Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has gone from the guy who was an obvious choice for a Heisman finalist, to the guy we have to be reminded is in New York. Caleb Williams is the prohibitive favorite. Stetson Bennett is the guy at the center of the controversy over the selections. Max Duggan is the Cinderella candidate. And then there is Stroud, the guy we sometimes have to think about.
Drop In Production
He was a Heisman finalist after the 2021 season as well, finishing fourth. That should give him a little more profile for this year’s award. But his numbers went down more than just a little this season. His completion percentage dropped from 72% to 66%. His passing yards dropped off by 1,100 yards to 3,340. And his touchdown to interception ratio went from 44:6 to 37:6.
Still, he was at or near the top of most prognostications through much of the season. Then came the 22-point loss at home to Michigan in the regular season finale. Clearly, the Ohio State defense shares the blame for having given up 45 points. But Stroud threw two interceptions to go with his two touchdowns. That took them out of the conference championship, while Duggan, Bennett, and Williams all got the big stage the following weekend.
Impact Of Injuries
Part of his “decline” if we really have to call it that can be tied to missing his best receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba because of injuries. The running back position was also depleted because of injuries giving the offense a lack of balance.
But for whatever decline gets pointed out for Stroud he still is among the nation’s leaders in multiple categories. Stroud leads all quarterbacks in passing efficiency, a full 10 points ahead of Williams who is fifth in the country. He also is tied for the lead in the country with 37 touchdown passes. He is sixth in the country in yards per completion. None of the other finalists for the Heisman are even in the top 13 in the country.
Still, with him having gone out of the season on a subpar performance, he is now considered a dark horse. The question is whether Stroud struggling to move the ball in a deluge against Northwestern, throwing two picks in the loss to Michigan and failing to win a conference title will keep him from winning the award.