom Bowl. Detmer was named the MVP of the Freedom Bowl.
108-184 (58.7%), 1,309 yards, 7 TD, 9 Int., 121.2 Efficiency
Notes: Berry has the highest completion percentage. He was 2-4 as a starter. In his best game he threw for 360 yards against Wyoming (2-11).
219-383 (57.2%), 2,316 yards, 15 TD, 9 Int., 116.2 Efficiency
Notes: Heaps set BYU freshmen records for moss passing yards, most attempts, most completions, most TD passes, and most wins. Heaps was 6-4 as a starter. He was named the New Mexico Bowl MVP, after he set several New Mexico Bowl records, as well as BYU bowl records (best completion percentage, most points scored, and tied most TD passes). Heaps had the eighth most efficient passing game and best for a freshman (242.6 rating) in BYU history against Colorado State (3-9).
By the resumes alone, Heaps did enough to move ahead of Berry. Heaps vs. Detmer requires a more in depth look. While Heaps clearly has bigger numbers in nearly every category, does bigger always equal better? Three facts hold me back from declaring Heaps the clear cut winner:
- While Heaps started or took most of the snaps in 11 of 13 games, he never hit the 300 yards passing benchmark in one game. Detmer did it in the only game he started.
- Ty Detmer had a “Tim Tebow effect” as a freshman. When Detmer came off the bench as a freshman, he instantly infused life into the BYU offense. He led comeback wins against UTEP and Colorado. He threw what would be the winning score against Hawaii.
- Detmer was much more efficient. The difference between Detmer’s 138 and Heaps’ 116.2 pass efficiency ratings is too much to ignore. It makes me wonder what Detmer might have done if he had been given the same number of reps as Heaps. Simple projections gives Detmer a stat line of: 207-383, 3133 yards, 32.5 TD, 25 Int. My mantra has always been that if you start a freshman quarterback, you are sentencing your offense to less than 3,000 yards passing, less than 20 TD passes, and more interceptions than TD passes. Detmer would have been the exception in all three areas. Heaps was only an exception in the final area.
- No 300 yard passing game. To counter the fact that Heaps didn’t pass for over 300 yards in a single game, he did some things that BYU quarterbacks have not been able to do, even as sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Heaps had a 242.6 pass efficiency rating against Colorado State. Heaps also has the bowl records.
- “Tim Tebow effect.” To counter Detmer’s Tim Tebow like impact, Heaps was able to leave his own mark on the offense. During the transformation down the stretch, the BYU offense had a potency matched only by the best Cougar offenses. They were slaughtering opponents. The outcome was determined by halftime against UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico, and UTEP. It took a monumental stretch of bad luck (most were plays that Heaps had no part in) to lose to nationally ranked Utah in Salt Lake City.
- Superior Passing Efficiency. To counter the difference in pass efficiency rating, Heaps can start with his better TD:Int. ratio (1.67 to 1.3). Heaps’ best rebuttal to the pass efficiency numbers, however, is that he didn’t get to pad his stats when games were out of reach. In three blowouts in 1988 (Texas, Utah, and Miami), Detmer amassed 514 yards passing and five TD passes when the outcome was already decided. That is 41% of his total passing yards and 38% of his total touchdown passes. Heaps accumulated his stats when the battle was most intense. He had to go against fresh defenses that were giving their best. There was no 34-3 or 30-7 cushion the opponent could fall back on. All week long, defenses were studying film of Heaps and game planning to stop him. Even though, Heaps was able to pull his pass efficiency rating up from 87.9 to 116.2 over the final five games.
The best part is that the man he replaces at the top of the list went on to pass for over 15,000 yards and 121 touchdowns and rewrite the NCAA record books in his career. Oh yeah, he also won the Heisman Trophy. If any BYU quarterback will ever accomplish more, Jake Heaps seems to be the guy to do it.
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