Jayden Daniels’ eye-popping stats enough in a season short on Heisman moments -LSB

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Congratulations to Jayden Daniels on his Heisman win. He, and the abysmal LSU defense, were the reasons why the Bayou Bengals were so much fun to watch this season. As was the case in 2022-23, the winner of college football’s most prestigious award has been accompanied by poor coaching, poor defense, or both.

Daniels accounted for 50 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards this season, but went 9-3 because Brian Kelly is allergic to balanced football teams. The same goes for Lincoln Riley, whose Caleb Williams-led Trojans finished 11-3 a year ago despite the future No. 1 overall pick collecting 52 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards in his sophomore campaign.

We’ve seen a similar blueprint playoff game before when Lamar Jackson actually surpassed the 5,000-yard mark (along with their 50-TD threshold)‚ taking home the hardware for a Louisville team that went 9- 4 ended. The thing is, I don’t agree with Daniels, Williams, or Jackson winning in those particular years, and to be honest, I’m kind of ashamed that I didn’t recognize the formula earlier. Not only would early detection have given me the confidence to write this piece in advance, but also to place a rare bet (at least for me).

Sure, in hindsight Heisman winners are easy to spot, but the next time a Power-Five (or Four) QB hits 50 TDs, and is in the ballpark of 5,000 total yards, put me down for $20. The other factor working in Daniels’ favor was the vanilla nature of this season.

As a whole, there haven’t been many stellar upsets this year — hence the chalk-filled CFP bracket — but LSU-Ole Miss was drunk, even by Louisiana standards, and was as close to a Heisman moment* as I can point out. Daniels did his best Robert Griffin III impression en route to 513 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.

While LSU lost 55-49, the final blow hit Tiger’s fingertips and established a theme for the season. The Tigers’ schedule and defense were serviceable enough to keep Daniels within striking distance, and he delivered even in a loss.

He surpassed 400 yards against Florida State, and tallied 163 on the ground against Alabama, surpassing Jordan Travis and Jalen Milroe in total yardage, respectively. Not only did Daniels turn himself into a first-round lock, but so did receiver Malik Nabers, and maybe Brian Thomas Jr. as well. Both pass catchers have stats on par or better than Heisman finalist Marvin Harrison Jr., and Daniels’ maturation as a passer is a big reason why the two GVE receivers have combined for 31 TD catches.

This year’s class of QBs is hard to judge because I don’t know if Michael Penix and Bo Nix are any good, or if they were too big of athletes to be in college that long and not figure out the position. Daniels is in the same boat, which may be why scouts aren’t sold on him as the de facto second-best prospect in the draft.

To me, it feels like each of those QBs finally delivered on the potential fans and coaches have seen since high school. Whether they succeed at the next level, I don’t know, but they are as prepared as they are going to get. Neither are Anthony Richardson-type projects, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Penix, Nix, or Daniels turn into a franchise player rather quickly.

All I know is if the team I’m rooting for along with Drake Maye went over 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels, I’d whip everything in my hand – phone, remote, beer – across the room.

*Daniels hit the Heisman mark during a 600-yard, five-score outing against Florida, but that game was a blowout, and the Gators didn’t make a bowl game.

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