2019 Heisman Watch: Joe Burrow making his case as College Football’s best quarterback

In his first season at LSU, Joe Burrow was simply just another quarterback. Now, in his senior season, Burrow is making a case for himself as the best quarterback in College Football.

SELU LSU 9718 045” by Tammy Anthony Baker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Last week against Georgia Southern, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow completed 23 of his 27 passes (85.2%) for 278 yards and five touchdowns. While Burrow had a great performance, I left him off my list of Heisman candidates after the first week of College Football. After Burrow led LSU to a 45 – 38 victory over the No. 9 Texas Longhorns, he proved his performance against Georgia Southern was no fluke.

If we got back to Burrow’s stats last season, we’ll find he completed 57.8% of his passes for 2894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. After posting these numbers a season ago, it makes sense why I, and many others, didn’t think of Burrow as one of the best quarterbacks in College Football. Well, if you didn’t before, it’s time to start doing so.

In two games this season, Burrow has completed 55 of his 66 passes (81.8%) for 749 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception. In just two games, Burrow has thrown more than half the touchdowns he did a season ago, all while completing 24% more of his passes. I know Burrow has only played two games so far this season, but him making a case for himself as College Football’s best quarterback goes well beyond his stats.

One example of Burrow showing elite quarterback traits came when LSU was leading Texas 37 – 31 with just over two and a half minutes left in the game. On this particular play, it was 3rd and 17 at LSU’s 39 yard line. If LSU didn’t get this first down, they likely would have given Texas decent starting field position with more than two minutes left on the clock. Being up by only six, LSU could not afford to let Texas reach the end zone.

What happened on this play? For starters, Texas brought the blitz. This play quickly looked like the pocket would collapse, resulting in a sack for the Texas defense. Instead of taking a sack or panicking and throwing a bad pass, Burrow stepped up in the pocket to his left, and found receiver Justin Jefferson for a 61-yard touchdown.

To make this play look even better, Burrow made this throw while his feet weren’t set, mostly because he had a defender coming down on him as he made the pass. In addition to the defender all over him, there were two other Texas defenders very close by. With no panic whatsoever, Burrow put the game out of reach for Texas.

Burrow never seemed bothered by the pressure Texas threw at him, whether that pressure was coming from their offense or defense. Texas scored 38 points in this game, making things challenging for Burrow and the LSU offense. After being down 20 – 7 at halftime, Texas rallied back to make the score 23 – 21. From there, LSU and Texas traded shots, but it was Burrow who never faltered.

While Burrow did throw an interception against Texas, you have to give him credit for shaking it off. Burrow had led the Tigers to a 3 – 0 lead on their first drive, but then threw the interception during their second trip. LSU ended up punting on their next drive, but after that, it was smooth sailing thanks to Burrow shaking off his early mistake. He went on to throw four touchdown passes.

With so many big names in the Heisman race, Burrow may not be the popular choice to win the Heisman trophy this season. However, through two weeks, he certainly has looked the part of a Heisman winner. Burrow is every bit the quarterback guys like Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence or Tua Tagovailoa are this season, and he deserves to be recognized for it.

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