Does Zach Wilson deserve Heisman consideration?
We've entered a new era. Not the era of COVID, not the era of no fans at games, not the era of a new version of college football. An era where BYU finally gets a chance to gain some momentum and put a hurt on someone else. It's also an era where their quarterback is exploding on any defense he faces. Zach Wilson has been the talk of the Cougars program, and for good reason. But does he deserve to be in the Heisman conversation?
BYU's always had the potential to be a dangerous team for anyone they face, but a tough schedule has killed momentum in the past. With zero Power 5 opponents on their schedule right now, the Cougars are taking previous frustrations out on their new foes. Wilson himself is on pace to smash his previous two seasons of production, and might even beat both years combined. It helps that his team is well rounded, but last weekend's win over Louisiana Tech showcased his skillset best.
Coming into this year, Wilson needed to work on a few things. At times, he took unnecessary risks, and seemed to look to run quicker than the coaching staff might have liked. Yet there were also plenty of good things about his game (see: 2017 Western Michigan), and it was a matter of if he could consistently play at that level.
This was the beginning of the greatness. Wilson rolls out to his right, and puts the ball in a spot where only his guy can catch it. NFL caliber throw. You'll notice that he's not rolling out to run, but rather keeping his eyes downfield and throwing a strike. That's something we didn't see consistently last year, but we saw it all night Friday.
The biggest thing is that Wilson's not forcing anything. He's letting the ball go with confidence, and putting his guys in positions to be successful. The defenders above couldn't get to the ball because its in the one spot where only his guy can get it. He's reading defenses at a high level this year, and that's thanks largely to his preparation. ESPN sideline reporter Stormy Buonantony mentioned the coaching staff say that Wilson sometimes watches more film than they do. All of his biggest throws from Friday night were evident of that. He's gashing defenses with his arm, and letting his legs supplement that attack. Even when he gets pressured, he's slowed the game down so much that he can reset and make a throw instead of taking off.
If this is last year, Wilson's either taking a sack or trying to run for the first down. His focus on keeping his eyes downfield allowed him to make this play, and it's that maturation that's made the Cougars offense nearly unstoppable so far.
It's not a mistake that Wilson's having this kind of success. The preparation he put in this offseason along with his development as a passer have made him a dangerous threat for any defense to stop. He's currently completing 84.5% of his passes this year, and the Cougars have a Top 5 offense. They're averaging 49.3 points per game, second in the country. That's all thanks to Wilson. So what does that mean in terms of the Heisman?
Zach Wilson continues to play at a high level, but it's a small sample size thus far. It's also come against perceived weaker competition, which would be the only knock against his resume. But you have to put up the numbers in order to even start the conversation, and Wilson is doing just that. In a year where the Cougars scrambled to find opponents, Power 5 teams might want to avoid them this year with the momentum they've built. The only problem is that hurts Wilson's case for the Heisman.
Competing with the Trevor Lawrence's and Justin Fields' of college football requires a special player, and Wilson can be that guy. While he might not notch a signature win over a Power 5 opponent, he's proving to be a menace for anyone. With the Big Ten and Pac-12 starting later, who's to say that BYU won't snag one or two Power 5 teams and do some damage? One things for sure, Zach Wilson is the most improved player in all of college football, and no one wants a part of this team as a whole, let alone their star quarterback.